(Readers: Please note the blog is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, after reading a few recent entries, you might want to start at the beginning. More about the blog and about the author. )

Scene: Pizza joint with Jordan and Rock Man discussing ideas to help get blacks off the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Initial episode for this section begins #67 “Why Do Blacks Remain at the Bottom of the Economic Ladder?”

Rock Man: “You know I am a big believer in neighborhood schools. Kids should walk or ride a bike to school. Why are we bussing all these kids?”
Jordan: “Create equality, at least the perception of equality.”
122813_2140_15Education4.jpg Rock Man: “But it’s not working. This might sound like heresy but as blacks we need to focus on getting a quality education in our neighborhoods. Drop the busing and take the money and spend on getting more and better teachers.”
Jordan: “I agree with you. But getting widespread support for such an idea is going to take a lot of talking and convincing, just to consider the idea of neighborhood schools and less busing.”
Rock Man: “I think you might be surprised at how quickly people accept the idea, if we present it properly. And I’ll tell who can help.”
Jordan: “Who’s that?”
Jordan: “A key group we have left out of this conversation so far? Black churches. Actually all churches, or religious institutions, but really black-dominated churches.”
Jordan: “You’re right. What role do you think churches should play.”
Rock Man: “Churches have been part of the black community for a long, long time. I think blacks need to rebuild the influence of the churches.”
Jordan: “We’ve been talking about product – the product being the black community. So churches need to be a major part of the community?”
Rock Man: “Definitely. Not only as a moral compass but as a foundation for a broader education.”
chrch2Jordan: “I’m the one who always resists solutions before understanding the issues. But what about schools supported by black churches?”
Rock Man: “Why not? Catholics and Baptists have supported their own schools for years. And now with public money.”
Jordan: “Not sure of the mechanics to start a school but many states support charter schools. There must be a template the black churches can follow.”
Rock Man: “We don’t want to make religion a key part of the positioning statement but is there any better place than a church to introduce and teach core values?”
Jordan: “I agree. Please excuse me for this sidebar comment. People get all hung up on the differences between religions. How many people have you heard claim ‘I don’t trust that religion because…’ Yet, if you list the core values of most…not all…but most major religions, there’s about 90% commonality.”
Rock Man: “Never thought about it that way.”
Jordan: “And with that bit of information my follow-up question to you is, ‘If you agreed with your spouse 90% of the time, what would your relationship be like?”
Rock Man: “Fantastic. I see your point. Let’s make black churches part of the solution. And not worry whether the denomination is Baptist, Presbyterian or something else.”
Jordan: “We are going to exclude one religion from this effort. And you know which one.”
Rock Man: “I know. We have got to walk away…no run…from that group.”
Jordan: “Good. Now let’s segue to the ‘people’ section of the analysis. Rock Man, who or what type of people do you think has the most influence with the black community.”
Rock Man: “You mean, who has the most influence now or should have the most influence?”
Jordan: “Both.”
Rock Man: “Most influence now with young people – and it bothers me to say this – athletes and, yuck, drug dealers.”
Jordan: “Who should have the most influence?”
Rock Man: “Family, churches and educators.”
Jordan: “What we need to do is make sure our plan allows families, churches and educators to have more influence.”
Rock Man: “We talked about how to reduce the influence of athletes. Now, how do we get rid of drug dealers? Dealers and gangs are a major influence on younger blacks.”
Jordan: “Let’s start with why are dealers so influential?”
Rock Man: “Jordan, you are naïve. Easy, money. Kids see how much money they can make pushing drugs.”
Jordan: “What about the risk?”
Rock Man: (Laughing) “As a kid you don’t think much about the added risk. Your whole life is filled with risk. Besides what’s the alternative for making money?”
Jordan: “A job.”
McDonalds Logo Rock Man: “Where? If you’re lucky…and I mean real lucky…you get a job at some fast-food joint. And the pay?”
Jordan: “Minimum wage probably.”
Rock Man: “You got it. Let’s say the kid makes $10/hr. For 40 hours work, he makes $400 gross, maybe $325-$350 net.”
Jordan: “And what does he make selling drugs?”
Rock Man: “Probably the same amount in one night. In a year, a kid pushing drugs might make $50 grand or more. And he’s making more than anyone else in the household.”
Jordan: “And the kid working 10x longer hours at Mickey D’s is making maybe 20 grand.”
Rock Man: “Now, my friend, you understand the problem.“
To be continued.