Enduring Crisis for the Black Family: Why Marriage Education funding must continue - 12/05/08
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Sat Dec 6 13:08:37 EST 2008
- ENDURING CRISIS FOR THE BLACK FAMILY
Send this article to your elected officials when you contact them to explain
why the Marriage Education funding must continue. - diane
An Enduring Crisis for the Black Family
By Kay Hymowitz
Saturday, December 6, 2008
> the institution of marriage appears to promote ideals of stability, order and
> fidelity that benefit children and adults alike. Those who pin their hopes for
> black progress on education tend to forget this. Numerous studies, when
> controlled for income and race, show that, on average, children growing up
> with single mothers are less likely to graduate from high school and go to
> college. And Moynihan's discovery of a negligible relationship between
> "economic conditions and social conditions" suggests that even increases in
> black male employment are not a certain cure.
In the nearly half-century in which we have gone from George Wallace to
Barack Obama, America has another, less hopeful story to tell about racial
progress, one that may be even harder to reverse.
In 1965, a young assistant secretary of labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan
stumbled upon data that showed a rise in the number of black single mothers.
As Moynihan wrote in a now-famous report for the Johnson administration,
especially troubling was that the growth in illegitimacy, as it was
universally called then, coincided with a decline in black male
unemployment. Strangely, black men were joining the labor force more, but
they were marrying -- and fathering -- less.
There were other puzzling facts. In 1950, at the height of the Jim Crow era
and despite the shattering legacy of slavery, the great majority of black
children -- an estimated 85 percent -- were born to their two married
parents. Just 15 years later, there seemed to be no obvious reason that that
would change. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights
Act, legal barriers to equality were falling. The black middle class had
grown substantially, and the first five years of the 1960s had produced 7
million new jobs. Yet 24 percent of black mothers were then bypassing
marriage. Moynihan wrote later that he, like everyone else in the policy
business, had assumed that "economic conditions determine social
conditions." Now it seemed, "what everyone knew was evidently not so."
President Lyndon Johnson was deeply shaken by Moynihan's findings. Neither
man was driven by sentimentality or religious conviction, but both believed
that fatherlessness undermined the "basic socializing unit." Intent on
sounding a public alarm, Johnson declared during a commencement address at
Howard University: "When the family collapses, it is the children that are
usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale, the community itself is
Unfortunately, those warnings were as prescient as they were reviled. Civil
rights leaders, worried about reviving racist myths about black promiscuity,
objected to what they viewed as blaming the victim. Feminists were inclined
to look on the "strong black women" raising their children without men as a
symbol of female autonomy. By the fall of 1965, when a White House
conference on the black family was scheduled, the Moynihan report and the
subject had disappeared.
But the silent treatment was the wrong medicine. Since 1965, through
economic recessions and booms, the black family has unraveled in ways that
have little parallel in human cultures. By 1980, black fatherlessness had
doubled; 56 percent of black births were to single mothers. In inner-city
neighborhoods, the number was closer to 66 percent. By the 1990s, even as
the overall fertility of American women, including African Americans, was
falling, the majority of black women who did bear children were unmarried.
Today, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. In some
neighborhoods, two-parent families have vanished. In parts of Newark and
Philadelphia, for example, it is common to find children who are not only
growing up without their fathers but don't know anyone who is living with
his or her biological father.
And what has this meant for racial progress? Fifty years after Jim Crow,
black U.S. households have the lowest median income of any racial or ethnic
group. Close to a third of black children are poor, and their chances of
moving out of poverty are considerably lower than those of their white
peers. The fractured black family is not the sole explanation for these
gaps, but it is central. While half of all black children born to single
mothers are poor, that is the case for only 12 percent of those born to
married parents. At least three simulation studies "marrying off" single
mothers to either the fathers of their children or to potential husbands of
similar demographic characteristics concluded that child poverty would be
dramatically lower had marriage rates remained what they were in 1970.
Black married couples make a median household income of $62,000, which is
more than 80 percent of what white households earn and represents a gain of
13 percentage points since the 1960s. Yet overall, black household median
income is only 62 percent that of white households, a mere six-point
increase over the same period.
Merely walking down the aisle can't explain these differences. Rather, the
institution of marriage appears to promote ideals of stability, order and
fidelity that benefit children and adults alike. Those who pin their hopes
for black progress on education tend to forget this. Numerous studies, when
controlled for income and race, show that, on average, children growing up
with single mothers are less likely to graduate from high school and go to
college. And Moynihan's discovery of a negligible relationship between
"economic conditions and social conditions" suggests that even increases in
black male employment are not a certain cure.
Through the power of his own example, Obama presents a chance to revive what
Lyndon Johnson called "the next and the more profound stage of the battle
for civil rights." Obama's memoir, "Dreams From My Father," conveys the
economic, emotional and existential toll of growing up fatherless, and he
has spoken movingly of his determination to ensure for his own children a
different life. Yet tackling this issue won't be easy. When Obama gave a
Father's Day speech lamenting "fathers . . . missing from too many lives and
too many homes," Jesse Jackson was so incensed that he said he wanted to
castrate Obama. Still, painful as the subject is, the alternative is far
worse: racial inequality as far as the eye can see.
For the full article:
Kay Hymowitz, a contributing editor of City Journal, is author of "Marriage
and Caste in America."
Several asked after I posted a similar article: "WHAT was the JIM CROW era?"
It was a racial caste system - important to the Kay Hymowitz prize-winning
book, Marriage and Caste in America (a must-read for any Marriage Education
Google the term for many explanations or see here - diane
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