by Dean Kalahar
The American Thinker
Race in America is set against the backdrop of horrible historic realities, minefields few want to cross — just ask Representative Paul Ryan. But if we are ever to focus on children who, for no fault of their own, are often raised in environments where a stable father is missing, violence is predictable, education is eschewed, drugs are prevalent and dependency threatens freedom; we must stand up and speak facts before another generation of children are lost.
Racism is the normal explanation for the decline of the black family, but that analysis does not hold up. Thomas Sowell has shown that “the black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow where most black children grew up in homes with two parents.” In fact, “when blacks were just one generation out of slavery, the census data of that era showed that slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than had white adults.” One would be hard pressed to believe that race issues in America are bigger today they were in the past.
Still others look to socioeconomic discrepancies for difficulties within the black family. Again Sowell’s research shows that “the particular culture or ‘human capital’ available to a people has often had more influence on their economic level than their existing material wealth, natural resources, or individual geniuses.” Even factoring for economic differences and severe social disadvantages, examples of a vibrant black family institution in America’s are too numerous to ignore.
• In the 1890s, there were four public high schools in Washington D.C.; one black, the M Street School/Dunbar High School, and three white. In 1899, Dunbar averaged higher standardized test scores than students in two of the three white schools. From 1870 to 1955 Dunbar repeatedly equaled or exceeding performance on national standardized tests.
• As late as 1910 more than two-thirds of the black population of Chicago lived in neighborhoods where most residents were white.
• In 1950, 72 percent of all black men and 81 percent of black women had been married.
• Every census from 1890 to 1950 showed that black labor force participation rates were higher than those of whites.
• Prior to the 1960’s the unemployment rate for black 16 and 17-year olds was under 10 percent.
• Before 1960, the number of teenage pregnancies had been decreasing; both poverty and dependency were declining, and black income was rising in both absolute and relative terms to white income.
• In 1965, 76.4 percent of black children were born to married women.
So what changed the equation?
By the 1960s, American society was riddled with generations of “white guilt.” In reaction and repentance sparked by Dr. King’s nonviolent civil disobedience and the systemic introspection of social norms by whites, Americans overcompensated with sweeping entitlement programs under President Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” and by turning a blind eye to accountability on longstanding values and principled behavior within the African American community. While affirmative action and desegregation jump-started social change, the unintended consequences of shifting the cultural incentives upside down were ignored.
This caused what Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called “defining deviancy downward.” And with Civil Rights Act of 1964 giving legal credence to making any sort of behavioral judgment toxic, the cultural glue that held together the African-American family was fundamentally changed.
This destabilization has created turbulent neighborhoods that have devastating costs to children ranging from poverty, educational deficiencies, violence, crime, drugs, and a culture of victimization and entitlement.
Basic developmental psychology tells us that boys and girls growing up without fathers and stable homes are overwhelmingly more likely to lack self-discipline and personal responsibility than children growing up with married parents. The economic, emotional, and spiritual guidance that two parent families provide are the cornerstones of effective family institutions. Without that stability, institutional collapse is eminent.
SOURCE: The American Thinker