Friday, April 25, 2008

Marc Steiner at Goucher

Buz went to hear Marc Steiner speak at Goucher College last  Wednesday. His topic was: the state of the city.
Marc emphasized the state of "hopelessness" of the black community today. Buz felt pretty hopeless by the end of the talk. He remarked that the streets of the Inner City are different now than they were when he was growing up. There used to be a certain amount of respect for old people, women, the church and police,  now there is little to none.
He asserted that a "prison culture" has taken over the streets, with something like a 90% chance that a black male will end up eventually on parole or probation, or in jail.

Buz sees that in his everyday dealings with citizens and clients. The long white T-shirts and no belt with your pants hanging down is "prison": they only order one size of T-shirts (large), and they take your belt away. Plus there is the sexual component of prison life, with your pants hanging down below your belt. I wonder how many of the young people I see (and adults who still haven't grown up yet) wearing this garb realize where the ideas came from. And how many young guys showing off their butts for "fashion" realize what that signifies in a violent  prison culture where normal sex and women aren't available. 

 buz thinks: The juvenile justice system often sends kids the message that there are no consequences (except for a few); thus, when they become adults and rack up 2 or 3 arrests, some with convictions, they arre shocked when they cannot get a real job. When they could get a real job, there are often surprised when the boss is displeased when they miss work, or are late, or start fooling around.

Marc said that some hip-hop and rap which idolizes violence and contempt for women (ho's), is a degradation which pulls America down. And more than 95% of that music is bought by white suburbanites.

Marc believes the solution to these problems is WORK: turnaround can only occur if families have stability through jobs. But he said the changes must be systemic, and he pointed out that many advances in this country occurred because government funding fueled them. He cited as examples the past building of canals, railroads, and highways, not to mention space flight and the New Deal programs.

Buz sees no large systemic improvements such as these on the way, and feels most of the blame lies on the silence of so-called "leaders", failing to follow Bill Cosby's call for some sense of parenting and responsibility. 


helix said...

...Buz sees no large systemic improvements such as these on the way, and feels most of the blame lies on the silence of so-called "leaders", failing to follow Bill Cosby's call for some sense of parenting and responsibility.

I'm not so sure the concept of a "leader" can be applied here. Who are my leaders as a white american of italian ancestry? I can't think of any. I mean, when you think about its just as strange an alien landing his UFO and asking us to take him to our leader. It is a silly request, so why do we expect african americans to have a leader and to take us to him?

Buz, there are no leaders. The blame lies in a thousand different places. And no one "leader" can fix this, just as no one "leader" is responsible for it.

Anonymous said...

First, I've been a reader for a long time and am glad anonymous comments are now enabled.

Second, Baltimore has become some kind of quasi-banana republic. The elected leaders aim to get into power, milk the system for all it is worth, then get out. Same with many of the local business leaders. Certainly there are those who are fighting for real change, but they are few and far between.

Third, Unfortunately, as you stated, I don't see any systemic improvements coming. People are quick to point to what are perceived as quick fixes, tell the SA Office to stop plea bargaining, take more cases to trial, hire more police, throw more people in jail, liberally grant CCW permits, decriminalize drugs etc.

Unfortunately almost any one of these changes cannot be implemented without requiring drastic system wide changes that will cost A LOT OF MONEY. Taking more cases to trial and stopping the plea bargaining will require more ASAs, Judges, Court Reporters, Courtrooms, PD's, Bailiffs, etc. All at great cost, and it would take months if not years to assemble all of these people. This assumes that these trials will result in an increase in guilty verdicts and stiffer sentences.

Hiring more police sounds wonderful, but the BCPD continues to struggle to meet its recruitment goals, and as a result is forced to hire some sub-standard applicants. Furthermore, the pay is higher in certain surrounding municipalities. To compete with them, more funds would have to be allocated, and even if 2,000 people signed up today, it'd be months of training before they would be able to hit the streets.

In terms of throwing people in jail, prisons are extremely expensive to build, maintain and operate. Through unsound fiscal policy Maryland is not basking in the $$$, and building additional prisons is not a high priority, and already most of our prisons are quickly approaching capacity. It sounds great to say, just adopt the federal system, and greatly limit diminution credits and parole, but if Maryland did so, our prison system would burst at the seems in a matter of weeks.

Liberally granting CCW permits may make a small impact. Certainly some people will sign up, but outside of anecdotal evidence, how many people will begin carrying, and will this do anything to deter crime? I doubt it.

Decriminalizing drugs may have some impact, even a great impact, but it's frankly just not going to happen. I would certainly support it, but I'll be waiting for the Easter Bunny to stop by until it does.

In order for change to occur it'll require the dedicated efforts of several persons over the course of several years, if not decades.