Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Before I begin citing the problems facing those born into Black America, let’s begin before birth. If you are potentially Black in America, but still have yet to take your first breath, you have about a 27% chance that you will never be born (according to a study by the American Journal of Public Health.) Other studies suggest that this statistic could be much higher, especially in NYC and other large cities. If you are lucky enough to take your first breath, you have about a 69% chance that you were born to an unwed mother. Other statistics suggest that you have a 33% chance that you will grow up in poverty. Even if you are not impoverished, you have a 46% chance you will be poor, that is your family’s annual resources comprise less than 2X the poverty rate. Note that 27% of low income Black families have no visible means of support at all, that is no one in the family is employed. If you live in a single parent household, you are almost certain to be impoverished.
There is some reasonably good news; if you are Black, you still have about a 79% chance that you will graduate from high school. However, the quality of your high school education may not prepare you for work or college. If you go to college, there is a 58% possibility that you will drop out before graduation. Though African Americans (self-identified in census data) make up just 12.6% of the US population, FBI arrest statistics indicate that Black Americans commit over 50% of the murders and robberies committed in the US. The victims of those crimes are nearly always Black as well. The incarceration rate for Black American males is over 4%, so babies unlucky enough to be born both Black and male face a 4% chance of becoming a prison inmate. Once in the system, you will likely remain there; 86% of Black prisoners are rearrested and sent back to prison (80% for Whites, alas.)
If you are Black and of working age, you are more than 2X as likely to be unemployed as a White person. This statistic is likely to be much higher in large urban areas (like 6.5X in Washington, DC.) These figures move with economic conditions though the ratios remain stable. The numbers are quite a bit worse for younger working-age Black Americans.
So what is at play here in America? Why is it so difficult to be successful in America if you are Black? Who stole Black America’s dreams and left them wallowing in despair? Is this evidence of White Privilege and Systemic Racism, or is something else at work here?
What is at work here is racial politics that encourage poor choices and bad outcomes. In pandering for the Black vote, politicians have allowed communities to be overrun with crime, drugs, and despair. Instead of encouraging good choices and pursuit of dreams, politicians have provided a desperate existence of state dependency, public or subsidized housing and unwed motherhood. Schools have been allowed to decline, achievement has been denigrated, and expectations have been serially lowered. Success is measured in how easily and readily one can game the system and score free benefits or hide under the table earnings. Property has no value to those who have none. Lives have no value to those who see no future. Politics and politicians become the means to continued subsidy. And worst of all, wanting more, wanting out, working to better oneself, is seen as despicable, as an affront, as disloyal. If you obviously try to seek a better life, you are a pariah. Despair, you see, must triumph over dreams.
So how to address these issues.
First and foremost, there is the problem of unwed mothers and unplanned pregnancies. This problem is not exclusively a Black American problem. The Hispanic and White illegitimacy rates have been rising for decades as well. And with illegitimacy comes poverty and state dependency. Two-parent and earner families have more stability and flexibility, can pursue opportunities where ever they arise, and are much less likely to remain mired in poverty. In better circumstances, children are more likely to thrive and achieve. Expectations are higher all around. So from a policy perspective, whatever we can do to encourage intact family formation and marriage, then the horrific outcomes that are unfortunately the rule in single-family households mired in poverty, can be averted. These initiatives should be entirely colorless but will impact the Black community most because illegitimacy disproportionately affects that community.
No doubt, education must also play a role here. We must improve schools in predominately black and other impoverished communities; this is obviously not just a funding problem. Some of the worst-performing schools in the nation (NYC, Boston, Baltimore) spend more than 2X the national average per student on education, and yet the schools in poor and declining neighborhoods are failing. Support for charter schools and voucher programs has proven to be an efficient and effective way to force public schools to perform and compete for students. A major effort must be made to encourage education and allow both parents and children to see educational achievement as a means to a better life. Everyone must understand that opportunities are unlimited if they strive for better, acquire skills, and achieve in the classroom.
Lastly, Black communities must be purged of all crime, drugs, and gangs. These corrosive influences destroy communities, place them under siege while leaving the neediest and impoverished, those who cannot leave, to be easy victims, stuck in a horrific situation. Drugs and dependency are always the wrong choices. Children who grow up in such a desperate environment, who cannot see any kind of better future for themselves, are recruited into lives of crime and drugs, of poverty and dependency.
Once crime is controlled, incentives can be used to bring back commerce, to renovate property and to rebuild communities.
In the meantime amid this horrific collective tantrum some call protests, we have to get the message out. We care about these communities. We want every American to achieve and make something better for themselves. We have no reason to wish anyone anything but contentment and success. And most of all, we want nothing but success and achievement for Black Americans, but it’s not something that they can take. Like every other American, they have to work for it, overcome obstacles, persevere, and achieve.Published in