Inescapable Reality, Not Victim Blaming
Over the course of a recent two-day period (August 30-31), the Star Tribune ran at least four stories or editorials dealing with racial disparities.
- “Disparities in Maternal Deaths ‘Staggering,’” by Marissa Evans.
- “Math and Reading Scores Drop,” by Erin Golden and MaryJo Webster.
- “Spotlighting Racial Disparities,” by Patrick Condon.
- “Face Up to Gaps in Student Test Scores,” an unsigned editorial.
Nothing said by anyone in the news stories was out of the ordinary. Same with arguments in the editorial. But that’s a major reason why the very real problems cited won’t get much better, as there wasn’t a single reference, or even allusion, to how huge disparities in maternal deaths, academic achievement, incarceration rates and the rest won’t get much better so long as family fragmentation rates remain hugely higher in most communities of color than among whites. This is especially the case in Minnesota, where racial disparities in both nonmarital birth rates and academic achievement gaps are often higher than elsewhere.
Akin, little will improve in any sphere, within any group, so long as matters of individual responsibility and personal agency are ignored, as they are in these accounts. Kids not learning enough? Chances are they won’t until more of them work harder, and it’s not insensitive or unenlightened to expect them to do so. Same with falling attendance rates: Adults have obligations in assuring that students show up for school in the morning, but teenagers have more.
Yes, I know I’ve been writing about things like this forever. And yes, without question, racism can be real. But no, approaches like mine are still not victim blaming, but inescapable reality.