Airing the "family's" dirty laundry in public can qualify one
for less-than-flattering descriptions. That's particularly applicable to a
black person, and even more so when he questions the civil rights gospel
that the problems black people encounter are rooted in racial discrimination
and a legacy of slavery.
To argue that most of the problems black people confront today
have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination risks being labeled
everything but a child of God, not to mention accusations of having "sold
out" and "letting white people off the hook." One need not deny the
existence of racial discrimination to ask the policy-relevant question: How
much of what we see can be explained by discrimination?
The black illegitimacy rate is close to 70 percent. Less than 40
percent of black children live in two-parent families. This produces
devastating socioeconomic consequences, but is it caused by racial
discrimination? Or, might it be a legacy of slavery? In the early 1900s,
black illegitimacy was a tiny fraction of today's rate. Roughly 75 percent,
and in New York City 85 percent, of black children lived in two-parent
households. The fact of lower illegitimacy and more intact families, at a
time when blacks were much closer to slavery and faced greater
discrimination, suggests that today's unprecedented illegitimacy and weak
family structure has nothing to do with discrimination and slavery. It's
explained better by promiscuity and irresponsibility, and as such it's not a
civil rights problem.
To point out that black people are the primary victims of
violent crimes is OK. Some of the statistics are staggering. FBI reports on
arrest data show that blacks committed half of all homicides, nearly half of
rapes, 59 percent of robberies and 38 percent of aggravated assaults.
Suggestions about causes and solutions can get you into to trouble.
It's clear sailing if you argue that the high crime rate is
caused by poverty and discrimination, and the way to get rid of crime is to
eliminate these root causes. But there's a problem with that theory. It
doesn't explain why black communities were far safer in earlier times, such
as in the '20s, '30s and '40s, at a time of far greater poverty and
discrimination, and fewer opportunities. Crime imposes devastating economic
and personal costs on many black neighborhoods, but it's not a civil rights
problem. The high crime rate represents political choices made by black
politicians, civil rights organizations and many black citizens to tolerate
Another family secret is that black academic achievement is a
national disgrace. Many youngsters who manage to complete high school do so
not being able to perform at the eighth- and ninth-grade levels. Standards
that others have to meet for employment or college admittance which many
blacks cannot meet are labeled racist. Demands are made to lower standards
using face-saving euphemisms such as affirmative action, diversity and
The standard civil rights vision of the solution to these
problems for blacks is to vote more Democrats into federal, state and local
offices, and to elect more blacks to city mayorships and city councils. That
theory suggests that cities run by Democrats and black politicians must be
the very cities where illegitimacy and violent crimes are the lowest and
black academic achievement is the highest -- cities such as Washington,
D.C., Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark and East St. Louis. In these cities,
blacks hold mayorships and have representation on city councils. That's a
nice theory, but the result is the exact opposite.
In medicine, misdiagnosis leading to mistreatment and further
injury can lead to malpractice suits. Unfortunately, in politics,
misdiagnosis, mistreatment and further injury lead to re-election.