shocking report on white families
Background: In 1965, Assistant Secretary
of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist by profession, published his
controversial and prescient report, “The
Negro Family: The Case for National
Action.” The report detailed how
the history of slavery, Jim Crow, poverty, and the massive movement of rural
blacks to cities had created severe social pathologies among American blacks,
most notably the marginalization of black men, the development of a matriarchal
culture, and a high rate of out-of-wedlock births and broken families.
Moynihan predicted that the pathologies
would worsen if not addressed and would have profound social, political and
Now a report details similar pathologies among white families of today, with similar social, political and economic repercussions.
Actually, it is the same report, the
Well, not exactly the same. To make it nearly the same, one just has to
substitute the outdated and politically-incorrect word “Negro” in the old
Moynihan report with the word “white.” By doing so, the report will then
describe the current situation among a growing number of white families (and
white or brown Hispanic families).
By some measures, the situation is even worse
today for white families than it was in 1965 for black families.
out-of-wedlock births. The rate of
such births is higher now for whites than it was in 1965 for blacks. It’s a
similar story for divorce rates and the incidence of single-mother families.
Moynihan wrote in 1965 that “... 21
percent of Negro women who have ever married are separated, divorced, or their
husbands are absent for other reasons.” Today,
by contrast, about a third of first marriages for white women end in divorce or
separation. For black women, the figure is 47%, or more than twice as high as
white family has achieved a high degree of stability and is maintaining that
stability,” said Moynihan. Unfortunately, the stability was short-lived.
In 1965, 25% of black families were
headed by a woman, versus about 12% for white families. Today,
nearly 70% of black kids and 25% of white kids are now raised by a
single-parent (or grandparent), typically a female.
As in Moynihan’s day, such children are
twice as likely to live in poverty and much more likely to drop out of school
and to have disciplinary and behavioral problems. Less directly noticeable are
the insidious effects on the male psyche and on the economic prospects for men.
In writing about the problems experienced
by males in a matriarchal culture, Moynihan said that there were really two
women in charge in many black families. He quoted another sociologist, Edward
the fact that relief investigators or case workers are normally women and deal
with the housewife. Already suffering a loss in prestige and authority in the
family because of his failure to be the chief bread winner, the male head of
the family feels deeply this obvious transfer of planning for the family's well
being to two women, one of them an outsider. His role is reduced to that of
errand boy to and from the relief office.
Left without a traditional societal role
and not having male role models, young men don’t do as well as females in
school and work. This was true in
Moynihan’s time, as he had observed, and it is true today, although you
wouldn’t know it from feminist rhetoric then and now. In Moynihan’s time, a
significantly higher percentage of black girls than black boys made the honor
role in school. Today, black and
white girls tend to outperform their male counterparts academically, including
having higher high school and college graduation rates.
Many of today’s young white men are the
stereotypical “losers,” the guys with backward caps, tattoos, few career
prospects, and little likelihood of finding an industrious, careerist woman to
marry. Such women would rather stay single than hitch their future and the
future of their children to a guy who is going nowhere.
It was no accident that of the blacks who
made it to the middle class in 1965, most were employed and married. Like
whites, they had fewer children than unmarried blacks, because they understood
that if they concentrated their resources in a smaller family, their offspring
would have a better chance of success.
Moynihan saw work as the salvation for
black males, a way to restore their self-worth and role in the family. He
lamented, though, that the average monthly unemployment rate for black males in
1964 was 9%. However, as he pointed out, that figure was misleading, because
some 29% of black males were unemployed at one time or another.
unemployment rate for black males is about 14%, depending on the source and how
the rate is calculated; but that increases to 26% for black men without a high
school degree. By contrast, the rate for white men is 7.4%, but that rises to
12.0% for white men without a high school degree.
unemployment rate for blacks between the ages of 16 and 24 is 28.6%, versus 14.9%
for whites in that age group.
summarize: Today, on average, white
families and white males have similar or worse pathologies than black families
and black males had in 1965 when Moynihan wrote his report. And a case can be
made that it is even more difficult for white men (and black men) of today to
be productive members of society and contributing husbands and fathers, given
that the welfare state has grown since 1965 and made men even less necessary,
important and valued.
The original Moynihan report was mostly ignored or vilified. My updated version will no doubt have the same fate.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.