Saturday, October 23, 2010

Location, Location, Location

The Moynihan Report

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an assistant labor secretary published The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (commonly referred to as the Moynihan Report), to formulate policy for the Johnson Administration’s ‘War on Poverty’. Though the report ( cited slavery, reconstruction, centuries of mistreatment, low wages, and unemployment, as factors for persistent poverty in the black community, the primary cause cited was the number of divorced, separated, disserted mothers raising children as the sole parent, as well as the rising rate of out-of-wedlock (oow) birth in the black community.

Further, the report stated the black underclass was neither ready nor capable of competing in the newly integrated society because of the systemic/savage inequities of the past. What is more disturbing is the report predicted this pattern would persist and increase due to lack of familial/social infrastructure attained through healthy, functioning families. The report prescribed a solution: government must provide access to meaningful employment for black men in order to halt the progressive deterioration of the black family.

Predictably the publication of the report unleashed a storm of controversy. Critics viewed the report as an attack on the very people it was supposed to help as it conflated poverty with black culture. Some civil rights leaders condemned the report as racist. 

Past: Tangle of Pathology

The press focused on what they knew would be the most sensational or inflammatory aspect of the report, the decline of the nuclear family structure in the black community. The Moynihan report listed the increasing rate of out-of-wedlock births among African American women as a major cause/concern with regard to poverty. Civil rights leaders responded defensively to what they felt were negative assertions and defamations of character with regard to black men specifically and the black community in general, without a similar understanding of the active role slavery/Jim Crow, and discrimination played and continued to play in the oppression of black men.

Moynihan’s report presaged the ‘tangle of pathology’ would tighten in the black community unless the government intervened. The black underclass did not need overt, systemic racism to continue the downward spiral; it did not need racism and discrimination to perpetuate poverty within the black community. It was doing a perfectly respectable job on its own.

In other words, there was no need for ‘The Man’ to do anything to the black underclass; it was on track to destroy itself.

Current: Culture of Poverty

Forty years later the Moynihan Report continues to resound. Out-of-wedlock births were at 72 % of births for AA women in 2006. Over 41% of AA women have not been married by the age of 35, based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted in 2002*. Single female headed households are the new norm, not the exception.

Men need their father to validate their masculinity. They require their father or a close male relative to demonstrate positive male behavior and to check negative behavior and poor impulse control issues that arise for young men and boys. If validation through a (positive) father-figure is unavailable, men may turn to sex or money as a way to prove their masculinity.

Absent fathers create a vacuum that warps the fabric of community.

It creates communities where women are seen as providers, protectors, and workhorses and where young girls are groomed to become their replacements.

It creates communities where young boys grow accustomed to seeing men who do not work to support and provide for the family

It creates communities where young men grow up watching men treat women as commodities. The message transmitted to young men is: women exist to be consumed and are easily replaced. Not surprisingly these young men and boys grow up to become consumers of women rather than husbands and partners; far too many become predators.

It is no surprise then black neighborhoods, be the urban inner-city, suburban or rural, have become or are becoming toxic to the point they are life-threatening. The cycle of poverty is a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating prophecy for many in the black underclass.

Future: Moving on Up

Economically, single parent households are at a disadvantage in their ability to attain middle class status. Raising a child in moderately acceptable conditions (relatively safe neighborhood, decent schools, etc.) takes a certain amount of economic wherewithal. If the custodial parent did not attain at least a Bachelor Degree, the road out of the working class/underclass is that much harder.

Harder, but not impossible!

Ideally this path would be avoided at all costs. A single person without children is much more capable of struggling, striving and attaining a middle class status; either through education and chosen profession alone or the combination of marrying well and education/profession.

In the event a woman is a single mother, the task that must be undertaken is straightforward: remove yourself and your child(ren) from the toxic neighborhoods. Remaining in a toxic enclave will expose your child to the damaging cultural values, mores and beliefs that will severely limit their future prospects.

Your child will grow up thinking its natural to see garbage in the streets and homes in disrepair.

Your child will think hearing gun shots next door or across the street as unremarkable.

Your child will not realize the urban war zone they live in is not normal condition of everyday life for most people in the United States.

Your male child will believe laws were put in place by ‘The Man’ to keep ‘The Black Man’ down.

Your female child will be told it is her duty to ‘soldier’ for the black community; to protect, fight, and preserve dysfunctional communities without ever addressing the dysfunction.

Your child will learn to devalue education and intelligence as ‘acting white’ and not what ‘real’ black people do.

Your child will normalize chaos and disorder

Your child will be restricted to this cycle of poverty for the rest of their lives and the lives of their children.

Scholars and media pundits are beginning to ‘say what they see’. They know the black underclass is becoming/has become the permanent underclass, especially with the change in the economic fortunes of this country. The desire of politicians and government bureaucrats to render aid and assistance to the underclass is vanishing or gone.

The writing in on the walls, time is up! Get your strategy together! Move!


* Information taken from reports published by the Center for Disease Control.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Predators: At Home and Abroad

The Ghetto
At sixty years old, a woman shouldn’t have to use a firearm in an attempt to ‘scare off’ a 12 year old boy at 11:pm at night.

Walking from home to the bus stop or from a place of employment to the parking lot should not be a gauntlet of catcalls, insulting remarks and dehumanizing behavior directed at a woman just because she is a woman.

Young girls shouldn’t have to put on extra weight or layers of extra clothes to hide her body so as not to illicit comment from grown men.

A college student shouldn’t have been shot and killed because some man was not allowed admittance a party he wasn’t invited to attend.

A mother shouldn’t have to bury her baby because her ‘baby daddy’ killed the child.

This is every day life in the toxic, terror-filled neighborhoods where young men and boys and sometimes young girls/women, run amok. This is life where rules are breaking down. Where there is no respect of/protection for the lives of women and girls.

The Congo*
Civilians are subject to extortion, brutality, and death from ‘armed combatants’.

Children are kidnapped and forced to become killers ‘soldiers’ for these armed forces.

Women sleep in the dense bush of the country-side because they are afraid they will be attacked when return home.

Rape of women and girls is a tool of ‘war’. The women have no protection and are routinely horrifically brutalized.

This is life where there is no rule of law. No effective system of governance. No law enforcement tasked with protecting civilians.  

The Point
What is the connection you ask? The permanent black underclass developing in this country. This underclass is not alarmist fiction to be dismissed out of hand. Issues of class are easily discerned for those who bother to notice. There are real structural problems within the black community and the heavy lifting has been left to women. Women cannot teach men how to be men. Women are women.

Women can teach girls how to become women, ladies, who command respect, love and protection. This work women can do. This is the work BWE bloggers, in their varying facets, are doing. For example: ‘No Wedding, No Womb’.

What I understand from the campaign, Mrs. Karazin’s desire is for women and girls to start making smarter better choices in the men the have children with. Mrs. Kazarin believes marriage is the preferred environment for childrearing. The response to the campaign is an indicator of divergence of perceptions with regard to what ails the black community, specifically in regard to out-of-wedlock births. I read a sampling of the posts. Some most were supportive, some were not. While some few of the anti-NWNW posters provided lucid, rational disagreements with a facet or two of the campaign, most (if I remember correctly) understood the impetus.

However, some posters/commenters seemed to defend the rate of out-of-wedlock births; seemed to feel as though the campaign was merely an attempt to punish, shame, or deny women the ‘right’ to have a child. Still others felt the campaign was an attack on black men?!?! Why, one blogger asked, aren’t women being held responsible for out-of-wedlock births? Why don’t women control themselves? It takes two to tango.

Well, which is it already!!! Black women are belittled for being too picky and black women are demeaned as being out-of-control baby making machines (please read: over-sexed, licentious garden implements). Clearly, in this context, black women have been set up to fail and to be blamed, berated, and dehumanized because masses of black women can’t rise above the situation. These same people who say the want to help have a vested interest in these women staying where they are: in dangerous neighborhoods; without protection; without decent opportunities for education, employment, and marriage (long term committed relationship) which offer the chance to lift themselves out of the battlefields they call home.

The point is toxic neighborhoods, be they urban or rural, are the precursor to what the Congo has become, a nation of lawless and immoral bandits who don’t want to govern, don’t want freedom, don’t want to build a future; they are content to destroy in the pursuit of money and the illusion of personal power through brutality. The Congo is what happens when criminals take over.

The Congo is the distant early warning of what can happen in certain neighborhoods/cities in this country within the permanent black underclass.


*H/T to Gina at for the link to the Financial Times piece ‘Africa’s Forever Wars’.