Welfare Hurts Blacks the Most

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A short time ago, I said:

The current "civil rights" establishment does a better job than any racist hick ever could have of ruining the prospects for millions of young black Americans.
It's probably safe to say that Walter Williams agrees with me. He has some interesting facts and figures on hand to to support such a point, as well as to refute the standard leftist narrative on race.
First, weaken the black family, but don't blame it on individual choices. You have to preach that today's weak black family is a legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and racism. The truth is that black female-headed households were just 18 percent of households in 1950, as opposed to about 68 percent today. In fact, from 1890 to 1940, the black marriage rate was slightly higher than that of whites. Even during slavery, when marriage was forbidden for blacks, most black children lived in biological two-parent families. In New York City, in 1925, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were two-parent households.
Most damning about the redistributive welfare state is that Wiliams doesn't even have to bring up the fact that it is wrong for the government to steal from citizens in the first place. The practice subjects us all to open-ended robbery, but its further consequences are quite devastating.

The welfare state harms everyone, but black Americans in particular.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you quote Walter Williams, "In fact, from 1890 to 1940, the black marriage rate was slightly higher than that of whites. Even during slavery, when marriage was forbidden for blacks, most black children lived in biological two-parent families."

Yes, quite. In fact, the matter of families and marriages was complicated under slavery not only by the fact that slave marriages were not legally recognized (though socially they were, among white slaveowners as well for the most part), but also by the fact that in many instances the husband and wife lived on different farms or plantations: Quite often the number of slaves on one farm or plantation was simply too small for all slaves to find spouses. (Spouses might meet through slaves being hired out to other farmers, for example.) This also had the interesting and saddening benefit, amid the trials of separation, that spouses would not be forced to watch each other being punished, or in some cases of watching their children being punished. And one common reason that slaves would abscond from their owners was to visit a spouse--apparently in many instances blind eyes were turned to such absences if they didn't drag on too long.

More than that, after the end of the Civil War there was a great worry and irritation among Southern whites about vagrant and fluid blacks (to use two less unflattering words I believe were common at the time) wandering all around the South. Part of that mass movement was simply to enjoy a freedom that had been denied to them before, but a great majority of it was black men searching for their wives, children, and other relatives whom they had been separated from by sales. AND, even when it would have been economically very beneficial for wives in black farming families to take work in factories or shops, husbands and wives both refused: Partly this seems to have been simple pride among black men in being able to support a family by their own labor, which also was a satisfaction denied to them under slavery. (Part of it was a justified reluctance to allow their wives to be placed in positions in which they might be sexually exploited by white employers.)

But the important theme in all of this is that slaves wanted to be able to marry and raise families, and this carried over on the whole after slavery so that Southern blacks did everything they could to live up to this ideal earlier denied them. The loss of this ideal in contemporary America is not a consequence of lingering effects of slavery.

Snedcat said...

As to what did cause it, in large part it was the infusion of radical leftist ideas among black intellectuals in the late 50s and especially the 60s that was common currency with the similar trends to barbarism and violence among young white intellectuals--the confluence of the Marxian Freudianism, for example, of the Frankfurt School intellectuals who escaped to the US during the rise of Nazism (Adorno, Marcuse, etc.), the existentialist ideals of "authenticity" of Sartre combined with his intellectual progeny like Franz Fanon and the crasser trappings of Negritude (also common reading fodder in the classrooms among young white intellectuals), and all the rest of the fetid brew that served as the amniotic fluid of the New Left. (One book that does a good job of discussing those factors in American society in general and the universities in particular in the 1960s is Morris Dickstein's The Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties, or at least I remember the first chapter in particular being a good if sympathetic account of those intellectual developments in the 1950s, but it's been a decade and a half since I read it.)

There are some special social and economic factors that you can point to as shaping this somewhat--the decline of industrial jobs in the centers of cities and the rise of the suburbs in the 1950s that, as some observors point out, stranded the black working classes just at the time that social and legal forces would have helped them break out of occupational ghettos, and a consequent rise of what some writers call the "juventocracy" among young black men in the 60s and 70s that has accelerated since then, but it was the perverse barbarism erected as "black authenticity" among many young black intellectuals that allowed such economic factors to have those effects--after all, far harsher conditions under slavery didn't have any such effect.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Here's a great video from Peter Schiff interviewing rapper Chapter Jackson where she exposes a lot of the welfare way of 'life'. Eye opening. (Starts a bit slow but it gets better and better). I liked how Schiff ended it: "If they want to talk about slavery, now they're welfare slaves and it's the liberal establishment that is their master".

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks, as always for your edifying comments.

Anon 1,

Never heard of Cord Jefferson and didn't have time to view the video (or read the essay0, but a skim of the latter reminded me of a Thomas Sowell book I read a while back on "redneck" culture, which he holds described modern black "urban" culture.

Anon 2,

Your link to the video is missing. If you come by again, could you supply it?