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.


socialitedreams said...

very awesome piece, had to forward it along. great work and it's amazing how aa's will bleat and howl racism at things that are trying to HELP them and change nothing for the better then are shocked that we are in such dire straights. ugh

Southland Diva said...

Thank you, thank you for stopping by and for forwarding the post!! :-)

I find it ironic how civil right mis-leaders at the time vilified the report, yet not even ten years later the predictions made in the report began to manifest. Now here we are forty years later and the 'tangle of pathology' is choking the life out of black underclass and its tendrils are creeping into the black middle class.


Global Black Women said...

Wow great info!!! Thanks!!!

Southland Diva said...

You are most welcome, thanks for stopping by!!