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Perpetual adolescence

Posted by Richard on November 25, 2006

Stanley Crouch recently spent some time surrounded by young (18-35) black men and was appalled. So he wrote this column telling them to grow up. He acknowledged that the phenomenon isn’t restricted to the black community, but was quick to "disrespect" the hip hop culture with a particularly biting metaphor:

As a father with a daughter nearly 30 years old who has never been close to marrying anyone, I was once more struck by what my offspring describes as "a lack of suitable men." She has complained often about the adolescent tendencies of young black men, as will just about any young black woman when the subject comes up.

Those who believe that America is perpetually adolescent will point at the dominance of frat-boy attitudes among successful white men and will say of the black hip-hop generation, "So what? How could they not be adolescent? They are not surrounded by examples of celebrated maturity. The society worships movie stars, wealthy athletes and talk show hosts. These are not the wisest and most mature of people."

There is more than a little bit right about that. Our culture has been overwhelmed by the adolescent cult of rebellion that emerges in a particularly stunted way from the world of rock ‘n’ roll. That simpleminded sense of rebelling against authority descended even further when hip hop fell upon us from the bottom of the cultural slop bucket in which punk rock curdled.

Both Crouch and a woman writer with whom he discussed the phenomenon had thoughtful comments on the nature of the problem. Neither proposed a solution. Since I’m white, I can’t say much without being called ignorant and insensitive at best and racist at worst.

Crouch, being black, risks the same fate as Bill Cosby, Juan Williams, Ward Connerly, and others who dared challenge the orthodoxy about helplessness, oppression, and victimhood — being called an Uncle Tom, oreo, or traitor, being accused of "acting white," and being rejected, ridiculed, and reviled, instead of being praised as the examples and role models they should be.

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