During a recent event, Michelle Obama complained about “white flight” in her old Chicago neighborhood.
“White flight ” is when white people leave neighborhoods as more African Americans move in. Michelle said she saw “white flight” happen in her neighborhood. “Upstanding families like ours, who were doing everything we were supposed to do and better — as we moved in, white folks moved out, because they were afraid of what our families represented,” Michelle said. “I always stop there when I talk about this out in the world because I want to remind white folks that y’all were running from us. This family, with all the values you read about: You ran from us. And you’re still running,” she lectured.
Radio host Larry Elder says, “Not so fast, Michelle.” It’s not as “black and white” an issue as she makes it seem in her lecture.
Elder goes on to share a story that happened on his first day of high school at Washington High in South Central L.A.
On my very first day, I was by myself eating my lunch. There was a white kid a few yards away eating his lunch, when three or four black kids approached him. One black guy reached into his pocket and pulled out a white handkerchief, placing it across the rail the white kid was leaning against. He told the white kid, “Pick up that handkerchief and shine my shoe.” The stunned white kid said, “Excuse me?” The black kid repeated the demand, pointed to a clock on the wall, and said, “When the clock hits 1 o’clock and the bell goes off and you haven’t shined my shoe, I’m gonna kick your a–.” The white kid kept asking why, what did he do to warrant this abuse? The black kid replied, “Because I told you to.”
The white kid refused. The bell rang. The black kid slammed his fist into the white kid’s face. But the white kid knew some form of martial arts, so he assumed a fighting position and repeatedly struck the black kid, knocking him down. Then the black kid’s friends jumped in and started pounding on the white kid. Soon several other blacks joined in and started hitting the white kid, too. The white kid started running, and a group of some 20 blacks ran after him.
This was my first day.
Throughout that semester, I observed several instances, thankfully not this dramatic, in which whites — boys and girls — were verbally abused and physically bullied. In one case, a big, muscular black kid walked through a crowded hall between class periods and struck white male students in the chest with his fist, pointedly allowing black kids to walk by undisturbed.
No doubt, there were instances of white versus black clashes in which white kids were the instigators. But I never observed any. How many white kids went home to their parents and complained about the taunts and the bullying? To what degree did this contribute to the “white flight” that Michelle Obama complained about and implied was completely due to anti-black racism? [Town Hall]
Elder’s example meant to add another side to the coin. What Michelle brushes off as “racism,” could actually have been a whole host of varying reasons.
I can relate to Larry’s point.
My family is from Detroit. I’d spend weeks at my grandparent’s house, or with my aunts and uncles who all lived in primarily African American neighborhoods on the city, and nobody thought anything negative about it. My grandparents and aunts and uncles had amazing neighbors, friends, and all the kids that my cousins and I played with were great.
However, after a string of break-ins at my grandparent’s house, they had to leave for their own safety. They didn’t “flee.” They weren’t running away from “black people.” They were leaving because they didn’t feel safe due to crime. They were actually heartbroken to leave their home. My aunts and uncles moved out of their neighborhoods too. One aunt left after her husband died in a car accident because the “memories” in the house were too painful. My other aunt and her husband left because they had twins coming and wanted a big backyard for 4 kids and a couple of dogs to roam around. It had nothing to do with “racism.” They still talk fondly about their homes in Detroit and their amazing neighbors.
Michelle Obama also inadvertently offered another reason for “white flight.” During the 2008 campaign, “60 Minutes” interviewed her and Barack Obama. Correspondent Steve Croft asked Michelle whether, given the possibility that Barack Obama could become the first black president, she feared for his safety. “I don’t lose sleep over it,” she replied, “because the realities are that … as a black man … Barack can get shot going to the gas station. … So, you know, you can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen. We just weren’t raised that way.”
Isn’t Michelle Obama conceding that some neighborhoods are more dangerous than others? Chicago is about one-third black, one-third white and one-third Hispanic. Yet, in the last 365 days in Chicago, blacks have been 55% of all homicide victims. And what about violent black-white interracial crime? According to the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2018, there were about 600,000 such instances. In 90% of them, the perpetrator was black, the victim white.
What about the quality of schools? To avoid her local public school, Michelle Obama spent almost three hours a day busing to a high school that her family felt offered her a better future.
My childhood neighborhood also saw “black flight.” Concerned about the declining quality of schools and neighborhood crime, some families moved out. No doubt, much of the “white flight” that Michelle spoke about and I witnessed was due to a bigoted fear of blacks. But she paints an incomplete and unfair picture by attributing the “flight” solely to racism. [Town Hall]
If Michelle Obama really wanted to put her money where her mouth is, she could move out of her gated D.C. community, or her Martha’s Vineyard mansion, and return to the communities that she’s so heartily defending. But she won’t do that, because thanks to decades of mismanagement, liberals have turned many of these cities into hopeless cesspools that nobody, including African Americans, want to live in.
And one more item to note. The last city I lived in before I moved out to the country had a blend of blacks and whites. I ended up leaving that community because I didn’t like the neighbors…But it wasn’t the black people I had an issue with. It was the loud, weird, unpolite white jerks who lived next door to me that turned me off. They were messy and obnoxious and the two men that lived there gave me the creeps.
Point is, it’s unfair to make blanket assumptions about why people may be leaving an area, and simply calling it “racism” is irresponsible and wrong, and does nothing to solve problems.
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