Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, is about to join its sisters Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse in being stripped of its municipal authority and ceded to an 'emergency manager.' Well-covered by commentators who can see, the story has also attracted observations such as:
“How come all of the jurisdictions put under emergency management are majority African American? Has anybody noticed that?” asked Rep. John Conyers (D), who has represented Detroit for 47 years.
How come indeed.
As Congressman Conyers implies, majority-Afro cities tend to elect majority-Afro city governments. As the average Afro is less well-endowed than other ethnies in future-time orientation, commonweal-orientation, industriousness, and logical aptitude, majority-Afro governments tend to govern poorly.
. . .
Haiti, the world's first Black Republic, stunned the planet in 1804 by driving out her European masters and embarking upon true self-government. A century later, adventurer and journalist Hesketh Prichard ambled from one end of the island to the other, to report on what one hundred years of freedom had wrought.
On the capital city:
At first sight Port-au-Prince looks fair enough to be worth travelling 5,000 miles to see; once enter it, and your next impulse is to travel 5,000 miles to get away again. [...] you walk through its cobbled streets with circumspection, for they are ankle-deep in refuse. No smallest effort is made at sanitation; the street-drains with all their contaminations flow down and help to fill up the harbour.
On the police:
The police are merely soldiers told off casually for the maintenance of the public safety. Their pay is ordinarily in arrears, and when remitted to someone in authority for distribution, reaches them in an attenuated form. In addition to this, they have to "keep themselves," but the administration has invented an ingenious method by which a truly zealous officer can manage to stave off starvation very well indeed.
In some towns, at any rate, they receive a capitation fee of fifty centimes -- a fluctuating sevenpence-halfpenny according to the exchange -- for every man they arrest. Fortunately, living is cheap, so that when hunger bears too hardly upon them the remedy of a timely prisoner is easily come by. There need be no superfluous scruples, such as waiting until a man commits an offence against the law. Pick a quarrel with any stray passer-by or pounce down upon him unawares.
On the military:
The Haytian, in spite of his huge pretensions, is, however, not naturally a soldier. Drill and discipline and the art of war are mere empty sounds to his ear. From his point of view they are entirely beside the question. What he cares for is to play at being a soldier ; he loves the accoutrement, the uniforms, the gold lace, especially the gold lace. He has a passion for military titles, military bombast, military display.
In course of time, I visited the Military Hospital, a place chiefly distinguished by the absence of everything that goes to make a hospital--cleanliness, comfort, nurses. In the dreary shed which goes by that name patients and attendants were represented by a man lying on the earthen floor, suffering from a broken leg, and a negress smoking a pipe on an upturned tub by the doorway.
On the prisons:
Moreover, the condition of the prisons all over the country is almost incredible when one considers that they exist in the midst of a community that calls itself civilised. [...] Doorless cells were round the walls, with straw upon the earth as in cages for wild beasts. Some prisoners were practically naked; a few had converted worn-out jackets into loin-cloths; all were in the last stage of destitution. Men, in iron anklets with a short chain between, stood or squatted round. All shades of colour were there, from yellow ochre to coal black, and everyone looked half-starved. Not a few had gaping wounds, and others were wearily ill, their backs furred with sickness and neglect.
On Haiti's second city, Cap-Haitien:
Go in whatever direction you like; the sights that meet you are the same. Ruined houses, ruined aqueducts, ruined fountains of stone, ruined walls, ruined forts. She bears upon her the indelible impress of the tremendous earthquake of 1842. [57 years earlier]
On the subject of the earthquake, he relates this anecdote:
Half the hillside was torn away by the shock which annihilated the city [in 1842]. The dread earthquake shook down or seriously injured almost every house, two-thirds of the inhabitants were buried beneath the fallen masonry ; bands of blacks rushed in from mountain and plain, not to aid in saving their wretched countrymen, whose cries and groans could be heard for two or three days, but to rob the stores and houses, while the officers and men of the garrison, instead of attempting to keep order, joined in plundering the small remnants of what the surviving inhabitants could save from the tottering ruins.
On the government:
As to the negro's position in the Government, there are in the Cabinet some capable men of African race, but sandwiched in amongst them are others who are mere caricatures -- men whose deserved place, I really do not think I am unjust or unfair in saying, ought to be rather the stoke-hole of a steamer.
One of the strongest tendencies in the Republic of to-day is the desire to keep the coloured [mulatto], as opposed to the black, man from office and emolument. [...] The personnel of the present Government is black enough to delight the heart of the most advanced negrophile. President Sam is of the ultra-negro type, and all the higher posts around him are filled with men of his own race. "Hayti for the Haytians," that war-cry of the people of the Republic, means really Hayti for the negro -- no mulatto need apply.
The black man can no more govern his black brother successfully without tyranny than you can reach a blind man's sense without touch or speech. No appeal is made to his reason; he is coerced by solid fear.
It seems impossible under black government for any undertaking or institution to be cared for, or kept up, or carried on. Some individual, in an ambitious moment, makes a start, but the beginning of any enterprise whatsoever is also the end; no one bothers to go on with it.
After two hundred and seventy-six pages of such observations, Prichard poses the burning question of his day:
Can the negro rule himself? Is he congenitally capable?
Inheriting a fully-functioning European-built infrastructure one hundred years before, what in fact had he made of it?
He has had his opportunity. That opportunity has lasted for a hundred years in a splendid land which he found ready prepared for him. Yet to-day we find him with a Government which, save in the single point of force majeure, has degenerated into a farce; and as for the country itself, houses and plantations have disappeared, and where clearings once were there is now impenetrable forest. Certainly he has existed through one hundred years of internecine strife, but he has never for six consecutive months governed himself in any accepted sense of the word. Today, and as matters stand, he certainly cannot rule himself.
Modern connoisseurs of Haiti need not be told that one hundred years on, Prichard's words ring as true as if the ink on them were still fresh.
. . .
Euro-built governments handed over to Afros have not generally fared well. Those unfazed by the Western media black-out on South Africa know all about its current slow implosion:
The central problem of writing about South Africa is that it is almost impossible to explain the country's slow-motion catastrophe in terms that make sense to foreigners. Consider these headlines, culled from just a fortnight's newspapers: Failed Billion-Dollar Education Program; Whistle-Blower Murdered, Wife of NIA Chief on Trial for Smuggling Cocaine, the NIA being our CIA.
In the West, scandals of this magnitude would topple governments. Here, they are almost meaningless. [...] In a week or two, these stories will be blown off the front pages by equally hair-raising scandals, most of which will also just fade away. It's been like this for years, and there comes a time when you stop paying attention lest the drumbeat of bad news drive you mad.
Or that of the D.R. Congo:
[The Belgians] introduced health care, water projects, education, telephones and power lines, helping to turn this once isolated village into one of the most affluent and best-tended cities in the core of equatorial Africa.
Today, the legacy of Kikwit's [Zaire] colonial past is swiftly disappearing. "Civilization is coming to an end here," said Rene Kinsweke, manager of Siefac, a chain of food stores. [...] "We're back where we started. We're going back into the bush."
It is difficult to exaggerate the dizzying pace of decay in this city of nearly 400,000 people. [...] Entire families now camp on sidewalks, in parks and even in cemeteries. Streets and backyards are littered with indescribable filth, and toward the edges of the city the roads crumble into dirty sand and then disappear altogether.
Or of Birmingham, Alabama:
Birmingham is 73 percent Black, home to some of the scariest neighborhoods in America. After a horrible Black-on-white rape incident back in the 1970s, Birmingham Southern College had to erect a fence around the school to keep out unwanted elements of the Black Undertow. [...] Let’s not forget that Birmingham was once home to six Fortune 500 companies (as late as 1999), but now only is home to one.
Now with the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, Jefferson County [seat of Birmingham] offers frightening proof of the overwhelming power of Black-Run America (BRA) and what happens when the Black Undertow takes control of a city’s destiny.
[Birmingham in 2010 = 22% White, 73% Black.
Birmingham in 1950 = 60% White, 40% Black.]
Or of Camden, New Jersey:
If you get into a car accident in Camden, the city’s chief of police has this advice: Don’t bother calling the cops unless there are injuries or blocked traffic. Likewise, don’t call about vandalism. Or minor thefts.
Thanks to the city’s budget crisis, 168 officers — almost almost every one hired since 1998 — were shown the door today. That leaves about 200 officers to police one of the country’s poorest and most dangerous cities.
[...] Since 2005 the school system and police department have been operated by the State of New Jersey; the takeover will expire in 2012. In 2008, Camden had the highest crime rate in the U.S. with 2,333 violent crimes per 100,000 people while the national average was 455 per 100,000.
[Camden in 2010 = 18% White, 48% Black, 47% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Camden in 1950 = 86% White, 14% Black, "N/A" Hispanic or Latino (not applicable).]
...or of many others.
'Give them time,' we are often told of America's Afros, 'they have just shaken off the shackles of segregation.' 'They'll begin functioning like Euros any moment now.' Today, fifty years after the end of Jim Crow, we may believe it. But such arguments have expiration dates. Looking at our free, self-governing Afro island neighbors to the south, can we be blamed for knitting our brows and wondering if we have one hundred and fifty still to wait?
In 1918 W.H. Collins wrote,
Negroes, with some exceptions, at that time [of Emancipation] were no more fit for the ballot than seven-year-old boys. Nor was it any more reasonable to expect them to act the part of men in using it, or in political affairs, than to expect it from seven-year-old boys. They were, and to a large extent are yet, a race in its childhood.
Revolting as it may sound to pronounce such words, what should matter to policy-makers is not Is it revolting, but rather Is it true. If it was true then, and still is true, then the consequences for Euro-American policy-makers are vast. Except for the brief disaster known as Reconstruction, the great experiment of putting municipal government into the hands of Afro-Americans is still young. The results thus far have ranged from worrying to calamitous. Bringing in ethnically Euro managers from the outside to save these cities from themselves may be the only answer, as unhappily this 'race in its childhood' shows time and again that its adulthood lies somewhere in the future.
Prichard, Hesketh, Where Black Rules White : A Journey Across and About Hayti. Westminster : A. Constable & Co., 1900.
Collins, Winfield H., The Truth About the Negro and Lynching in the South. New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1918.