Monday, August 28, 2006

Titan Coach

Some interesting fun last week. The company I work for gave a sizable donation to a local charitable organization (God bless 'em) and I got to go to the receptions that were given for large donors. The first was a luncheon where the keynote speaker was Coach Herman Boone, whose coaching experiences were dramatized (some have said overly so) in the movie "Remember the Titans".

Before I level any criticisms to some of the things coach Boone had said, let me say that he appears to genuinely care about helping disadvantaged kids. Even later in the day, when he was obviously under the influence of more highballs than I'll drink in my life, he was quite adamant about the need to help kids and to keep them on the right path. I plan on putting him in my "very well intentioned, but mildly misguided" file.

However, in the course of talking up betterment of kids at the luncheon, he made disparaging remarks about Daniel Patrick Moynihan's The Negro Family: the Case for National Action, a report Moynihan had written up while working at the department of labor under the Johnson administration. The basic gist of the report is that the high rate of out of wedlock births in the black community was/is going to cause grave social ills for American blacks.

Coach Boone went into how Moynihan had bad mouthed black women in his report and how it was long on racism and short on solutions (I greatly paraphrase). He then went on to detail issues facing the black community including high crime*, poor education, lack of ambition, etc., in other words, the very things that Moynihan had predicted in his report! How would the coach rectify this I wondered? It was obviously a huge hole in his logic, but since he had blabbered on for about fifteen minutes since last mentioning the report I figured he'd drop it. However, he knew that he'd left the main topic of his discussion weakened (how to best help kids in bad environments) by bad mouthing one of the main things being pushed in order to help (responsible, family behavior)**. He then continued to paper this hole over by accusing Monyiahn of pushing a stereotype of unsuccessful blacks that both blacks and whites decided on their own to accept. I couldn't help but to roll my eyes, at which point I noticed that most (all) of the audience had long since tuned him out; his argument being too stupid for the more learned and too boring for everyone else.


Later that evening, the charitable organization held a smaller get together at The House of Blues in downtown Cleveland. Since I went with Mrs. Sandmich and I was nominally a representative of my workplace, I decided not to take advantage of the open bar (oh the pain!). As a bonus though, Coach Boone and some of the players from his old team were selling posters that had been signed by all the members of the team that the movie is based off of. In the process of obtaining the autographs, Coach Boone (who had taken advantage of the open bar in my stead) was kind, and drunk enough to get his picture taken with the Sandmich:

*He repeated the canard of there being more black men in prison than in college; I'll not get into it now, but that's akin to saying that there are more oranges grown than there are cars produced - the two are, for the most part, unrelated.

*Favorable interest in Moynihan's report isn't a monopoly held by conservatives. Moynihan himself was a lifelong Democrat of course, but
this article details just a little of the favorable press it has gotten:
Both the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times ran series on the black family in 1983, followed by a 1985 Newsweek article called “Moynihan: I Told You So” and a 1986 CBS documentary, The Vanishing Black Family, produced by Bill Moyers, a onetime aide to Lyndon Johnson, who had supported the Moynihan report. The most symbolic moment came when Moynihan himself gave Harvard’s prestigious Godkin lectures in 1985 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of “The Negro Family.”

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