Friday, October 03, 2008

The Lost Generation of Black Family Research Since the Moynihan Report

My family class spent the past month reading research about black families. A student said today that she felt bad writing her paper on the subject, because it seemed like just bashing black families, especially black men. While we have read some encouraging news, especially about the achievement of the married black middle class, most of what we have read is a long litany of decline.

This got me reflecting about what might have been. In 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan produced The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, he pointed out that the black illegitimacy rate had reached 25%, compared to a white rate of about a quarter of that. Moynihan argued that, now that the foundations of legal segregation had been demolished, it was time to work on the other social facts that threatened to hold back African Americans in the future. High on his list was family structure, something few others noticed at the time.

As anyone who has studied black families knows, Moynihan was subjected to a firestorm of criticism for suggesting that there was anything amiss with black family life. The phrase "blaming the victim" was invented to excoriate this report. As a result, it became taboo to study black families for a generation. The work written until the late '80s tended to praise the strengths of black families and hail their alternative cultural arrangements.

Then the empirical struck back. The conditions of black families, and other families, had gotten so bad that political correctness could not fend off reality. A flood of studies followed, which quickly discovered that during the lost generation, the black illegitimacy rate had gone from a scary 25% to a disasterous 70%.

In those lost decades it would have been very unpleasant to point out that things were getting much worse for black families, mostly due to the choices of black people themselves. This would have seemed like "bashing." But if we had been willing to research the facts and face the hard truth, perhaps the movement to restore black marriage might have started sooner. Perhaps we could have halted the decline before fatherlessness became the norm for African American children.


Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]A student said today that she felt bad writing her paper on the subject, because it seemed like just bashing black families, especially black men.[/quote]

Brother Weston - please allow me to give an observation about a confinement that the Black community is going to have to resolve before we can adopt effective management practices to address our most challenging problems.

I am preparing a blog post which looks at the phenomenon that I will give you a brief over view of here.

If I was a journalist who wrote an expose about how Black people are being summarily killed by police all over the country in my mission to give "voice to the voiceless" I assure you that I would win every single jounralistic and civil rights award known to man. If I, working on behalf of the "Black victim" went into these very same Black communities and documented all assaults on Black people and thus determined that it was another Black man who was the assailant in the most common occurrence and I dared to focus too much on the systematic antics of these assailants - those same award giving bodies who were so happy at me for protecting Black folks against EXTERNAL threats....would be among those attacking me for hating myself as a Black man.

The problem is that in the context of political opportunism and ideological double standards our community has not developed the language by which we have learned how to put forth effective pressure to direct our people INTERNALLY toward a favorable end. Today we have an apparatus that is attended toward keying in on external threats and upon converting INTERNAL threats into the residue that is caused as a result of past and present external threats.

The subject of the Black family and the current dysfunctional relationship that so many Black males have to this foundation is a common focus for me. It is clear to me that various Black operatives in their attempts to "defend the status quo WITHIN" are unable to put forth any sort of alternative system that will product change among those who have been identified as doing the harm that we so frequently talk about.

Yes they talk about the costs but they seek to outsource it as a societal burden and a missed opportunity that the nation must fix. The very same people who told these national outsiders to "mind their own damned business, your people have problems as well" are the same people demand that society is to blame for the current state of the Black male and the Black family for it did not care enough.

As a Black conservative I am looking squarely at the consequences of the morphed Black political and community agenda and how our communities have been failed. The inability to have that which we seek in the way of benefit expressed upon our own backs - among the systems within our communities has rendered us largely impotent in solving these problems.

This point is most evident when we look at areas that have a high concentration of Black people. Despite having an array of favorable political leaders after years of advocacy, while they are running the important institutions within our communities they are not asked to nor held accountable for failing to product the results that the community has long advocated for. Instead they "expand the police tape", making their failures, again, national failures and, yet again, go on the path of political expansion with the CLAIM that upon successfully controlling the next plateau, that long sought after peace within will be had. The only threat to this future glory, however, is if we don't remain unified in this political space and instead begin to ask questions.

From my point of view the inability for the Black community to "go right" when it needs to is the essence of what you are writing about. When you are an individual in a system that is rolling upon you and your rights it is logical for you to become an activist seeking to change this outer system so that you might have your rights. However, upon obtaining your fundamental rights and you begin to assume power over these same institutions that once oppressed you - it is now up to YOU to express these desired outcomes by fielding policies and prohibitions that guide the masses toward this directed form.

The ethos of "non-judgmentalism" which so many of our people are bound to (well at least among their non-enemies that is) renders them impotent as they seek to maximize theoretical personal liberty and rebellion while eschewing the inspection of that individual's contribution to his current fate via his own actions.

In summary - the prevailing challenges that Black people face have changed in 2008 yet the language and mechanisms to deal with them are still stuck in the past. This is only going to change by having the Black establishment to deliver effective benefit per their power position or to push them aside because the mission is more important than the man and the ideology that he popularly holds.

Anonymous said...

You are a brave and compassionate man. Brace yourself for the attack.

Marty said...

This is a great example of why we MUST reject laws and policies bout hate speech, hate crimes, and should ignore those people who are always harping about "bashing" and "tolerance". Sometimes the truth DOES hurt, in the short term. But ignorance hurts far worse in the long.

Tolerance means having a thick skin, not a dull wit.