If you watch or listen to the news, read the paper or numerous popular books on current events, or perhaps simply check out the movies, video games or music videos, you’ve probably formed a number of conceptions of quality of life among Africans in the United States.
Everyone knows, for instance, that teen pregnancy and out of wedlock births are increasing, that violence is increasing, that poverty is increasing, that post-secondary enrollment is down, that high school completion and grades are down, that literacy is down, the voting is down, and that self-respect is down.
Everybody knows all the above is true. And everybody is wrong.
Sadly, many of the people who believe the above myths are the Black public intellectuals of the United States. Some are conservatives in the service of right wing think tanks. Others define themselves as progressives or even revolutionaries. Still others are popular entertainers who’ve been paid spokesmen for White corporate America.
Thankfully, some academics are using the modest and sensible tools of research to counter reaction. Tonight we’ll hear from sociologist Algernon Austin, director of the Thora Institute and author of the recent book Getting it Wrong: How Black Public Intellectuals Are Failing Black America.
The book is a correcting of the myth of the Black underclass, myths about African Americans and crime, myths of African American educational decline, and the myths of Afrikan American cultural deficiency and self-hatred.
Austin also authored Achieving Blackness, and is editor of the Thora Institute’s Black Directions reports on social issues affecting African Americans. He has taught sociology at DePaul and Wesleyan universities.
On September 16th, Professor Austin spoke with me by telephone from his home in Connecticut. I began by asking him what factors were responsible for the increasing success of African students in the United States.
6 PM Mountain Time