Monday, April 24, 2006

Putting The "Assimilated" In Assimilated Negro

I was hanging out with a good friend of mine the other day. He was celebrating receiving a quarter of a million dollars. Not any sort of "crazy" story, his grandmother invested a little back in the days, now her grandson is receiving a lot. A fortuitous result, but not hitting the lottery by any means. But it reinforced a feeling I’ve had for a while now. Perhaps the biggest cause/reason/issue/metric that underscores the difference between black and white folk is knowledge and appreciation of the power and importance of the stock market.

He agreed regarding the importance and knowledge of the market (disclosure: it is also his line of work) but said it underscores the gap between the poor vs. the rich, regardless of race.

And I have yet to issue a counterpoint.

The title of this makes me think of what anecdote I might relay to convey what puts the "Negro" in Assimilated Negro.

I think I would tell the story about how I spent a night in jail for no reason.


  1. Phil the Brit4/24/2006


    Your point is a good one: black people have lacked a stake to take their shot on the great roulette wheel of destiny.

    The incomparable black scholar CLR James once described why Britain wished the slave trade to be abolished.

    You're thinking distaste, shame, guilt..? Not a chance.

    The economist Adam Smith had already proved that slavery was an inefficient means of production. Think of the cost of transporting your ancestors across the Atlantic, fighting, biting and scratching every mile of the journey, with one-third of them never seeing the New World alive. Those that did survive were surly, unco-operative and needed watching every minute of every day. What an overhead!

    Far better, said Smith, to get unenslaved Indian (that's real Indians, not the native American folks Columbus mistook for Indians) peasant labour to do the job for a penny a day (plus ca change, huh?) Abolishing slavery cost Britain nothing, as India was there to fill the gap. What it really did was fuel the desire for abolition in French colonies. France was Britain's great competitor at the time, and France had no India of its own. Result: Britain kicks its biggest rival squarely in the nuts.

    Your forebears, therefore, got the worst of it again when the US abolished slavery. They simply had the word 'wage' added to their job description, as plain old slaves became wage slaves.

    They received no stake in the country they had helped to build, which by now would have matured into major black corporations, political influence, etc.

    This stake would have given black America as a whole its own prudent Grandma and a shot at carving out its own future.

    What they got was, 'You're free! But you'll be needing a job now, right? I think you'll find your old slave master is hiring.'

  2. I wanna hang with you and your friends TAN. assimilated or otherwise.

    I ain't sayin' I'm a gold digger ...

  3. This reminds me of the best seller "Rich Dad Rich Kid" and brings the idea of what kind of legacy do we give give our kids. I'm not saying money ain't good, it is just fine. But first I think it is a type of family and economic attitude nothing to do with environmental adaptation of skin that some families pass on money and some don't have a clue how to invest etc.

    Also, there are families that invest but are selfish and spend it and don't pass it on or see money as something to change a families economic status.

    And that might be where the inheritance of ethics and morals comes in...passing on ideas of compassion, charity, emotional wealth.

    One of my grandmothers had the money idea she said it was just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man. I love it it never occured to her my sister and I might get rich.

    Some people might call that a white trash attitude.

  4. Anonymous4/24/2006

    get your kids invested as children, they'll be set for retirement. easy as that.

    of course the big lesson is discipline with saving money.

  5. Anonymous4/25/2006

    best CEO in america is a negro. Ken Chenault of American Express. FYI

  6. I think your friend makes a valid point on rich vs. poor regardless of race, and I'm not sure the counterpoint would go directly to his point.

    However, overlaying all this is the social detritis of racism nonetheless. It doesn't counter the point per se, but it does give it nuance.

    So while the following could not be considered counterpoints in the strict debating sense, we might view them as angles for viewing the question:

    1) The experience of racism transcends economics. Most middle-class blacks, professionally dressed, showing up for work on time and playing by the rules, can still relate personal stories of experiencing racism. (I'm willing to hazard a guess that even Ken Chenault, if pressed, could relate a few such stories, despite his probable tendency not to focus on them.)

    2) The legacy of racism impacts economics. Oprah and Ken Chenault notwithstanding, we still see a huge imbalance in the "Rich Dad/Poor Dad" dynamic, with too many blacks falling into the "Poor Dad" side of the equation. A large number of white folks also fall into the latter category as we know, but even a short car trip through any medium-to-large U.S. city will tell the tale, as the payday loan shops (with their outrageously high interest rates) seem to gravitate towards the neighborhoods with higher percentages of minorities, and the brokerage branches migrate towards whiter climes.

    3) The existence of exceptions doesn't mean the playing field is level. While Mr. Chenault stands out as an exceptional executive, my own corporate experience points to a far greater mass of unexceptional (and sometimes downright incompetent) white executives who rode to the top or upper middle of the food chain thanks to their family connections, privileged social standing, and the like.

    Several years ago, Jimmy the Greek got himself into serious public trouble over a crackpot racial theory he had concerning blacks and their dominance in professional sports. I think he could have saved himself a lot of grief if he'd given a little thought to the nature of playing fields.

    The reason we see such a high percentage of blacks achieving in professional sports has nothing to do with biological factors and everything to do with social ones, I believe.

    More blacks achieve in sports because more blacks are trying to achieve in sports. And more blacks are trying because the sports field (as long-shot a chance as it is, and the odds of making it in sports are statistically daunting for any individual who aspires to it) is perceived as inherently fair.

    (Your family connections and social standing may get you a corner office and a sweet pay package, but they won't get that ball through the hoop.)

    And I think the social perceptions surrounding investing (along with the socializing effects of being raised by a Rich Dad or a Poor Dad...who was, after all, raised by a Rich Granddad or Poor Granddad) go a long way towards explaining the current disparities that we see as we drive past the Payless Cashways branch in South Oak Cliff or the Fidelity Investments branch in Highland Park, to use a few examples from my own stomping grounds.

    -- Jumper

    PS: Thanks for adding the vomit buffer. I've got a weak stomach and sometimes have difficulty with your occasional forays into vomit and doo-doo pictures.

  7. Anonymous4/25/2006

    I can't believe that arrested story. ridiculous

  8. Anonymous4/28/2006

    TAN, it's high time our folks showed our kids the value of saving, which is hard for poor people to do.

    On another note, check this out:

    Spokes-Rapper's Delight

    Clean living spokes-rapper 50 Cent. (AP)
    I'm not exactly sure what a "spokes-rapper" is, but I can think of no one who deserves the honor more than 50 Cent. The rapper has taken on the appellation to help judge contestants in a cooking competition aimed at preventing childhood obesity by improving teenagers' eating habits:
    High school students ... are being asked to submit recipes for the most nutrient-rich school cafeteria lunch they can come up with including a main course, fruit or other healthy dessert, and to wash the meal down, their favorite variety of vitamin water. --
    Sure the competition is sponsored by Glaceau, maker of his grape-flavored Vitamin Water drink, Formula 50 (from the drink's official Web site: "Try a dose of Formula 50... and lose the pimp cup."), but healthier school food is a pretty great cause for anyone -- whether 50 Cent or the USDA -- to champion.
    Lose the pimp cup, indeed -- a message more rappers and other celebs would do well to send to their younger audiences. According to Glaceaus's Web site, for 50, drinking Vitamin Water "makes as much sense as wearing a bulletproof vest" and the spokes-rapper doesn't drink alcohol at all. (Wait a minute -- I thought we were gonna "sip Bacardi like it's my birthday." Shucks.)
    Anyhow, hats off to 50 Cent, spokes-rapper of the month. When it comes to changing kids' minds about how to eat -- well, all I gotta say is, next to 50 Cent, Ronald McDonald looks like a clown.

  9. Anonymous5/01/2006

    Dear Ass. Negro,

    the paul dawson "niggah" clip was pure genius. i laughed as loudly as possible in the library. i think paul dawson believes in what paul mooney says, " i like saying the word niggah, it keeps my teeth white." or something like that. paul dawson certainly enjoyed his 2 mins fame.
    good times.
    thanks assimilated negro!


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