The brilliant economist and political thinker (and Professor at George Mason University) Walter E. Williams has a new column up at CNS News discussing modern black America. Professor Williams is a conservative African-American who is often at odds with the liberal orthodoxy on the problems within the black community, and his latest commentary is no different. In his latest effort, Williams discusses the mythology that has arisen around the current problems in the black community – particularly fatherlessness, broken families and unemployment. Listen as Williams demolishes some commonly held liberal beliefs, such as today’s problems can be traced back to slavery.
“Hustlers and people with little understanding want us to believe that today’s black problems are the continuing result of a legacy of slavery, poverty and racial discrimination. The fact is that most of the social pathology seen in poor black neighborhoods is entirely new in black history. Let’s look at some of it.
Today the overwhelming majority of black children are raised in single female-headed families. As early as the 1880s, three-quarters of black families were two-parent. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black families were two-parent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children had the same mother and father.
Today’s black illegitimacy rate of nearly 75 percent is also entirely new. In 1940, black illegitimacy stood at 14 percent. It had risen to 25 percent by 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” and was widely condemned as a racist. By 1980, the black illegitimacy rate had more than doubled, to 56 percent, and it has been growing since. Both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.
Much of today’s pathology seen among many blacks is an outgrowth of the welfare state that has made self-destructive behavior less costly for the individual. Having children without the benefit of marriage is less burdensome if the mother receives housing subsidies, welfare payments and food stamps. Plus, the social stigma associated with unwed motherhood has vanished. Female-headed households, whether black or white, are a ticket for dependency and all of its associated problems. Ignored in all discussions is the fact that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994.”
Williams goes on to discuss similar problems when analyzing modern black unemployment rates and low earnings.
I was amazed by all of the FACTUAL information provided by Williams, which can be easily proved with just a little research. The numbers are staggering and the connection between the problems in the black community and the welfare state are so far more compelling that it seems almost laughable that liberals continue to blame slavery for these issues. The truth is staring them in the face and still they choose to ignore it.
I think I may have been most impressed with this statement, though.
“Ignored in all discussions is the fact that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994.”
The impact of this one statement should be immediately recognizable. The breakdown of the family may be the single most important factor in the current struggles of American blacks. Married black couples have a poverty rate the rivals married white Americans! The problem is that American blacks are far more likely to suffer from broken homes than the average white family. Couple these two facts and the obvious and easiest solution to many of the problems facing today’s black America is to make sure that couples marry and stay together! But of course, it’s just not that easy, is it?
What is ironic in all of this, as Williams points out, is that the welfare state incentivizes bad behavior, which leads to terrible results. Under the American welfare system a single mother “earns” more from the government than a married couple, and the more kids that single mother has… the more money she “earns.” It’s a vicious cycle and the liberal welfare warriors just keep making things worse.
Will black America ever notice? I sure hope so.
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