You are probably aware that the national
black unemployment rate is 14.4% for blacks who are looking for work. Worse,
it is 20% or more in several cities, and nearly 40% for black teens.
These rates exclude the large number of
blacks in prison. The incarceration rate for black males between the ages of
20 and 34 is a whopping one in nine, or 11%. The rate for black women is
better but not good: one in 100, versus one in 355 for white women.
The litany of other social pathologies is
too depressing to cite in detail: low test scores, a high percentage of school
dropouts, and a high incidence of behavioral problems in schools--all of which
result in never-ending calls for more social spending and education funding, in
never-ending speeches by politicians about racial justice, in never-ending
lawsuits over claims of discrimination and racism, and in such never-ending
Band-Aids as affirmative action, preferences and set-asides.
This clamor is never-ending because the
root problem is never addressed.
Amazingly, the U.S. Department of labor
has spoken the truth about the root problem:
The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the [black] family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated.
Actually, this was not written today; nor
could it be written today, given the current politics surrounding the problem.
It was written in 1965, when 24% of black births were out-of-wedlock, versus
3.1% for whites.
Although the out-of-wedlock rate today is
72% for blacks and nearly 30% for whites, the federal government has stopped
speaking in such direct, unvarnished language. The numbers have grown so much
that no one dares to offend such a large political constituency of single
parents. Similarly, the media and other businesses don’t want to offend so
The tipping point was passed long ago.
As you may have surmised, the above truth
was written by a Labor Dept. sociologist and Democrat Party stalwart, Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, who would go on to be an advisor to Lyndon Johnson, among
other political endeavors. His report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National
Action,” caused a great stir among the nation’s intelligentsia and political
class. Volumes have been written about it since, and much of it has been
blather by those with a vested interest or ideological bent in pooh-poohing the
report’s findings and conclusions. Like most controversial subjects, most
Americans have read the blather instead of reading the source document for
themselves and drawing their own conclusions.
To avoid adding to the blather, I offer
the following excerpts from the report for your perusal. They are from Chapter
IV: “The Tangle of Pathology. “ The full report can be found athttp://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm
You will no doubt be struck when reading the excerpts by how prescient Moynihan was and by how much he was ignored. Clearly, the trillions of dollars spent on social-welfare programs since the War on Poverty and Great Society have failed to ameliorate the problem. Only a lunatic or ideologue or sadist or racist would recommend the infliction of more of the same pathologies on blacks--and, increasingly, on whites.
In essence, the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which, because it is to out of line with the rest of the American society, seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a crushing burden on the Negro male and, in consequence, on a great many Negro women as well.
The matriarchal pattern of so many Negro families reinforces itself over the generations. This process begins with education. Although the gap appears to be closing at the moment, for a long while, Negro females were better educated than Negro males, and this remains true today for the Negro population as a whole.
The disparity in educational attainment of male and female youth 16 to 21 who were out of school in February 1963, is striking. Among the nonwhite males, 66.3 percent were not high school graduates, compared with 55.0 percent of the females. A similar difference existed at the college level, with 4.5 percent of the males having completed 1 to 3 years of college compared with 7.3 percent of the females.
Robin M. Williams, Jr. in a study of Elmira, New York [writes]:
"Only 57 percent of Negro adults reported themselves as married-spouse present, as compared with 78 percent of native white American gentiles, 91 percent of Italian-American, and 96 percent of Jewish informants. Of the 93 unmarried Negro youths interviewed, 22 percent did not have their mother living in the home with them, and 42 percent reported that their father was not living in their home. One third of the youth did not know their father's present occupation, and two-thirds of a sample of 150 Negro adults did not know what the occupation of their father's father had been. Forty percent of the youths said that they had brothers and sisters living in other communities: another 40 percent reported relatives living in their home who were not parents, siblings, or grandparent [s]."
Williams' account of Negro youth growing up with little knowledge of their fathers, less of their fathers' occupations, still less of family occupational traditions, is in sharp contrast to the experience of the white child. The white family, despite many variants, remains a powerful agency not only for transmitting property from one generation to the next, but also for transmitting no less valuable contracts with the world of education and work. In an earlier age, the Carpenters, Wainwrights, Weavers, Mercers, Farmers, Smiths acquired their names as well as their trades from their fathers and grandfathers. Children today still learn the patterns of work from their fathers even though they may no longer go into the same jobs.
White children without fathers at least perceive all about them the pattern of men working. [One wonders if this is still true.]
Negro children without fathers flounder — and fail.
A prime index of the disadvantage of Negro youth in the United States is their consistently poor performance on the mental tests that are a standard means of measuring ability and performance in the present generation.
There is absolutely no question of any genetic differential: Intelligence potential is distributed among Negro infants in the same proportion as among Icelanders or Chinese or any other group. American society, however, impairs the Negro potential. The statement of the HARYOU report that "there is no basic disagreement over the fact that central Harlem students are performing poorly in school" may be taken as true of Negro slum children throughout the United States.
Eighth grade children in central Harlem have a median IQ of 87.7, which means that perhaps a third of the children are scoring at levels perilously near to those of retardation. IQ declines in the first decade of life, rising only slightly thereafter.
In Chicago in 1963, three-quarters of the persons arrested for such crimes were Negro; in Detroit, the same proportions held.
In 1960, 37 percent of all persons in Federal and State prisons were Negro. In that year, 56 percent of the homicide and 57 percent of the assault offenders committed to State institutions were Negro.
The overwhelming number of offenses committed by Negroes are directed toward other Negroes: the cost of crime to the Negro community is a combination of that to the criminal and to the victim.
Mary Diggs found that three-fourths — twice the expected ratio — of Philadelphia's Negro delinquents who came before the law during 1948 did not live with both their natural parents.
In predicting juvenile crime, Eleanor and Sheldon Glueck also found that a higher proportion of delinquent than nondelinquent boys came from broken homes. They identified five critical factors in the home environment that made a difference in whether boys would become delinquents: discipline of boy by father, supervision of boy by mother, affection of father for boy, affection of mother for boy, and cohesiveness of family.
The unemployment statistics for Negro teenagers — 29 percent in January 1965 — reflect lack of training and opportunity in the greatest measure, but it may not be doubted that they also reflect a certain failure of nerve. [To repeat, nearly 40% of black teens are unemployed today.]
"Are you looking for a job?" Secretary of Labor Wirtz asked a young man on a Harlem street corner. "Why?" was the reply.
Richard A. Cloward and Robert Ontell have commented on the withdrawal in a discussion of the Mobilization for Youth project on the lower East Side of New York.
"What contemporary slum and minority youth probably lack that similar children in earlier periods possessed is not motivation but some minimal sense of competence.
"We are plagued, in work with these youth, by what appears to be a low tolerance for frustration. They are not able to absorb setbacks. Minor irritants and rebuffs are magnified out of all proportion to reality. Perhaps they react as they do because they are not equal to the world that confronts them, and they know it. And it is the knowing that is devastating. Had the occupational structure remained intact, or had the education provided to them kept pace with occupational changes, the situation would be a different one. But it is not, and that is what we and they have to contend with."
The only religious movement that appears to have enlisted a considerable number of lower class Negro males in Northern cities of late is that of the Black Muslims: a movement based on total rejection of white society, even though it emulates whites more.
In a word: the tangle of pathology is tightening.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.