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Imagine A World

middle-classNo ghettos. Poor neighborhoods, yes, but clean and tidy. Everybody cares for their lawn, keeps their house looking good, and there’s no junk in the front yard.

Cars are mostly parked in driveways, carports or garage. Kids are playing in yards & sidewalks, maybe even dodge-balling in the street – but watching for traffic, of course.

A happy little tune announces the arrival of the Good Humor man and hands plunge in pockets searching for coins for an ice cream. Those caught short borrow a dime or yell to their family on the front porch, hey, can I get an ice cream?

As the sun goes down moms are cooking dinner, dads are getting home from work, 6:00 o’clock news comes on & America sits at the table, then settles down for the evening. Sounds idyllic right? It’s how I remember things, when I was ten.

imagesCARC1LN8Mind you, we were poor. Dad never finished high school, drove a truck, cab, whatever, had anger-management issues and a mild drinking problem. At times, between jobs, he’d mope around the house, yell & drink too much, but he never walked out or made us kids think we’d be on the street.

There were Thanksgivings and Christmases when a car would pull up and a lady from church would come to the door with a couple bags of groceries. I guess I didn’t understand the full impact of what that meant. I just knew we were a family doing our best, never went hungry, and mom encouraged us to stay in school and make something of ourselves.

It was a blue collar neighborhood where moms didn’t work and dads had jobs in factories, machine shops, warehouses or in the trades. My friends & I didn’t worry about our thrift shop clothes, 2nd hand bikes, boloney sandwiches, mac-cheese. It was all fine by us in a mid 1950’s East LA suburb called El Sereno.

I knew there were ghettos and places worse than us, but I didn’t think about it. I thought, how could you get poorer than us? I do remember as teens we’d kid about driving down to Watts to test our bravery, but we didn’t trust anyone’s family car to hold up in a chase, so we never did. Guess I knew. Yeah, I knew .  .

kids-watching-50s-tvWe lived happy, simple lives, however poor we may have been. Walked to school without fear, played openly in the streets and looked forward to little pleasures like a movie at the week-end, an ice cream from the truck, watching Superman or Leave It to Beaver on TV: 9″ B&W Philco, on thin pedestal legs.

What was so vastly different between my world and the chicano barrios a couple miles away, or the black areas 12-15 miles west and south? Why were we able to make the best of things while they struggled with crime & lived in squalor? Our school, by the way, was about 65% white, 30% brown, 5% Asian & black.

There was ethnic tension, sure, but nothing openly racist. Team sports, music clubs, chess club etc. were mixed, open to anybody wanting in. Don’t laugh, but if I was prejudiced or bigoted at all it was more towards Italians/Germans than Mexicans, Asians or blacks. Seems odd, but that’s how I remember it. Italians were Wops or I-Ti’s, Germans Krauts. When you think of racism, pretty lightweight stuff. Anyway, we resorted to epithets only when fighting or in jest. It didn’t affect our normal day-to-day relationships. We were all friends, in it together.

Again I have to ask, why were hispanics & blacks, living in self- imposed confines, so different from us, so susceptible to delinquent behaviors, drugs, gangs, criminal activities, etc? 1st thing comes to mind is parents, specially dads. A father has enormous influence on a young boy. If that influence is positive, if dad is a good role model, it’s likely the boy will be too.

imagesCATO9B3NRecall I mentioned my own dad, who was borderline OK. The nicest thing I can say, he was there. He didn’t abandon us. He wasn’t abusive. Did his best, considering his background. I feel most of the problems in barrios/ghettos stem from fatherless homes, or abusive, neglectful biological dads who mistreat or intimidate more than nurture & mentor.

Our dad wasn’t a positive influence, but he wasn’t destructive either. He was just there, if disappointing. We kids made excuses for his faults/failings.  Mom was a different ballgame.

suburbs1950s515x299She went to high school, learned musical/secretarial skills, and was fluently bi-lingual; accomplished typist (80wpm on a manual Underwood) read music/played the piano, though we didn’t have one. She should have gone to college, but that’s another story. Point is, she provided the encouragement/mentoring that dad couldn’t. She held our respect. We paid attention to her, and tried to live up to her expectations.

In our case mom was the crucial ingredient in our upbringing, steering us in the right direction. When I think of my various friends I remember them all as having two parents in the house,  both of whom were responsible, loving and dedicated to helping their kids do better than themselves.

I submit again, the single most destructive element in ghetto and barrio homes is the absence of fathers, or fathers who have limited parenting skills, limited interest in family life, or behavioral tendencies/issues counter-productive to raising a child.

photo-chicago-unknown-residential-street-4-kids-streetskating-c1950Others can say what they will. Loving and raising a child, giving it 100% of whatever one has to give, is the most important thing a parent can do to guarantee their child’s success in life. Second most important is providing an education, making sure they try to do good in school, stay in school, finish school. Third, get them to college, if it suits them and/or they’re college material. Fourth, instill in them a sense of responsibility to take charge of their life, seek employment & approach relationships in the same manner as their parents did with them.

Imagine a world where these ideas held sway and almost taken for granted. Much of America was that world once upon a time. Today all we hear are excuses why it can’t happen, why people of color are hamstrung and disadvantaged. Why a generational disenfranchisement has created the world we have.

I say bull! We each are responsible for our own behaviors. If we behave badly it isn’t society’s fault, but our own. Do drugs, our decision; gangs, same; commit crimes or murder, same. Things don’t happen because we’re black, brown or green. They happen because we’re brought up poorly, even criminally from an abuse & neglect standpoint, adopting all these destructive behaviors. We’re brought up to expect nothing more, to accept what was good enough for mom (dad?) will be good enough for us.

imagesIt’s time to face facts. Say to hell with the past. Blacks/browns have it in their power to change their predicament, and their future prospects. Young black/brown girls between 13-18 must be cautioned/sanctioned not to get pregnant. Those that do must find government help is over, or at least greatly modified from how its handled right now.

Collecting benefits must bring accountability and some form of repayment obligation. No more free rides. Family, friends, local churches, communities or national charitable organizations can step up if they wish, but government is not our uncle and must no longer be looked to for support or forgiveness.

Young momBlack/brown men must also be cautioned not to run around making babies, as they will be held responsible for every single baby they make! This means marriage, child support, spousal support, whatever it takes to maintain their girlfriend and her baby. Men who dodge their responsibility or disappear shall attain fugitive status and, ultimately, face prison. They must pay for their mistake. Not society.

Understand, I am addressing blacks/browns specifically since they’re the ones with the greatest incidence of unwed moms and fatherless children. It goes without question these ideas, punishments, apply equally to all individuals, regardless of race. So-called poor white trash or trailer park moms are to be treated the same.

What a simple thing. Tell these young people their behavior is no longer acceptable. Society is unwilling to bear the cost of their mistakes, and it’s got to stop!

Many more remedies present themselves, but this is top priority.

untitledNothing works, without this. When the day comes we no longer accept a world where 73% of all black babies are born into poverty without fathers, or 54% of brown babies, that’s the day we can next imagine the eradication of racism and bigotry, the elimination, or at least rehabilitation, of ghettos and barrios. The day we can defeat ignorance and illiteracy.

The day everybody of every color has an equal chance to grow and thrive in America. Let’s bring that day, and imagine such a world .  .   .

You’ve been reading Shaneview

I’m Al Shanea

Alvan I. Shane Author, The Day Liberty Wept 2270 N Euclid Ave Frequent Op-Ed Contributor Upland, Calif 91784 Political Donor to Cons Grps / Causes (909) 946-5104 Ex-Marine / California native Tax Accountant / Mar 43yrs / 1 son

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