Book review: White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay

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Far from the promised discussion on “How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay”, this book is a tirade against liberal America. The “facts” presented are based in opinion, and do not readily reflect the truth or depth of our current society.

*The following does include my personal reflections, thoughts and reactions as I read through the book. This is the official spoiler alert, should you choose to continue.*

On pg. 4, Parker cites the statistic of 1/4 of black children being born out of wedlock increasing to 3/4 in recent years. She states this is a problem of “transient fathers”. While there is a cultural problem of men not staying with families and supporting children, this is a societal problem taught to this section of society by the habit of locking massively disproportionate numbers of African American males up for nonviolent and often victimless crimes – at a longer average sentence length than white offenders of the same crime. On the same page, and throughout the book, she refers to Hurricane Katrina as an example of unbased calls calls of racism by “liberal America”. In this instance, she said the women and children were most affected because there was “no man to lead them out”. Isn’t this the 21st Century? This isn’t Saudi Arabia, women can drive. Family units had nothing to do with the inability of Katrina victims to get out, but the low income, lack of transportation and movement. From personal experience in the Detroit area, most inner-city dwellers don’t go outside their neighborhoods due to lack of transportation, much less have the ability to pack up and move out of harms way in cases of natural disasters.

Her internalized racism is extensive. On pg. 11, she says “integration gone awry” in reference to white kids buying rap music. I’ll just leave that there for you to ponder. She continues with aggressive intolerance, citing on pg. 22, a “powerful homosexual movement in schools”. Nobody is training your child to be gay. If they’re gay, they’re gay. It’s really that simple. Pg. 24 says that “a recent Gallup poll shows that 54% of Americans today approve of homosexuals being elementary school teachers”. This just brings to mind a Tweet in which someone was condemning their child’s teacher for being gay with a grammatical error, and someone politely responded something along the lines of, “if they are able to teach my child the difference between they/there/their, I’ll gladly have them teach.”

Pg. 30 she refers to HIV instances among black women can be traced to the “appallingly high percentage of black men who have done time in prison”. Prison is often undeserved, and our racially off-balance “justice” system has been privatized for capitalist gain. Attacking a community for symptoms of a disease that they have no control over is a grand sign of the institutionalized racism that is being projected in this book.

Pg. 46, she refers to “insurgents”, in reference to people who are defending their homelands against an (our) unauthorized invasion. While we, as a country, have moved more towards distant drone warfare to protect our own lives, we are still indiscriminately killing women and children who these “insurgents” were protecting.

On pg. 52, Parker actually supports an argument that women could have “less inherent ability” to participate in academics.

Pg. 64, “white racism has subsided dramatically since the 1960s”. Institutional racism has, but not personal encounters. I know this was written before the recent spikes in hate crimes over 2015-2016, but I do believe this is a good indicator of how intentionally naive the author is about the gravity of our current situation.

Pg. 71. “Black energy turned into a quest for equal rights”, as if that is a bad thing. Not wanting to prosper under the horrors of Jim Crow and wanting to actually be equal isn’t that absurd of a notion. She continues the next few pages, and on pg. 74 states “equality is determined only by God,” which to me echoes the slave owners use of the Bible to justify slavery.

Pg. 85, she tries to connect abortion rights with racism. She cites that 13 million black babies have been aborted since 1973, completely ignoring the fact that leave the vast majority of abortions performed to be for white women. She also uses “black” as synonymous with “inner-city”, which opens the door for many other problematic assumptions.

On pg. 118, Parker states that the Democratic party is stuck in a time warp. I don’t know how liberals are in a time warp, unless she’s speaking of warp-speed progressive policies that should have been implemented decades ago.

Pg. 120, she rants against communism’s danger, because it creates hungry people. Our Democratic Republic faces the same issues. Capitalism hasn’t saved us from poverty, but has in fact created incredible wealth inequality and ever-growing amounts of food and housing insecurity. Socialism and communism don’t prevent classism, but there are a lot lower crime rates than under capitalist societies. I’ve heard many people – first hand – who used to live under socialist regimes state that they sometimes wish they returned due to the ability to leave doors unlocked and allow children to walk the streets at night.

Pg. 126, she again comes back to the “homosexual agenda”, which she states is an attack on traditional values. I sense a major sense of memory loss, because biracial marriages were considered “immoral” until quite recently.

Pg. 140, she states “freedom produces prosperity”, to which I ask: what is China’s secret?

Pg. 152, she is complaining that there are not “Christian” characters allowed on mainstream TV. As someone who grew up watching Touched By An Angel, the openly religious Dana Skully on The X-Files, and continue to watch the religious struggle of Law and Order’s Detective Stabler, I wonder if she actually watches TV.

Across pages 152 and 153, she makes a false equivalence between hate crimes against homosexuals and homosexuals who commit crimes. She goes so far as to insinuate that homosexuality should be outlawed because homosexual men committed crime.

On pg. 157, she again refers to “liberal courts” in reference to our Justice System, particularly SCOTUS. She is speaking about Roe v. Wade, and I’m curious as to if she realizes it was a “conservative” court that passed down the 1973 ruling.

Pg. 172, Parker asks, “have ordinary Americans become anti-religious?” To which I answer, no. Americans have become progressively more accepting of our diverse and multi-faith country. Becoming less Christian does not equate to being less religious, it is merely acknowledging and embracing our increasingly pluralistic society. She doesn’t seem to understand pluralism, and is speaking outside her bounds in other areas. Pg. 173, she states “every culture and religion…divorce was taboo”. Islam, for one, provides a clear outline for the acceptability of divorce in cases of necessity. It’s more important for physical and psychological well-being of everyone involved to be able to move on with life instead of maintaining a shiny, false exterior image of unity. While many cultures around Islam have made it taboo, the religion itself does not.

On page 177, she asserts that the first amendment does not allow for freedom FROM religion, only freedom OF religion. Why do many conservatives try to ban burkas, hijab (re: recent 2016 Georgia bill that was to include banning hijab in public places, which as thankfully removed from consideration), or have issues with mosques being built and the call to prayer broadcast audibly?

On pg. 224, she attacks without “Islamic” countries without basis. “Islamic countries do little or nothing to benefit the poor…” In 2013, the United Kingdom acknowledged Muslim residents as having given more charity than any other religious group in the UK. Saudi Arabia, a favorite example of “Islamic” countries, does admittedly have wealth inequality rivaling what we see in the U.S., yet the government provides free school and health care to all residents. We are not a country to be pointing fingers at treatment of poor, with skyrocketing homelessness, food insecurity, and inaccessible health care.

Overall, I did not like this book. I see it to be a comforting book to those who feel threatened by the United States progression to a pluralistic, mutli-faith, multi-cultural country. I leave you with an unattributed quote, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”.

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