On February 10, 2004, I wrote: “It’s not a lack of money, books, smaller class sizes, highly paid teachers, air-conditioned classrooms, science labs, computers or the latest academic bells and whistles [stunting black classroom achievement] – it is parental failure, the inclusion of negative cultural ideologies to the exclusion of sound biblical truths, the lack of discipline and the unwavering acceptance of failure as being the fault of someone else.” (See: In this Case, It’s The Parents’ Fault)
I continued that no matter the excuse, reason or paradigm used, “Black underperformance in school is caused – foremost – by poor parenting. … Poverty does not explain observed [education] gaps…Young black children are exposed to much lower levels of cognitive and emotional stimulation than white children, even in families with comparable income, education and IQ. [Black children] watch more TV, read fewer books and converse and go on educational outings with their families less often.” (See: Home Alone by James J. Heckman and Amy Wax; Wall Street Journal, 1/23/2004)
Tragically little has changed since I wrote the above 11-years ago, which brings me to an experience I had this past weekend. We, along with friends, spent Saturday at the “Grounds For Sculpture: Sculpture Garden” in Hamilton, New Jersey. There were stunning indoor displays and designs, and the outdoors boasted nearly 300 of the most incredible and in many instances lifelike sculptures I have ever seen. Words fail to describe the spectacular majesty and placement of the sculptures and the use of plants, bamboo forests and flora, all of which were bursting with color and contrast.
The spectacle of sculptures and grounds reduced my superlatives to single syllables. I felt as if I had been airlifted into Alice’s Wonderland. I conservatively place the attendance for the several hours we were there to easily have been upwards of 3,000 persons.
Yet it was the transpicuous absence of blacks that I found troubling. It was over three hours into the visit before I observed a gentleman and lady who were persons of color.
I started a conversation with the gentleman, mentioning my observation that we were the only persons of color I had seen there. I expressed my concern for the intellectual asphyxiation of black children based on the lack of healthy cognitive stimulation that comes from the visitation and study of wonders such as the “Grounds For Sculpture.”
It is here important to understand that neither the gentleman nor myself shared our concerns based on a lack of diversity such as race-mongers clamor for – rather we expressed concern because we understood that involving children in the type of intellectual stimulation we were enjoying is paramount to their development of meaningful interests.
At the end of the day I had counted nine black persons visiting the grounds none of whom had children with them, albeit one couple did have a baby with them.
While blacks are not unique in this lack of exposure they are the only group trotting out the victim card of being educationally unprepared for life. The admission cost was about the price of a pack of cigarettes in New Jersey or the cost of perhaps two drinks in a New Jersey neighborhood bar.
Blacks envelope themselves in vestiges of self-limiting destructive behaviors but they deprive their children of the very things that engender intellectual creativity.
Black children, more than the children of any other population group regardless of the income or educational level of their parents, enjoy far less cognitive stimulation based on the visitation to national sites, libraries, galleries, ad nauseum.
Economic and/or employment status doesn’t prevent parents from taking their children to free libraries. It doesn’t stop them from borrowing language tapes at libraries and together with their children learning a new language. It doesn’t stop them from borrowing books on American landmarks and of foreign lands and studying them. The most basic thing parents can do to intellectually stimulate their children can also be the least expensive.
On the way home Saturday evening, I commented that the way to inspire and stimulate these children was not to start a non-profit charitable organization and get public/government money for vehicles to take urban children to visit such exhibitions as the “Grounds For Sculpture.”
Said reason being because that would require no investment of time or interest by the parents. The investment of time and interest would be recognized as the efforts of others, which would support the disinterest of parents from one generation to the next.
Parents, specifically black parents, are more than “my baby’s mamma” and “my baby’s daddy.” They are intended to be more than sperm dumps and sperm catchers.
Blacks cannot continue to blame the white man and play victim when they refuse to do the most basic things that will lead their families into modernity.
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