Causes of black poverty and inequality

Kevin L linked to an interesting article about problems in the black community. I have written about inequality more generally being the result more of habits and behaviors than larger factors. An interesting part of Kevin’s article is “The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities — for example, violence and predatory sex.”

Black families were not always in such bad state. Back 100 years ago, when racism was much more virulent, most black families were intact. Although out-of-wedlock births grew over time, intact families were still the norm until the 1960s.

I am certainly not saying that the civil rights movement taking place about that time is responsible. That movement was based on solid traditional American values, non-violence and the rule of law. What happened after was not so good. We got the black power movement and identity politics. Great leaders like Martin Luther King were replaced by lesser minds such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The opportunities created by the civil rights movement helped many blacks achieve something like the Americans dream and made most of the community better off. But the identity politics and dependency policies pursued by Democrats and Republicans alike (Richard Nixon was responsible for a vast expansion of affirmative action) pushed pathology down into those who did not succeed.

From the article - "According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation's homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

"To put this violence in perspective, black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (about 8,200) come to about 18,500, a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home."

For another comparison, there were 3445 blacks lynched in the U.S. between 1882 and 1968, according to figures complied by Tuskegee Institute.

What difference, at this point, does it make? When we see all the anger and fury associated with Ferguson - and know that most of it is aimed at the wrong target - we see that it matters a lot. Guys like Sharpton are advocating extending policies and behaviors that have largely caused the problems, or at least have done nothing to alleviate them in the past fifty years. The first thing you need to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.

I see these protestors on the news. They are trying to relive the nobility of the civil rights movement, but it is a farce. We have to call it what it is. The protestors loudly and correctly complain that lots of young black men are being murdered. 279,384 is a terrible number. It is much bigger than the total Americans or all races killed in Vietnam or in World War I. But they the elide into the error that this is caused by white racism and the police.

The immense number of blacks being murdered is a national disgrace. But we will be unable to address the situation if we set out to solve the wrong problem. The things that looked like they might work in 1970 have dimmed in the light of experience.

They say the root of the problem is racism and they are right. But the roots are less concern to us now than the fruits. Racism is responsible for some of the attitudes that keep many blacks down. But it is mostly historic racism now internalized. Consider Michael Brown's thuggish behavior. It is not his "fault" that he acted as he did, if we consider the years of racism that created those attitudes but it was his problem in that it most affected him and he was the one most in a position to change. There is also new racism, the soft bigotry of low expectation and the grievance industry. Consider Brown again. There were lots of excuses made for him. Sharpton gets up on his hind legs and promised "justice". This kid becomes a hero. For what? Should acting stupid and aggressively in ways that endanger yourself and others make you a hero?

So this is the basis of an honest discussion. Non-blacks (I don't say whites, since Asians are now put in the group privileged enough to be targeted by affirmative action) need to recognize that blacks' unique experience may require some remedial measures. Blacks need to recongize that most problems are not the result of current discrimination or racism and that the community needs remedial measures beyond special goals or set asides. All sides need to stop complaining about the others and get on task to work harder, smarter and better.

Posted by Christine & John at December 1, 2014 10:26 AM
Comment #386311

IMO the causes of black poverty and inequality are Democrats.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at December 4, 2014 12:23 PM
Comment #386314

IMO the causes of black poverty and inequality are Republicans.

Posted by: Warren Porter at December 4, 2014 5:47 PM
Comment #386319

Both of you are wrong. The cause of inequality is difference in habits and behaviors.

Posted by: C&J at December 4, 2014 7:49 PM
Comment #386320

I agree with that Jack, but I think Democrats more so than Republicans have capitalized on that behavior and habits.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at December 4, 2014 8:44 PM
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