Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Family Matters

 

This past Friday I was struck with a sense of loss and poignancy as I sat with a hospice patient to provide respite for her caretaker. The three hours I spent with her watching an old TV show from the 1980s and 1990s reminded me of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve fallen as a society.

* * *

Since the patient had moments of alertness in her bed, I didn’t want to change the channel. On the TV was an old show called Family Matters, a sitcom that had been extremely popular. I’d never watched it myself, so I was curious about the show. As we watched the show together, I realized I was witnessing a vignette of the black middle class in suburban Chicago, a community that is often overlooked.

As Larry Elder pointed out in this article, blacks were well on their way to becoming members of the middle class long before the 1960s:

Black economic progress increased tremendously, says economist Thomas Sowell, well before so-called ‘level the playing field’ government policies and programs. In fact, on this 40th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty,’ Sowell says the income gap between blacks and whites closed faster ‘pre-war’ than ‘post-war.’ ‘The economic rise of blacks began decades earlier,’ Sowell stated, ‘before any of the legislation and policies that are credited with producing that rise. The continuation of the rise of blacks out of poverty did not — repeat, did not — accelerate during the 1960s.

The show Family Matters, I believe, was a holdover of those memories that represented the progress of blacks well into the 20th century. The show’s main characters were a police sergeant, Carl Winslow, his working wife Harriette, son Eddie, Carl’s mother (Mother Winslow), Harriette’s sister and her son, and the elder daughter Laura. (A younger daughter was written out of the show). In the episodes I saw that day, I was especially touched by Laura, a teenager who actually had common sense, earned high grades, and became the student body president. In one episode, she had a new boyfriend who convinced her to take him to her bedroom. She realized she’d made a mistake when he made a move on her and then called her a “baby.” She proceeded to throw him out of her bedroom window.

I was also both annoyed and amused at a character who was added to the show, a teenage neighbor boy named Steve Urkel. He was exuberant, had a huge crush on Laura (and everyone knew it), was smart and nerdy, too. As outrageous and over-the-top his behavior was, he was embraced by the family in a grudgingly sweet way. They could have rejected him, but they accepted him, just as he was.

So what moved me about this show? This was a two-parent black family. The kids were polite. The grandmother, a feisty old woman, lived with the family, as did Harriette’s sister, who was a single mother — widowed. In other words, they were a middle-class nuclear family that followed what was once called normal values. The show ran for nine seasons and became the second-longest-running non-animated US sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast.

I realize that the show was somewhat contrived and was not the greatest example of performing arts. But it depicted blacks who were middle-class, who had jobs, who showed respect for each other, and who had conservative values. It demonstrated that blacks could be part of the larger society (through friends and schoolmates), and racism was not an issue (at least in the shows I saw).

* * *

As I packed up my knitting and turned to the patient in her bed, she made eye contact with me. I smiled and said goodbye, and for the first time during my visit, she smiled, waved her hand, and said goodbye.

Good manners, you know.

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There are 35 comments.

  1. OldPhil Coolidge

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    • #1
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    That had to be hysterical! It gave them full permission to be crazy . . . uh-oh . . . ;-)

    • #2
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 1 like
  3. PHCheese Member

    In the sixties I was invited to several salt and pepper parties in one of Pittsburgh’s most black neighborhoods. It was the furthest from my home and I had never been there before. I was surprised how prosperous it was. 25 years later I had the necessity to revisit the area. I was shocked how it had disintegrated. It was unrecognizable. The only business still operating was a bar out of dozens before. Drug sales were happening in the broad daylight on street corners. Broken down cars everywhere. Houses were either boarded up or falling down. I can’t explain it. There can’t be a simple answer.

    • #3
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:16 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    In the sixties I was invited to several salt and pepper parties in one of Pittsburgh’s most black neighborhoods. It was the furthest from my home and I had never been there before. I was surprised how prosperous it was. 25 years later I had the necessity to revisit the area. I was shocked how it had disintegrated. It was unrecognizable. The only business still operating was a bar out of dozens before. Drug sales were happening in the broad daylight on street corners. Broken down cars everywhere. Houses were either boarded up or falling down. I can’t explain it. There can’t be a simple answer.

    That is tragic, @phcheese. And a perfect example of what has transpired. I think one reason is that we sold blacks on the idea that they couldn’t take care of themselves, that they couldn’t compete, that they needed people to hold their hands. I guess when we threw money into the deal, we convinced them. It breaks my heart.

    • #4
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Aaron Miller Member

    There has long been a separation between black culture and black TV/film culture. For whatever reasons, there are black scriptwriters and directors consciously devoted to providing wholesome entertainment with ideal characters. It is similar to the movie idealism that was popular in the non-ethnic films of the 1940s and 1950s but since rejected. 

    There are directors like Spike Lee who prefer the “gritty realism” devoted to grievances and pessimism. There are comics like Richard Pryor who mistake shock value for humor when not restrained by a director or a script. There were “blaxsploitation” flicks. 

    But at least in my lifetime (1980s-), the norm seems to have been more like Tyler Perry morality plays, responsible TV fathers and devout TV mothers, blacks and whites getting along as neighbors with genuinely friendly jabs, and so on. Perhaps the BET-style insularity of black filmmakers helped free them of general trends. 

    Aspirational entertainment needn’t be the only mode of fiction, but it is always a welcome one.

    • #5
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:42 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Aspirational entertainment needn’t be the only mode of fiction, but it is always a welcome one.

    Did you invent that term, @aaronmiller? Thanks for commenting further on my original idea; it fills in the picture for all of us.

    • #6
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:53 AM PST
    • Like
  7. She Thatcher
    She

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    In the sixties I was invited to several salt and pepper parties in one of Pittsburgh’s most black neighborhoods. It was the furthest from my home and I had never been there before. I was surprised how prosperous it was. 25 years later I had the necessity to revisit the area. I was shocked how it had disintegrated. It was unrecognizable. The only business still operating was a bar out of dozens before. Drug sales were happening in the broad daylight on street corners. Broken down cars everywhere. Houses were either boarded up or falling down. I can’t explain it. There can’t be a simple answer.

    Hill District, much? (Short summary here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pittsburghs-hill-district-dream_b_1669867.) I don’t have direct experience with it myself, and by the time I went to university right next door (Duquesne) some years later, it was a place you wouldn’t want to be caught alone at night, but Mr. She speaks fondly of his attendance on the nationally-recognized jazz scene, of its reputation as a safe, upstanding, and family-oriented neighborhood, of his experiences as a customer and imbiber at the many excellent restaurants and bars, of the friendliness between ethnicities and races (of which Pittsburgh’s always had plenty of both) and of his sorrow, which equals your own, at what it’s come to lately.

    The answer may not be simple, but I think two phrases–“city planners,” and “government overreach”– can go a long way to explain the deterioration in circumstances and condition.

    • #7
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:05 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    She (View Comment):
    The answer may not be simple, but I think two phrases–“city planners,” and “government overreach”– can go a long way to explain the deterioration in circumstances and condition.

    It’s awful. Maybe a small improvement will come out of the much lower unemployment numbers. Society needs them engaged and working.

    • #8
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    There has long been a separation between black culture and black TV/film culture. For whatever reasons, there are black scriptwriters and directors consciously devoted to providing wholesome entertainment with ideal characters. It is similar to the movie idealism that was popular in the non-ethnic films of the 1940s and 1950s but since rejected.

    There are directors like Spike Lee who prefer the “gritty realism” devoted to grievances and pessimism. There are comics like Richard Pryor who mistake shock value for humor when not restrained by a director or a script. There were “blaxsploitation” flicks.

    But at least in my lifetime (1980s-), the norm seems to have been more like Tyler Perry morality plays, responsible TV fathers and devout TV mothers, blacks and whites getting along as neighbors with genuinely friendly jabs, and so on. Perhaps the BET-style insularity of black filmmakers helped free them of general trends.

    Aspirational entertainment needn’t be the only mode of fiction, but it is always a welcome one.

    The arts in general, not just television, and not just black ethnic arts. I detect that there has been for several decades a rejection of the idea of using the arts to inspire people toward an ideal in favor o the idea of using the arts to highlight the uglier aspects of reality. 

    • #9
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    Cultural appropriation?

    • #10
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:10 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    The arts in general, not just television, and not just black ethnic arts. I detect that there has been for several decades a rejection of the idea of using the arts to inspire people toward an ideal in favor o the idea of using the arts to highlight the uglier aspects of reality. 

    I can’t get my head around what in the world would be the benefit of showing ugliness, @fullsizetabby. Do they think they are teaching us a lesson? Enlightening us? Do they think we are blind to the ugliness? I reject their goals. There is a place for depicting the ugliness in the world, such as paintings of tragedy, wars and such. But otherwise, I vote for beauty. We need to be able to see that there is beauty, in spite of all the ugliness.

    • #11
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:10 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    Cultural appropriation?

    We’d just have to figure out which culture he represented!

    • #12
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. David Foster Member

    She (View Comment):
    The answer may not be simple, but I think two phrases–“city planners,” and “government overreach”– can go a long way to explain the deterioration in circumstances and condition.

    That’s certainly part of it. Another part: the governmental and “expert”-class hostility toward manufacturing, which resulted in the destruction of a lot of jobs with reasonable pay and upward mobility potential.

    • #13
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:14 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    David Foster (View Comment):
    That’s certainly part of it. Another part: the governmental and “expert”-class hostility toward manufacturing, which resulted in the destruction of a lot of jobs with reasonable pay and upward mobility potential.

    Thanks, @davidfoster. Once again, the elite carries out acts of destruction in the name of helping. I just wish they’d keep helping us so much. I wonder if there is a true shift in manufacturing being resurrected here and returned from foreign countries, and if so, how that will affect perceptions?

    • #14
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:17 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Full Size Tabby Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    The arts in general, not just television, and not just black ethnic arts. I detect that there has been for several decades a rejection of the idea of using the arts to inspire people toward an ideal in favor o the idea of using the arts to highlight the uglier aspects of reality.

    I can’t get my head around what in the world would be the benefit of showing ugliness, @fullsizetabby. Do they think they are teaching us a lesson? Enlightening us? Do they think we are blind to the ugliness? I reject their goals. There is a place for depicting the ugliness in the world, such as paintings of tragedy, wars and such. But otherwise, I vote for beauty. We need to be able to see that there is beauty, in spite of all the ugliness.

    My understanding (remember I am an engineer and a lawyer, not a psychologist nor an art critic, though I am pretty good at noticing patterns and trends) is that artists convinced themselves (or someone convinced them) that audiences who do not live in the depicted idealized environment could not “relate” to the art. Only if the artist showed the gritty reality in which the audience lived could the audience connect with the art. A variant of the idea is that art should reflect existing reality rather than inspire to a better reality. Though somehow “reflecting” reality seems to highlight more of the negatives than the positives.

    • #15
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:30 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

    • #16
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:31 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Gary McVey Contributor

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    That’s certainly part of it. Another part: the governmental and “expert”-class hostility toward manufacturing, which resulted in the destruction of a lot of jobs with reasonable pay and upward mobility potential.

    Thanks, @davidfoster. Once again, the elite carries out acts of destruction in the name of helping. I just wish they’d keep helping us so much. I wonder if there is a true shift in manufacturing being resurrected here and returned from foreign countries, and if so, how that will affect perceptions?

    I don’t know if I’d call it “elites” in the cultural sense we know it today. A situation I knew while growing up in NYC was the mass shutdown of manufacturing. This was decades before environmental regulations. The bosses wanted cheaper workers. and strong marketing brands found cheaper manufacturing overseas. In the industries I knew, New York used to make cameras, radios and TVs, and local workers were in no position to move to Japan to keep those jobs. It was far from only the Blacks who were affected. Blacks also had a unique “immigration” problem of their own–from the South. People used to jokingly refer to the Manhattan Greyhound station as “Ellis Island”. They started coming North in large numbers during the Depression and the flow never stopped until the Seventies. 

    The left always cries “racism!”. We conservatives always scream “government!” And both have truth to them. But some factors can’t be easily scapegoated, like “progress”. The South loved it when the northern textile mills shut down. They weren’t too thrilled 30 years later when the mills were replaced by cheaper overseas sources. 

    • #17
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:40 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Aaron Miller Member

    I think the modern cynicism in cinema was originally explained as showing realities that idealistic filmmakers tried to hide. That’s nonsense, of course. Leave It To Beaver was not some underhanded attempt to brainwash people. But one could reasonably prefer more stories like The Maltese Falcon and fewer like Mary Poppins

    Afterall, don’t many of us today tire of superhero stories? The grass is always greener on the other side. There is always hope that something different would be something better. 

    Later, there were arguments that audiences needed characters they could more closely identify with. Again, it’s not a claim wholly without truth. But the trend quickly became senseless. 

    There will always be markets for both idealistic stories and brutal stories. And those markets will always overlap.

    • #18
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. PHCheese Member

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    In the sixties I was invited to several salt and pepper parties in one of Pittsburgh’s most black neighborhoods. It was the furthest from my home and I had never been there before. I was surprised how prosperous it was. 25 years later I had the necessity to revisit the area. I was shocked how it had disintegrated. It was unrecognizable. The only business still operating was a bar out of dozens before. Drug sales were happening in the broad daylight on street corners. Broken down cars everywhere. Houses were either boarded up or falling down. I can’t explain it. There can’t be a simple answer.

    Hill District, much? (Short summary here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pittsburghs-hill-district-dream_b_1669867.) I don’t have direct experience with it myself, and by the time I went to university right next door (Duquesne) some years later, it was a place you wouldn’t want to be caught alone at night, but Mr. She speaks fondly of his attendance on the nationally-recognized jazz scene, of its reputation as a safe, upstanding, and family-oriented neighborhood, of his experiences as a customer and imbiber at the many excellent restaurants and bars, of the friendliness between ethnicities and races (of which Pittsburgh’s always had plenty of both) and of his sorrow, which equals your own, at what it’s come to lately.

    The answer may not be simple, but I think two phrases–“city planners,” and “government overreach”– can go a long way to explain the deterioration in circumstances and condition.

    The neighborhood I was referring to was Homewood. I was very familiar with the Hill. It had begun to deteriorate before Homewood because of the taking of property to build the Civic Arena. I visited the Crawford Grill and another place that I can’t name at the moment.

    • #19
    • December 1, 2019, at 1:44 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. OldPhil Coolidge

    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    Cultural appropriation?

    Back then it was just funny.

    • #20
    • December 1, 2019, at 2:02 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Samuel Block Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    I think the modern cynicism in cinema was originally explained as showing realities that idealistic filmmakers tried to hide. That’s nonsense, of course. Leave It To Beaver was not some underhanded attempt to brainwash people. But one could reasonably prefer more stories like The Maltese Falcon and fewer like Mary Poppins.

    Afterall, don’t many of us today tire of superhero stories? The grass is always greener on the other side. There is always hope that something different would be something better.

    Later, there were arguments that audiences needed characters they could more closely identify with. Again, it’s not a claim wholly without truth. But the trend quickly became senseless.

    There will always be markets for both idealistic stories and brutal stories. And those markets will always overlap.

    I think another part of it is the way popular art forms became more exclusively for the middle-class or above. People who came from working backgrounds tended to dominate these arenas, and they appreciated the way the overwhelmingly plebeian audience watched them; because they appreciated the people as they were. These artists understood the value of “termite art.”

    Modern “elites” don’t have the patience to immerse themselves in fine arts – this is the main reason they dismiss Western culture, the whiteness is a justification. Instead, they opt to elevate the popular arts by imbuing it with their unearned world-weariness.

    • #21
    • December 1, 2019, at 3:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Full Size Tabby Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

    The substance of the OP’s commentary on the state of the black family reminded me also of that book.

    • #22
    • December 1, 2019, at 4:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Cow Girl Thatcher

    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    My son and his buddy dressed up as Urkel for Halloween one year. Flood pants, suspenders, big glasses, the whole bit.

    Cultural appropriation?

    But NOT black-face I noticed! You didn’t need to do anything but wear the glasses, the flood pants and suspenders for everyone to know which TV star you were emulating!! Everyone knew Urkel! And it was okay to do it, too. No one was going to hassle you for that. We didn’t even watch TV then, but I knew who he was, and so did my kids.

    • #23
    • December 1, 2019, at 6:22 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Al Sparks Thatcher

    I wasn’t a regular television watcher when Family Matters ran. I did become aware of it when Steve Urkel became popular. It had a long 9 year run, but it’s rare for television shows, even long running ones, to not become forgotten like, say, The Andy Griffith Show was remembered.

    It essentially was a badly done Bill Cosby Show copycat. And of course Bill Cosby did untold damage to the legacy of that show when his personal behavior became widely known.

    That’s too bad, because I think the Bill Cosby Show was comparable in quality to Andy Griffith, and would have been remembered in the same light.

    • #24
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:21 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. Samuel Block Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    There has long been a separation between black culture and black TV/film culture. For whatever reasons, there are black scriptwriters and directors consciously devoted to providing wholesome entertainment with ideal characters. It is similar to the movie idealism that was popular in the non-ethnic films of the 1940s and 1950s but since rejected.

    There are directors like Spike Lee who prefer the “gritty realism” devoted to grievances and pessimism. There are comics like Richard Pryor who mistake shock value for humor when not restrained by a director or a script. There were “blaxsploitation” flicks.

    But at least in my lifetime (1980s-), the norm seems to have been more like Tyler Perry morality plays, responsible TV fathers and devout TV mothers, blacks and whites getting along as neighbors with genuinely friendly jabs, and so on. Perhaps the BET-style insularity of black filmmakers helped free them of general trends.

    Aspirational entertainment needn’t be the only mode of fiction, but it is always a welcome one.

    The arts in general, not just television, and not just black ethnic arts. I detect that there has been for several decades a rejection of the idea of using the arts to inspire people toward an ideal in favor o the idea of using the arts to highlight the uglier aspects of reality.

    I suppose the flip side of that is where we are now, with Woke entertainment disregarding unpleasant realities in favor of mainstreaming a very specific fantasy. 

    Though, in the modern case, I believe we are talking about a uniquely confused fantasy life.

    • #25
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:36 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    I wasn’t a regular television watcher when Family Matters ran. I did become aware of it when Steve Urkel became popular. It had a long 9 year run, but it’s rare for television shows, even long running ones, to not become forgotten like, say, The Andy Griffith Show was remembered.

    It essentially was a badly done Bill Cosby Show copycat. And of course Bill Cosby did untold damage to the legacy of that show when his personal behavior became widely known.

    That’s too bad, because I think the Bill Cosby Show was comparable in quality to Andy Griffith, and would have been remembered in the same light.

    “Family Matters” was “The Cosby Show” meets “Happy Days”, since two of its producers, Edward K Milkis and Thomas L. Miller were the executive producers (along with Garry Marshall) on the latter show, and Steve Urkel’s rise from secondary character to breakout star mirrored how The Fonz’s development turned his show into a No. 1 hit.

    Both shows were innocuous, and got more and more outlandish with their stories as the series went on in order to highlight their star phenomenon, which is in part why both under-performed in reruns. “Cosby” also under-performed in reruns, but for the opposite reason — “Family Matters” got broader and broader with its comedy as the series went on, but “Cosby” got tighter and tighter in the later seasons, as the star wanted to present a positive image of the black family. It never fell into the dark pit of dramedy like the final 3-4 seasons of “MASH”, but ran into the same sparseness of humor problem in its later years (Interestingly, the star never got called out on that — or his actions with women behind the scenes — until he started moralizing on black hip-hop culture and the overall disdain for educational achievement. Once Cosby did that, all the criticisms and allegations that had been bottled up for a quarter-century came pouring out, because he had lost his immunity card for challenging The Narrative).

    • #26
    • December 2, 2019, at 2:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. David Foster Member

    Re manufacturing in the US, see my 2010 post Faux Manufacturing Nostalgia. Note especially the fate of the GM-Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild (for kids), and the political hostility toward the Seattle towboat industry.

    American attitudes toward manufacturing have become more positive since this post was written, as have some relevant policies, but reversal could happen quickly depending on the results of the elections.

    • #27
    • December 2, 2019, at 7:05 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. David Foster Member

    Samuel Block (View Comment):
    Modern “elites” don’t have the patience to immerse themselves in fine arts – this is the main reason they dismiss Western culture, the whiteness is a justification.

    Tom Watson Jr, the longtime CEO of IBM, had a friend who had worked himself up to an executive position from a rough coal-mining background. When he asked the man how his did it, the guy said his self-improvement plan had had three cornerstones:

    –read the classics

    –listen to classical music

    –buy suits at Brooks Brothers

    What might the present-day equivalent look like?

    • #28
    • December 2, 2019, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):
    Modern “elites” don’t have the patience to immerse themselves in fine arts – this is the main reason they dismiss Western culture, the whiteness is a justification.

    Tom Watson Jr, the longtime CEO of IBM, had a friend who had worked himself up to an executive position from a rough coal-mining background. When he asked the man how his did it, the guy said his self-improvement plan had had three cornerstones:

    –read the classics

    –listen to classical music

    –buy suits at Brooks Brothers

    What might the present-day equivalent look like?

    Exactly the same.

    • #29
    • December 2, 2019, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. David Foster Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey (View Comment):

    When he asked the man how his did it, the guy said his self-improvement plan had had three cornerstones:

    –read the classics

    –listen to classical music

    –buy suits at Brooks Brothers

    What might the present-day equivalent look like?

    Exactly the same.

    Depends what one means by ‘self-improvement’…if the term refers to personal intellectual development, then yes, at least as far as the first 2 items go. If it refers to impressing people who need to be impressed in order to get promoted, then probably not so much.

    • #30
    • December 2, 2019, at 8:25 AM PST
    • 2 likes