This problem is exacerbated by the eroding family structure in black America and the corresponding increase in violent crime. The statistics are frightening: Young black males, who constitute less than 3 percent of the total population, are responsible for half of this country's violent crime. According to Justice Department statistics, in 1992, the violent crime rate for black males was nearly 10 times the average for white males the same age. Violence is also eroding the black family. Forty-five percent of all spousal homicides in this country are attributed to blacks, despite the fact that they represent only 13 percent of the population. One national study (Hampton, R.L., Gelles, R.J., and Harrop, J.W. 1989. "Is Violence Increasing?" A comparison of 1975 and 1985 national survey rates. J. Marriage Family 51: 969-980.) reported that "severe parent-to-child violence was 114 percent greater in black families than in white families. At the same time, out of wedlock births for black Americans has increased nearly sixfold over the last 35 years. As the nuclear family disintegrates, so do our communities. As author and political science professor, James Clark observed, "as the 20th century comes to a close, more black males will be incarcerated in prison than go to college."
There are many reasons for these self-inflicted wounds - deteriorating family values, the failure of government housing programs, overcrowding in poor urban centers, under-funded public schools and an inner-city subculture that glorifies violence and misogyny and derides conventional family values. One thing is clear, though, this must change if we are to achieve Dr. King's dream of equality.
That means pushing civil rights issues into the mainstream. It also means bettering ourselves by eschewing racial quotas or other policies that encourage minorities to embrace victim status.
We don't need more entitlement programs that dispense money to the underprivileged like some government-subsidized tranquilizer. We need to confront the real problems threatening our communities. We will achieve Dr. King's dream not with quotas and affirmative action, but with the determination to face those social conditions that truly underlie inequality - eroding family life, disintegration of moral character and the devaluation of human life.