Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell is one of the books written to explain reason behind the black culture existing especially in the southern states. He believed that the values, beliefs, ideas and norms that the black culture has in interpreting their daily experiences and their behaviors towards certain factors in the society such as sex, work, education, language, behavioural patterns and attitude are in fact the manifestation of the collected traits that were handed down to them by the earlier white culture. Thomas Sowell is an economist and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
He used his knowledge in economics and social sciences to give a rational explanation of the occurring social phenomena in the country. In this book, the title itself is as controversial as the article. Giving the book a title Black Rednecks made people turn their heads. This book tackled the reason behind the dysfunctions of African Americans in terms of their behaviors and their consequences as well. This collection of essays explained the reality that exists in the culture that we thought we knew already but in essence, definitely not.
He used different historically based data in supporting his arguments. He also used comparison of different existing culture and past civilizations in the world to give strong justification of his claims. By using such evidences, he gave strong emphasis on how the history itself explained a lot in the current situation of African Americans in society’s context. By defining attached symbols to their everyday way of life, he discovered the roots of their behaviours and attitude towards the society. And by looking through that, we can discover the roots of his claims about them.
He also applied different sociological perspectives to have an accurate description of the things that may be overlooked by others. But, as a member of that culture, many argued that maybe his own personal biases might hinder him in explaining the truth. His forward look to the class own life meanings as well as its own experience might deviate from the truth. By tracing the generation pattern of most of the southern states, he believed that Scotsmen and English men are the ones who brought the redneck or cracker culture in the communities of African American.
Later on, because of their continuous interaction with each other, they acquired the characteristics and behaviors of the Scotsmen and English men. Their negative attitude and notion of different society issues in areas like sex, work, education and moral stability had been disregarded by most of them. That is why you can usually see those kind of people like they were going to kill you once you do something wrong to them, or something that they think as wrong. This came from the previous interactions of white men and the blacks in the southern states.
As stated above, when the white people migrated to the southern states, they bring with them their characteristics that are believed to be passed on to the blacks. These characteristics had been acquired by the blacks through constant interactions with the whites. It has been discovered that this various interactions had attached meanings and symbols to the existing beliefs and ideas of the natural inhabitants of the area. Since those people are exposed in New England enclaves, a border of New England where lawlessness is the norm, these people were subjected to social changes of their usual traits.
We can see the importance of migration in the development of culture across civilizations in the world. Since the white migrated from New England to the southern states, they brought their own cultural traits and perspectives that were acquired by the people originally living there. This is a major effect of migration because the collective transfer of the people with their own beliefs and norms made severe changes to the societal cycle of the community of their destination. It is also believed that these people had controlled the power of the society.
By holding the social class, they have the utmost power in determining the cultural pattern that they should have. They also controlled all the meanings and ideas to be attached to their daily experiences as they continuously deal with each other. Sowell used functional approach in dealing with this subject. But since the approach has many drawbacks on its claims, there are still important things to deal with the whole picture. As far as his arguments on the current outlooks of the African Americans is concerned, he gave much emphasis to the interaction of them and the acquisition of the white culture.
Looking on the drawbacks of these perspectives, he disregarded the evolution of culture and their capabilities of thinking and evolving by themselves. Based on my understanding on the context of his book, he overemphasized their influence, taking for granted the unique capacity of the black culture. Since most of the people who live in their area suffer from poverty, their lack of proper education and motivation to succeed is not a trait handed down to them but an attitude that shaped them. This is a clear manifestation of the remaining trace of slavery to them.
On the other hand, they had developed their own acclaimed culture, the gangsta rap. This is a kind of music derived from the distortion of the word gangster and mixed up with their own interpretation of performing. This is their way of defining their situation in the society and how well they experience the life within the society. They believe that their culture is the manifestation of how they view the society. Many had made crucial criticism to them as they often portray bad elements of the society.
But, if we were to look on their perspective, this is the attached meaning of their daily interactions with the society thus, a product of our own meaning that we associate to them. We can not eliminate it. The least that we can do is to divert their negative feelings towards the society that we have, by letting them experience how it is to be in our society. How it is to be to be treated as a person, as equal. I believed that they should further cultivate their unique culture because they only address societal issues that we overlooked. They see the inner picture of how is it to be treated as if they are not humans.
They are the ones who can explain the feelings of being an outcast in their own society, by their own society. Since they had acquired these kinds of traits from the white people and later on branded these traits as their inborn beliefs, we must understand the relativity of the social phenomenon that happened first. The crimes and deviant actions often associated with them are the result of the prejudice we made to them. Doing something wrong or disturbing the flow of the society are not one of their existing norms, it just became associated with their race.
All of these experiences and changes that they undergone had effects on the crime justice system that we have today. Since we have certain notions of negative attitudes and expected behaviours to them, it affected the way we treat them and fit them in our own justice systems. These various representations of many biases had affected the law and justice system towards them. We look upon to them based on what we perceived on their culture and we do not even bother to look on the other side of the picture. This has been the tradition in dealing with the black people. Conflicts had prevailed in many of the existing community today.
The separation of their physical and cultural attributes had affected the way we organize and plan certain social actions for them. Therefore, the criminal justice system which looks down to the basic rights of the black people, had been severely affected by the notion of their previous cultural heritage, living their way of life that is actually handed down to them by the previous white community in the area. 2. Slavery, as he claimed is not a pure Western or American concept. This has been the common notion for every people in the world to treat this as invented by the western people.
But, if we were to look beyond the history, we can find out that this notion existed in different parts of the world across civilizations. He argued that we should have the same look and perspective in dealing with this kind of concept. Looking back at the concept itself, slavery is a tradition that was born ages ago. But, as far as we understood and knew this area, we know that this prevalence occurred romantically in the west. This gave the rise of the idea that this practice had been the inborn capacity of the western civilization in dealing with the people.
From the history books, we read how slavery became a part of everyday cycle of the society. Although, if we were to analyze the real picture we can see different loopholes that had been taught to us way back before in understanding slavery. In understanding the real essence of it, we should leave our own biases and prejudice, for us to be able to understand it more. The reason for this is because the notion that had been planted to us might be somehow tampered by the previous set of beliefs that had been making this history. If we were to look back, slavery had been a practice of civilizations in the east, and not in the west.
Since the very foundation of human civilization started there and with lot of accounts depicting their history, we can see the flow of a common society wherein they are divided among classes and slavery really did prevail. This time, we can see how the norms and ideas had been affected by the existence of the concept of slavery in one culture and another. Historical findings traced slavery in the east. But in the west it has been often said that Africans were enslaved which is likely to be true. They were sold to America to masters and be the ones to cultivate the soil for America to feed.
This is what findings are telling us. In some of the cases in Europe, African natives do have advanced technology. They had boats and modes of transportation. While most Europeans were sea travellers, their expeditions were not that smooth sailing. On the course of their adventures, they encountered pirates, who unlikely turned out to be Africans. So not in all parts of the world did blacks became slaves. It has also been discovered that those who are living in smaller communities would likely suffer and be slaves than those who are in big communities which can defend themselves from slave raiders.
That is why, in the western hemisphere more blacks suffered because there exist faction of people that lived in one place that tends to undermine each other. However, on the other side of the globe, there had been series of unfortunate events that enclose the daily experiences of the people. They experience far greater inhumane treatment that includes child prostitution, sexual and physical abuse and among others. This everyday flow of their usual life gave way to racism. He believed that this is not the reason of slavery but the product of it.
By the time when Great Britain decided not to continue their participation in the slavery trade off, they inform the whole world their moral obligations and responsibilities that contradict slavery. This way, societies began to impose certain limitations in slavery like age, etc, and later on abolished this system. Soon the global idea on slavery started to diminish. In Frederick Douglas’ address, he said that if only the students of America will be taught the American history exactly as it should be and exactly as it happened, they can understand the real situation.
Not only the slavery that had been a practice in the country but also its move in trying to reduce and to eliminate this kind of interaction among people. Lincoln, who believed in God’s will, pushes for societal reforms for the people to be able to understand the complexity and the payment of our attitude and behaviours towards slaves. Lincoln and Douglas are the two frontrunners of the rights and privileges of the slaves and had been the advocates of fairness and equality among the people.
Due to the moral influence of the west among other countries in the world, they triumphantly instilled to the mind of the people the drawbacks and limitations of slavery not only to our society but as well as in our personal growth. The notion of different societal problems that had been encountered by the African American had been seen that it has little relation with the legacy of slavery. So, it is not right to put the blame on the history of slavery of the people for their experiences and current state of living today.
Because this has been the notion of many of us today, he argued that after being enslaved by others, African American should have strived harder or changed their negative outlook for them to be successful as members of the community they live in. The history was distorted to make the slavery accountable for their current way of life today as black people of the community. The distortion of the history somehow affected our perception of the western ideologies and culture. We associated the origin of slavery to them because it was the part of history when it peaked. They were also the most powerful and influential nations at that time.
These distortions of history had led to false facts and knowledge about the system of slavery thus developed negative influence with regards to the white people, who dominate the slave trading and had been seen enslaving black people in their own accord. Somehow, it affected the way we looked down to the black people because of these distortions in our history. They were always regarded as lower class human beings and do not deserve to be a member of the society. We can see how the history showed how the white shaped these perceptions and made them humiliated before their own eyes.
But the real scenario is, it is the history itself who distorted the notion of fair and unbiased justice system where it favours certain classes of people and based the idea of criminals and crime doers in the context of being slaves. 3. Poverty indeed promotes poor academic performance. As said in the essay, this is not a good motivation for the black people to excel academically. Because of the situation they are in, they are forced to believe and have the notion of that they do not have to excel for them to be successful.
It is not part of their goal to excel but just to survive. Since most of the black people experience poverty, they are the ones who experience lack of support and therefore lead to unmotivated outlook. It has been seen that blacks did worse mental and intelligence test compared to whites. It has been a taboo to talk about it because they think that it is one way to degrade them. But in reality, this can not be explained by any kind of racism or prejudice. Or even the biased set of exams or school program because everything that was used had been made to see the real scenario.
Although, in the 20th century, blacks started to catch up with the whites in terms of excellence and at this point of history also started the severe racial discrimination and prejudice among them. But still, they had proven their worth in the whole world by trying to excel in many things that most of the whites do not expect them to do so. This motivation to have an equal level to the whites had been a great factor to promote excellence to them. Because many of us doubted their capacity because they are blacks, it triggered them to get the respect they should have.
But in line with these, since racial prejudice and stereotypes had been attached to their skin color, it also reinforces their negative attitude towards education and the notion towards them that nothing good is expected of them. Our own behaviors honed them to have these negative attitudes towards education. Subconsciously, we are not aware that the way we interact with them affected their perception on excellence but the truth is it had great effects on how they handle their own experiences. I believe in the saying that truth hurts. We now know the effects and the possible solution. But still, we chose to step behind and do nothing at all.
Why? The answer is simple, they do not want to interact with the whites because of their experiences that they were being judged and discriminated by our actions and feel humiliated. Or, we do not want to let them excel because of our pride and ego that they will be empowered and be marked as white’s equal, which unconsciously, we do not want to happen. 4. Oppression, as liberals believe, is the cause of crime, poverty and other societal dysfunctions in African American communities. It is the effect of oppressing their rights and privilege to be recognized as part of the society they are in.
It is a valid reason for them to assume that all of these problems have connections with their experiences in their own community. Yes, this connection exists but this is not the major reason for this. Education had been a major problem of black communities. With regards to this, severe poverty had also been experience by them. This could lead up to their blatant violation of the norm and thus, acting as our definition of criminals. That is why these problems they had encountered had honed them to have the thinking of survival in any ways.
These gave them the idea of doing things behind their control. So, the oppression of the black people have little effects compared to our notion and prejudice to them our interactions and attached meanings to them had later on defined them to be such members of their own community. These, as we see, is one of the major part of their culture and must not be blamed on the simple misunderstandings on their little actions. It could have been better to look at their own way of life as on other perspective for us to be able to see other loopholes in their societal problems.
This may be the cause of their difficulties in handling their culture as their own unique style of living. Another explanation could be the unsupportive American culture. Although we are not aware that everything we do is part of their experiences, the way we react and give meanings to their doings have great effects on their cognitive processes and their understanding in our society. This may be a problem but for us to be able to look for the reasons of the different style and their perception of their actions. 5. One of the civilizations that existed in the world which were often misunderstood is that of Germany.
They are known to possess ideal skills to have a successful nation. They persevere and work hard for them to be able to be specialized in their own chosen field. They are known to have in depth knowledge in different fields had set them apart from any other communities. Not only that, their tolerance and their acceptance to different kind of culture had prevailed throughout the world making them the home of the unwanted Jews by the rest of the world. This attracted many Jews to live in Germany and continue their generations in that country they believed was their second home.
But, when Hitler rose to power, he was the first one to spread the incomparable evil in Germany. His utmost hatred to Jews led the way to massive killings of people thus producing hatred and dismay not only in Germany but in the whole world. His treatment to millions of Jews there brought the opposition of many countries who witnessed his inhuman actions. He intelligently strategizes to eliminate Jews and German-Jews without the resistance of the Germans. He also made the Nazis to hate those people and put the task to eliminate all the Jews in the country.
But, as they try to influence people not to do any business with them or interact at all, the Germans still deal with these people and some tried to help risking their own lives. In this way, Hitler failed to address the power of communal actions of the people and forgot to think that Germans can feel emotion and sympathy to other people which he does not. This is one of the major flaws in his plans to terrorize the world. We see this as the greatest crime in the history of mankind, killing almost six million of people in the same time.
But in connection with this, we attached this crime to the Germans as if all of them constitute and conspire with Hitler to do it. In reality, we must look back the way they resist on the campaign of his regime to kill their fellowmen. Sowell asks the readers to eliminate our generalization for the Germans and put our judgement back on the individuals who planned and do all this things. In fact, they are the victims of their own history because of what Hitler had done. We gave them the prejudice and judge them because of the historical terror that they have and not as Germans who excelled in many things.
Therefore, we must set out to the context of Hitler regime and try to see them not as a group of Nazi but as citizens who are afraid for their own lives. 6. Cosmic Justice, as claimed by the writer is an impossible dream to reach in any kind of society. In comparison with the existing notion of justice to our community, this one have a different level of acceptance and explanations on things that can not be answered by today’s ideas and beliefs. Today, justice means the application of rules and laws to everyone, without exemptions to most of them.
But to this extent, many believed that real justice can not be achieved by only applying the same set of rules and standards to people. An intervention should happen to equalize the clashing demands and beliefs for us to achieve the notion of justice. They say that the traditional justice today is just a formal justice, not a fair one. Because they apply the same rules to all the people but undermines the effect of different societal factors in their actions and perceptions of life. This could have been our definition of the justice system that we experience today.
The word fairness, equal, advantage are just few of many words that defines the new justice system that they want to be applied in contrast with the traditional one, the social justice. But in the search for this kind of justice had brought us to understand that in order to optimize fairness and equality, we must first be able to understand that every rule in the society must be changed to have the minimized or totally non existent biases to everyone. But in trying to have this achievement, we must understand that these inequalities had existed long before we understand the concept of justice.
So for us to be able to have a fair society, we must first interfere in the way that it is supposed to be. We must intervene with the cosmic side of everything. Therefore, what we are searching is not the social context of justice but the cosmic justice. But looking for such kind of justice is impossible. Why? It is because we can never interfere with these inequalities. We can never eliminate all of these for us to be able to have the ideal society that we want to live in. This pursuit of a new kind of justice is impossible to reach, because we can never equalize a society without having our own biases and prejudice.
In some way, there still exists certain degree of unwanted things that we have in our own premises. The search for this kind of justice although impossible, is due to the wanting of many people to have a real equality in America. This quest for equality had brought up some people to look for this. But in reality, the least that we can do is to minimize our self biases and accept at the moment that this traditional system fits the system today, and therefore social changes will do its way to cope up with the changing cultures of society.