The Other Black Lives That Matter
The victims of violent crime, rather than the perpetrators.
In my web-reading this week, I stumbled across two statistics that made me sit up straight. The first came from a devastating story last September about my home city’s public schools. I had just watched a slick new video from DC Public Schools about their new “equity” push, which aims to go “beyond students’ academics” and “call out inequities.” The video is full of vague-sounding pabulum — they never define what they mean by “equity,” for example, apart from invoking Ibram X Kendi’s term “antiracism” — but the message is very clear: “equity” is now the central focus of the school district. And it’s a bright new day!
Now check out the data on how the DC Public School system is faring. A key metric is what they call “proficiency rates” — a test of whether the kids are passing the essentials of reading and math at every stage of their education. Overall, only 31 percent of DC students have proficiency in reading and just 19 percent have proficiency in math. Drill down further in the racial demographics and the picture is even worse: among African-American kids, the numbers are 20 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Among black boys, it’s 15 percent and 9 percent. Which means to say that DC Public Schools graduate kids who are overwhelmingly unable to do the most basic reading and math that any employer would need.
This is not a function of money. In the most recent federal analysis: DC spends far more per student — $30,000 a year — than any other state, double the amount in many states across the country.
Let’s put it this way: if this were a corporation, it would be in liquidation. If it were a house, it would be condemned. But since it’s a public school system, it can avoid this catastrophic failure by emphasizing “equity”!
Call this the woke dodge. As they fail to educate kids in the very basics, they brandish a shiny object over there — “Diversity! Equity! Inclusion! ” — to distract us. Or they claim that these scores are caused by “white supremacy” or “systemic racism.” Or they argue that now, they are educating “the whole child.” From the DCPS video: “The racial equity lens is a critical component of ‘whole child’ for us because being a whole child means thinking about all of your identities, but certainly the racial identity is a gap in what we’re discussing as a country.” Anything but do the basic job of teaching math and reading as they are supposed to do.
The truth is: they obviously can’t teach those subjects successfully. I’m sure many are good teachers doing their best, and some manage to rescue some of these kids, who often face terrible trauma in their homes and neighborhoods. But the data overall are damning. Imagine spending $30K a year on a student, any kid, in any country, and after 12 years, he still can’t spell or do basic math. It must be really hard to pull that off. And as a reward, you get a shitload of money from the city and the feds to keep it up. Criticize them? You’re a “white supremacist.”
Then there’s the other stat that blew my mind — on the post-BLM surge in murders of African-Americans, including many children. The rise in homicide has cooled off somewhat, as Robert Verbruggen notes. But check this out:
Between the 2018–2019 and 2020–2021 periods, the black homicide rate went up by about 40 percent and the white one by 15 percent — already a glaring disparity. But since the black homicide rate started out so much higher than the white one, this translated to an increase of just 0.4 per 100,000 for whites and 9.7 per 100,000 for blacks — nearly 25 times as large. The increase in the black homicide rate was greater than the total homicide rate for the nation as a whole.
Read that last sentence again.
Far too many African-Americans live under the threat of constant, murderous violence. In DC in 2022, nine percent of all homicides were of minors — higher than the previous year, and an obvious factor preventing them from learning, and causing trauma among their peers. According to DCPS, 76 percent of students have witnessed a violent act, and 70 percent have been attacked by members of their own family.
Can you imagine what would be done if this were true for white kids? Can you imagine what outcry there would be if nine percent of murders were of white children? Or if these killings were happening across the District and not concentrated in primarily black sections? There would be instant demands for immediate security, much more funding for the police, all sorts of programs to keep children safe. But because these kids are black and effectively segregated by geography, we carry on as if there is nothing much to see here.
A case in point: what is the response of the DC Council to this sort of crisis? Roughly what the completely broken school system has done in the face of its catastrophic failure: distract the public by getting even woker, by lowering sentences for violent crimes, and giving alleged murderers more tools to dodge or delay justice. The woke dodge again.
Worse, the DC Council is clearly sending a signal not only that we are not in a crisis, but that, if anything, we need to be more lenient on criminals, and let the kids fare as best they can. Because “equity.” And for good measure, the woke dismiss or try to cancel anyone who dares to make these obvious points. Or they accuse us of bad faith. Or even being racists because we care about this stuff. (You are racist if you don’t care about this, but also racist if you do — see how that works?) Or that the color of our skin means we have no standing to talk or write about this at all.
But hear this racist out: wouldn’t it be an improvement if schools focused on reading and math to the exclusion of almost everything else, if crime against black people were treated like crime against white people, and if there were a focus on “equity” for black victims of crime rather than for the criminals themselves?
You can say I’m a dreamer — but someone’s got to be.
(Note to readers: This is an excerpt of The Weekly Dish. If you’re already a subscriber, click here to read the full version. This week’s issue also includes: a piece pushing back on the lies of the WokePo’s coverage of DeSantis on black history; a very revealing convo with Rod Dreher on his crises of faith and family — and his LSD path to Christianity; reader and listener dissents over homosexuality, The Banshees of Inisherin, Russiagate, the Twitter Files and Hillary Clinton; eight notable quotes from the week in news, 16 recommendations for great reading on Substack, two tribe-defying quotes for the Yglesias Award; a Mental Health Break of Star Trek snippets; a wintry view of Saskatchewan and a gorgeous sunset in Los Feliz; and, of course, the results of the View From Your Window contest — with a new challenge. Subscribe for the full Dish experience!)
From a “Super Happy Dishhead”:
In your latest column, you got to more of the deeper themes of The Banshees of Inisherin than my wife and I picked up on when we watched the movie a month or so ago. I only got as deep as the banal juxtaposition of the Irish Civil War with Paddy and Colm’s civil war. Boy, I should have been paying closer attention! Still really enjoyed the movie, but thanks for digging deeper.
And everything else last week, from the MHB (what a great surprise ending!) to “In the ‘Stacks,” is just delightful — my favorite way to spend Saturday morning drinking coffee with my lovely partner. Thanks for such an amazing Dish.
A quick note from a listener on the new Dishcast format:
I’m very happy with your decision to move to a private paywalled podcast — makes total sense, given how much free value you’re currently putting out there, and the 102 full episodes you’ve had available for free during the past two years. Also, I understand that the world of private podcast feeds is inexplicably awful on the technical front, but is there anything you can do on the Spotify front? I, like an increasing number of people I think, use Spotify as my only podcast player, and using another one just for your private feed is a bit of a nuisance.
Unfortunately we don’t have any control over the inability of the private feed to play on Spotify. Apologies. Also, a reminder to paid subscribers who listen to the Dishcast on your desktop rather than podcast apps: you don’t have to do anything new for the private feed. Lastly, if you happen to have both the free feed and the paid feed loaded on your podcast app, you can distinguish the paid feed by seeing “(private feed for email@example.com)” just below the beagle logo — and you should probably unfollow the free feed to avoid any confusion in your scrolling.
New On The Dishcast: Rod Dreher
Rod is an old-school blogger and author living in Budapest. He’s a senior editor at The American Conservative and has written several bestsellers, including The Benedict Option and Live Not by Lies. He’s currently writing a book about bringing enchantment back to Christianity in a time of growing secularism. He was enchanted himself after taking LSD in college, putting him on the path to Christianity — something he hasn’t talked about in public until now. We’ve been sparring online for a couple of decades, while remaining friends.
Listen to the episode here. There you can find two clips of our convo — on Rod coming to terms with his father being in the KKK, and breaking from the Catholic Church after learning of suicides by sex-abuse victims. That link also takes you to listeners tackling our episode with Carl Trueman on the nature of homosexuality. Others take me to task over my chat with Matt Taibbi — specifically on Russiagate, the Twitter Files, and our shared disdain of Hillary Clinton. We also air many elegant emails on The Banshees of Inisherin, so don’t miss all the varied, smart discussion from Dishheads. It’s why you should become a paid-up member, and be able to listen to the full hour and a half of Rodness:
Browse the entire Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy — more than 100 episodes and counting.
Lies, Damned Lies, And Coverage Of DeSantis
The governor of Florida has banned the teaching of African-American history in his state. That’s what the WokePo’s Karen Attiah claims:
There’s that saying that goes, “White privilege is when your history is the core curriculum, and mine is an elective.” Well, to Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Black history isn’t even worthy of that bare minimum.
The title of her column — “Florida is offering an advanced lesson in anti-Blackness” — is as calm and reasoned as her text. DeSantis is “stabbing the backs of Black Floridians with a hot knife.” Her colleague Jennifer Rubin makes the point that DeSantis has “gone full-blown white supremacist.” She went on: “The goal here is unmistakable: eradication of African American historical experience.” The White House press secretary (not Rubin) said that “the state chooses to block a course that is meant for high-achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture.”
These are all lies. Any brief examination of the facts would reveal this.
(Read the rest of my examination here, available for paid subscribers)
I was on the season opener of Real Time last Friday with Nancy Mace, the sharp heterodox congresswoman from South Carolina. A bit of the action:
Bill Barr joined us for the Overtime segment available in full on YouTube.
Dissent Of The Week: Bogged Down By Bigotry
A reader isn’t a fan, like I am, of The Banshees of Inisherin:
I’m just in the middle of my second bout of Covid since November 2022, so I watched Banshees. One of the things about you and your opinions is I often find it satisfies my own US/UK dual-citizenship conflicts. On this one, I have to say I don’t understand. I found the story just a mundane repetition of all the worst English 19th century stereotyping of the Irish: clever and poetic, but drunk, boring, bland, ignorant, lazy, riven by superstition, consumed by petty grievances, and violent.
In the 1990s, I worked on and off in Cork. I was the American who came over to review the plant and manage legal matters. It was a great experience and gave me a chance to talk to my Irish colleagues about all sorts of things. And over and over I heard the same thing: stop listening to stereotypes about Ireland and open your eyes to our true history, culture, and who we are.
Let me emphasize that I’m not offended by the movie; I’m not angry; I’m not going to start posting on social media, etc. I’m not saying it’s racist, etc. It’s just a dull movie trafficking in a simplistic view of Ireland. I didn’t laugh once and was shocked that you found it funny. The scenery is breathtaking, and my wife and I watched some scenes with the sound off after my first viewing just so she could see it without the stereotyping.
My English family is 35% Irish DNA makeup and my wife is Irish-American. So, perhaps we’re overly sensitive. But I can only imagine what would be happening if someone made a beautiful movie on the American South but all the blacks were portrayed as Buckwheat.
Much more discussion of Banshees is over on the pod page. Honestly, the Dishhead input on the film is as erudite, varied and fascinating as any critics anywhere. It’s why you should subscribe to explore a much richer Dish than this free version:
As always, keep the dissents coming: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In The ‘Stacks
This is a feature in the paid version of the Dish spotlighting more than a dozen of our favorite pieces from other Substackers every week. This week’s selection covers subjects such as the Antifa violence in Atlanta, the lack of monogamy in mammals, and a debate over remote work. Below are a few examples:
Kirsten Powers on the “anti-aging grift” that targets Millennials.
A popular post on TikTok as “a new type of superweapon.”
You can also browse all the substacks we follow and read on a regular basis here — a combination of our favorite writers and new ones we’re checking out. It’s a blogroll of sorts. If you have any recommendations for “In the ‘Stacks,” especially ones from emerging writers, please let us know: email@example.com.
The View From Your Window Contest
Where do you think it’s located? Email your guess to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put the location — city and/or state first, then country — in the subject line. Proximity counts if no one gets the exact spot. Bonus points for fun facts and stories. The winner gets the choice of a VFYW book or two annual Dish subscriptions. If you are not a subscriber, please indicate that status in your entry and we will give you a free month subscription if we select your entry for the contest results (example here if you’re new to the contest). Happy sleuthing!
The results for last week’s window are coming in a separate email to paid subscribers later today. Below is a preview of some of the entries. Last week’s winner has a fun find:
This might amuse you. My friend and teammate visited me this week — the week after we were selected winners of contest #359. (Thank you for the free annual subscriptions for the whole team.) We were celebrating (which involved drinking). He was using an AI chatbot to see if it could answer any questions regarding some landscaping needs I have in my yard.
Out of pure fun he asked the AI chatbot for the answer to this week’s contest. The result:
AI is no match for a VFYW sleuth. Here’s another fun find from our musical sleuth in Indy:
A friend of mine sent me this today: “Wonders of Street View.” I found some cool things while googling VFYW but nothing as great as some of the Street Views here.
She later adds:
Your comment about Muriel’s Wedding, OMG! I completely forgot about that movie using ABBA songs. That clip is fantastic! That movie is notorious in our house. My husband and I saw it in the theaters when it came out and he absolutely hated it! I loved it. (He hates “weird” movies :) My son must have gotten my weird-movie gene because that dude loves weird movies. And that clip!
What’s funny about the other sleuth’s recommendation of the band Opeth is that they came up a lot in my review of bands, but as the sleuth said, “I doubt there’s much overlap between Dishheads and metalheads.”
And thanks for your band recommendation of The Knife. I didn’t realize “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez was a remake!
The Gonzalez version was featured years ago on the Daily Dish as a Cool Ad Watch:
Join the fun — subscribe to the Dish to get the full results of the View From Your Window contest every week. And see you next Friday.