Family and Race

It’s hardly a new conclusion, but this, from a book review by Roger Clegg (subscription required), of Acting White by Stuart Buck, bears repeating:

Suppose your twelve-year-old son came home and announced that it would compromise his racial authenticity were he to study hard and get good grades, and that he will therefore concentrate on misbehaving in class. Or, more realistically, suppose you simply saw that he was balking at homework and getting poor grades, with or without an excuse. What would your reaction be? More to the point, what would the reaction of Dr. Cliff Huxtable be?
Dr. Huxtable would explain, with as much patience as he could muster, that not studying is unacceptable and that the “acting white” justification for not studying is idiotic nonsense: Even if your teacher is a white racist, son, you should not — will not — slack off. Such instinctive rebellion, even if understandable, is obviously irrational.
The problem is that Dr. Huxtable is nowhere to be found in most black households. The fact that, as Buck points out, the acting-white malady apparently affects boys more than girls further suggests that the absence of strong fathers is a big part of the problem.

Clegg concludes that “illegitimacy must bear much of the blame” for a variety of chronic problems that the black community faces. He’s correct to fault political correctness and the welfare state, but the dissolution of marriage, more generally, is a factor, as well. That is one aspect of what advocates of same-sex marriage fail to acknowledge when they make their assertions that changing the definition of marriage will harm no one.

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Ron
Ron
10 years ago

Wait, you’re trying to link one parent households to same-sex marriage? Really? Where is the evidence that it’s the lack of a specifically male parent (as opposed to the lack of a second person in general) that makes for misbehavior in children? If just having a man around was so important, you would think gay marriage would be ideal. After all, if one man is good, aren’t two better?

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

Justin,
Single parent African American households are a symptom of the slavery time when families were broken up, and has nothing to do with homos. You are really trying to grasp at straws now. Next year when gay marriage passes in RI are you going to give up on this issue?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Posted by Swazool:
Single parent African American households are a symptom of the slavery time when families were broken up.
Come on, why don’t we just go a little farther back and blame it on the multiple wives allowed in Africa?
That is all ridiculous! My ancestors painted themselves blue and lived in caves. I have central heat.
The question of absent fathers occurs to me frequently when I read of the rash of “drive by” shootings in Boston. I ask “where are the fathers?”. I wonder why every street corner does not have a couple of fathers with shotguns and baseball bats? This would be an understandable reaction. There are times when 911 just won’t do. And attentive fathers might just know who the troublemakers are.
I wouldn’t want to see vigilante justice, but my “system of justice” would understand this.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Ron,
What is the evidence that two is somehow a magic number for parents? From my reading on the subject, it appears to be the twin role models of male and female that are important. Unless you’re insisting that men and women are in every behavioral way interchangeable, which is frankly delusional. It’s having a man and a woman, preferably both with a biological bond with the child.
Moreover, the issue isn’t specifically “misbehavior,” but the poor socialization that precedes misbehavior and that fails to correct it when minor.
—-
Swazool,
Your statement of causation is anachronistic. The explosion of black illegitimacy came after the middle of the last century, not as a carry-over from earlier centuries.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Posted by Justin Katz:
“Swazool,
Your statement of causation is anachronistic. The explosion of black illegitimacy came after the middle of the last century, not as a carry-over from earlier centuries.”
Justin is correct, at least until the 1930’s black and white illegiotimacy rates were pretty much identical. Now, the black rate exceeds the white rate, but only slightly.

David P
David P
10 years ago

Anecdotal evidence indicates that the Black family was far stronger during Reconstruction than it is now. Stories are told of freed men roaming the South for weeks trying to find their wives and children that had been taken from them during slavery. Slavery couldn’t destroy the Black family; it took the Great Society to do that.

Sammy
Sammy
10 years ago

Folks like Rev Pat Robertson, Rev Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard and James Dobson and their fellow anti-gay rights, culture warriors will continue the fight as long as there is money to be made by fighting it. Losing a few battles may even help them to improve their cash flow. The faithful are at their MOST generous when they believe themselves to be a persecuted minority.

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

Justin and Warrington, you are both wrong, but that is besides the point of the original post that is about same sex marriage harming black families.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Anecdotal evidence indicates that the Black family was far stronger during Posted by David P:
Stories are told of freed men roaming the South for weeks trying to find their wives and children that had been taken from them during slavery. ”
There is probably something in this. Years ago, I had reason to review a lot of the older wills in my family. Mothers and children were frequently left as a unit with instructions that they not be “separated during their natural lives” (I think this was a stock phrase at the time). I don’t recall any reference to fathers.
Although “marriages” were permitted, I am of the impression that this was a “religious blessing” of a union and was not legally recognized. This would be right around the second “great awakening” and religion took a lot of odd turns.
Swazool, you would have to be more precise as to what Justin and I are wrong about. If you do not think that black illegitimacy rates were once much lower, I suggest that you do some research on the matter.
“In 1960, only 28 percent of black females between the ages of 15 and 44 were never married. Today, it’s 56 percent. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 19 percent, in 1960, 22 percent, and today, it’s 70 percent. Some argue that the state of the black family is the result of the legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty. That has to be nonsense. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families, comprised of two parents and children. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households had two parents.” I have tried to avoid “point of view” quotes.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

So here we have Swazool, caught in a lie, with his fingers in his ears yelling “La la la I can’t hear you.”
The destruction of traditional families in the black American population is a direct result of Johnson’s Great Society programs. I defy you to find a single legitimate study that places the cause in the 19th century.
The failure of single-parent households is not a racial phenomenon. It is widespread across racial lines.
The combination of broken homes, promiscuity such that children do not even know who their fathers are, dependence on government, and media culture that glorifies criminality and squalor, corrupt special-interests (such as Jackson and Sharpton) who perpetuate a false myth of victimhood and grievance for their own personal enrichment, and a Leftist-dominated public school system that celebrates this cultural rot as “authentic expression of ethnicity” leaves most of these kids without a chance. All encouraged by the Leftist worldview. Aren’t you proud of yourselves?
If you had the courage to sit down and read Ann Coulter’s book Guilty, you would have the clear facts.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

Great point, Faust. African Americans were definitely better off during reconstruction – when they couldn’t vote, were discriminated against omnipresently, and subject to state backed lynchings – than they are now. And I’m sure BobN’s post would have any young black reader yearning for the carefree mid 60’s, when their counterparts died in terrorist bombings while struggling for civil rights. Stupid liberals, always trying to level the playing field.

hellas
hellas
10 years ago

The desperation of the anti-SSM crowd has reached new heights (or depths). The comparison made in the above post makes about as much sense as blaming union political victories for the Red Sox missing the playoffs.
Blacks oppose SSM because they don’t have as many examples to take heart in as whites do – there aren’t many out black celebs, athletes, etc. Gay blacks don’t have the successful role models whites do. Once some come out, I think we’ll see the black community come around.

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

When someone suggests I read Anne Coulter, I suggest they watch Bill Maher.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

I have seen Maher. One key difference is that Coulter actually builds her arguments from a solid set of hard facts and doesn’t rely on snide, off-topic insult jokes. There is no substance in Bill Maher, although I suspect there are plenty of controlled substances in him.
So if that’s the deal, when can I expect to see your book report on “Guilty”?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Posted by Scott
“Great point, Faust. African Americans were definitely better off during reconstruction”
They may not have been better off, but they had each other.
I get real tired of people whose only experience is with TV renditions of urban blacks. Go some place in the deep south, let’s say Aliceville, AL. You will find blacks with businesses that have been in the family for 100 years, blacks with 200 acre farms (that will barely support you anymore so many work in the steel mills). In any case, these are stable people, their families are not falling apart. They are not anxious to give up what they know and head for the Bronx. Children without wedlock is still frowned upon, as are women who allow their rear ends to “switch”.

Triple richard
Triple richard
10 years ago

Anne Coulter uses facts but not snide remarks. Are you kidding me. And somwhat if maher used substances si did limbaugh and beck

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

Per Faust: “They may not have been better off, but they had each other.”
Actually they weren’t better off. No “maybe” about it. They were not better off.
Here’s the address of the most recent HHS study I could find on illegitimate childbirth in the US. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/misc/wedlock.pdf
It’s from ’95, so I’m sure there’s a more recent one out there, but it works for our discussion. It took me five minutes of divided attention (Skins hanging in v. Colts) to determine that the entire basis of your argument, that black people are more likely than whites to birth illegitimate children, is in fact false. Whites have more illegitimate kids. Their rate of illegitimacy is increasing faster than blacks across all sectors. And the dissolution-of-black-families stats you posted above are true for all races, as out of wedlock births have exploded in this country over the last century.
Five minutes, it took me to find this.
A section investigating the role of Welfare on the increase ends thusly: “In sum, the evidence linking welfare benefits with rising nonmarital fertility is not consistent and does not suggest
that welfare represents an important factor in recent increases in childbearing outside of marriage. A number of
other explanations for rising rates of nonmarital childbearing have also been explored.”
But everyone who knows enough to have lent their knowledge to these comments should probably take the time to peruse for themselves. Wouldn’t want to make blanket judgements about ENTIRE RACES OF AMERICANS without concrete facts for foundation.
Not the type of sociological fact finding field trip Faust would prefer, but it beats Law & Order SVU, which a bunch of you seem to base your racial judgements on.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Posted by Scott
“Not the type of sociological fact finding field trip Faust would prefer, but it beats Law & Order SVU, which a bunch of you seem to base your racial judgements on.”
I think I pointed out in an earlier post that white illegitimacy was exploding, and that black illegitimacy still outdistanced it.
I am not sure that I blame the illegitimacy on the “welfare state” entirely, but is did help spawn a culture which produced Murphy Brown.
One of my favorite Welfare State programs, from the 60’s, was the “BBA”. I don’t recall what that really stood for, but it was known as the “Boyfriend’s Beer Allowance”. Basically, if a man would agree to move in with a woman with illegitimate kids and provide a “father image”, he would be paid some small amount monthly.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

Certainly it is the nature of our democracy that ridiculous subsections be inserted into otherwise worthy bills. None of this stuff is perfect, but to suggest that the concept of a social safety net is meritless, or that said safety net has in fact led to further degredation of the society it’s meant to protect, is to let ideology shoulder aside logic.
No doubt these institutions can be abused and defrauded, as institutions have been throughout history. That doesn’t mean you give up on the institution, you just struggle to fix it.
Just cause people keep books past their due date is no reason to close all the libraries.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Scott, You should read your sources more closely. This part of your comment is downright misleading: Whites have more illegitimate kids. Their rate of illegitimacy is increasing faster than blacks across all sectors. Check the tables at the back of your source. The black illegitimacy rate is many times that of whites, which also affects rate of increase. Unfortunately, the data for blacks only goes back to ’69, which doesn’t make the general thesis testable by this data. I’d suggest, though, that the real culprit is poverty, which affects racial differences in a detrimental cycle. (I’d also add that this data doesn’t take into account higher rates of abortions among minorities. It’s also misleading to behave as if the report offers a conclusive verdict on the effects of welfare. The essay on that topic notes that it’s difficult to say, with studies coming to widely varying conclusions. It may not be the case that women are having babies specifically for the purpose of receiving payments, in large numbers, but that’s not really the argument being made, here. Rather, the increasing role of government in caring for citizens takes the onus off people to live in ways that ensure that others are around to care for them. That’s why illegitimacy is higher in nations with broader social safety nets. That factor and attitudes toward sex and family have played off each other, harming most of all those with the fewest advantages, which correlates more strongly with blacks. My argument with respect to same-sex marriage is that it codifies the deterioration of marriage into the law, making the institution useless in attempts to control demographic problems like illegitimacy. Your source does, however, prove useful in casting doubt on the suggestion that slavery was the cause of differing rates of illegitimacy, inasmuch as… Read more »

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Justin, I must take exception to one point in your last post: “I’d suggest, though, that the real culprit is poverty…”
Poverty is not the cause. The government subsidization of child-bearing by poor women is the real issue. If these women knew that they would suffer adverse consequences for which they would be personally responsible, they would behave differently. Note that this is not a racial comment; it applies to all who have come to believe that dependence on a government check is an acceptable way to live.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

BobN-why even mention it’s not a racial remark?I’m sick of seeing the resident leftists here like sammy,OTL,and Phil always trying to insinuate the conservatives here have racist motivations.Who are they to demand explanations?

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Just pre-empting them, Joe.
As to your question: It is typical of Leftists to make demands of everyone else while they make excuses for themselves and their political allies.

swazool
swazool
10 years ago

So Justin, if marriage has been in decline and child birth out of wedlock has been increasing, and this has all been happening even before SSM, then when SSM is legal there will be no effect since there is already a trend? You have just made the point then that SSM has no effect on hetero marriage.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

“I’d suggest, though, that the real culprit is poverty, which affects racial differences in a detrimental cycle.” The rate of American blacks in poverty is more than twice that of whites. And though the black illegitimacy rates are much higher than whites, the total number of white illegitimate births dwarves that of blacks. So it’s not just a poor people problem. You make a point illuminated in the conclusion I posted above from the discussion of the effect of welfare on illegitimacy rates “In sum, the evidence linking welfare benefits with rising nonmarital fertility is not consistent…” The report is inclonclusive, yet you seem so sure. It’s impossible to make broad conclusions about society from data, statistics, movies, TV, or even languid drives through the countryside; but we all see what we see and make up our own minds. You see the nanny state enabling (or even causing) a culture of slovenly overfertility. I see a sometimes clumsy, but generally right-headed effort to bring a historically handicapped population into the fold. Couple other things: Japan, with it’s bright red health care for all, has the lowest rate of illegitamacy. Next lowest is Italy, whose safety net is so broad, and male population so lazy they once considered offering tax breaks to men over thirty to move out of their parents’ homes. So I’m not sure how you say “illegitimacy is higher in nations with broader social safety nets.” Could be that other factors, uncountably numerous ones, effect such things. Could be that behavior of people worldwide is not predicated solely on how much money they do or don’t get from the gubment. But your way is definitely simpler. Anyway, tell me again how allowing gay people the same rights as every other American (the rights guaranteed them legally by the… Read more »

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Scott writes:
“but to suggest that the concept of a social safety net is meritless, or that said safety net has in fact led to further degredation of the society it’s meant to protect, is to let ideology shoulder aside logic.”
Your post suggests that a “social safety net” is non-ideological and based on logic. I would suggest that most “social safety nets” are the product of an ideology, it is therefore reasonable that over time they will be “shouldered aside” by a succeeding ideology. I would also suggest that although logic may be allowed to intrude, that allowance is selective. I cannot believe that logic is allowed to operate without let or hindrance.

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