Thursday, November 25, 2004

Emphasizing the Negative

The trouble with articles like this one, which is about poor urban black "families", is that it focusses so exclusively on phenomena that are undoubtedly a problem, that it conveys the idea that this is the experience of all American black people. When I read this article I remember my friend Tina, a college graduate and one of four children of a two parent family raised in Ohio.

There are a great many two parent black families. They represent not a breakaway "new" model, but the prevalent model of black families until maybe 30 years ago. The truth is that welfare and attitudes that encouraged irresponsibility have contributed to the creation of dysfunctional black families as they have to the creation of dysfunctional families of every ethnic origin. What this article, probably well meaning does, however, is reinforce the idea that the free sex and love--welfare--crime continuum is somehow uniquely black. It's not. You will find some of the same phenomena, expressed differently but still the same fatherlessness, going on among white and Hispanic families. It is the result of a culture that believes that sex should be untied from responsibility. Sex in the city leads to fatherless children living in poverty leads to crime. That is how reality works. What this article is missing is the need to return to a sexual morality that says that sex should be confined to marriage. It's not prudery. It's not right wing religious fanaticism. it's what is best for children.

City Journal Autumn 2004 | Dads in the ‘Hood by Kay S. Hymowitz: "Could the black family—in free fall since the 1965 Moynihan report first warned of the threat of its disintegration—finally be ready for a turnaround? There's sure a lot of soul-searching on the subject. A 2001 survey by CBS News and, a website affiliated with the Black Entertainment Television network, found that 92 percent of African-American respondents agreed that absentee fathers are a serious problem. In black public discourse, personal responsibility talk, always encompassing family responsibility, has been crowding out the old orthodoxy of reparations and racism. Bill Cosby's much debated remarks in June at the Rainbow/Push conference, calling on parents to take charge of their kids and for men to 'stop beating up your women because you can't find a job,' set off an amen corner. Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Barack Obama, the black Illinois senatorial candidate, celebrated family, hard work, and the inner-city citizens who 'know that parents have to parent.' In a New York Times op-ed, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates added his blessing when he asked, 'Are white racists forcing black teenagers to drop out of school or have babies?' Even the wily Reverend Al recently corrected one of the Times's most fervent PC watchdogs, Deborah Solomon, that, no, Cosby wasn't being racist, and that 'we didn't go through the civil rights movement only to end up as thugs and hoodlums.'"

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