Friday, July 17, 2020

"We're Doing Fine on Our Own": How the Welfare State's Helping Hand Hurt Black Families

There is a lot of talk today about the disadvantages the black Americans suffer under in 2020. Some say that racial disparities today are largely the result of the injustices blacks suffered throughout American history, they say, "History has consequences." They are right about that, history absolutely has consequences, but the implication for black Americans is that all the consequences of the suffering of hundreds of years of slavery, discrimination, and racism have been all bad.

I believe the African American story is an inspiring American story that all Americans should learn from. Black Americans have accomplished a great deal for America, which has been made more extraordinary by the fact that they made these contributions during the horrors of slavery and under the oppression of racism and discrimination. It’s utterly inspiring!! All Americans should study the many triumphant hero’s and examples of early black American successes — American dream stories. 

On the subject of generational disadvantages among black Americans due to the long sufferings of slavery and the arduous climb to secure civil liberties, it should go without saying that black families in America have had more obstacles in their way than white families for many generations. The struggle has been profound!

Fifty years after emancipation, and under the continued poverty and discrimination they suffered during those times, the black American family was strong. In fact, black families were more “in tact” and more devoutly Christian than their white counterparts in 1920. A beautiful black culture of faith & family developed at that time. I believe it was their devotion to faith, family, hard work, and self-sacrifice that began changing racial perceptions leading up to the civil rights movement. Also, this period of time produced the principled — extraordinary leadership — of one of the most successful (if not the most successful) non-violent revolutions in world history!

Now, am I saying that discrimination and racism did black America a favor —NO — but I am saying that as blank Americans walked their own unique road they transformed not only America but the western world in the area of race relations. The world and history is full of people who suffered generational poverty and other cultural or racial discrimination and disadvantages, but none so grave as black Americans. For this reason their success story is all the more triumphant.

The principle of upward economic mobility is a quintessential American creation. Prior to American liberty and capitalism, if you were born poor you died poor, and unless some great accident of fortune just happened across your path, so did your children and your children's children. The idea of the American dream was legendary because of rags to riches stories, but as amazing as those stories are, for the vast majority of American immigrants economic upward mobility was a generational acquisition. The struggle was real. Many immigrant groups suffered discrimination, such as Asians, Irish, Jews, Mormons, and more -- of course no group endured anything like what black Americans suffered -- but these groups did make generational moves into the middle class. The fact that they were able to do that despite discrimination and persecution tells us something important about how negative history doesn't have to define our futures in a negative way.

It goes without saying, that no other racial or cultural group in America suffered more oppression than black Americans, and that they had to struggle longer to make their upward climb into the middle class. In a better world, in a better America, emancipation would have been the beginning of their generational climb in the American system. Under reconstruction it began to look like it was possible, but no sooner did the federal troops pull out of the south that black Americans feel under the dark despair of their racist neighbors. The extreme oppression, particularly in the south where black Americans lived in the largest numbers, made generation progress extremely slow. In 1940, 86% of black Americans still lived below the poverty line. What is extraordinary is what happens next. By 1960 only 47% black Americans lived below the poverty line. In 20 years the black community saw 40 point decline in poverty. The swiftest decline in poverty among any group and human history!! 

It’s important to note that the reduction in poverty was coming about without government intervention, without the poverty programs of the welfare state, that it was happening even before black Americans had secured universal suffrage. Some of the things that helped produce social progress I discussed previously, black America was doing fine on their own, they were spurred forward by the strength of their character and their future. Other things that helped with integration was that broadly states in the US were extending equal treatment to blacks, while southern states ruled by racist Democrats continued to “keep them in their place.” Federal integration was slower as Democrats continued to block civil right progress in national politics, but service in the military and the post war economic boom, were changing attitudes toward race in general played a significant part in producing a majority able to push through federal reform in the 50s and 60s.

What happens next is the most critical to understanding why the extraordinary progress black Americans had made began to stagnate among a verily significant number of poor blacks living in Americas inner cities. Black communities in the U.S. had come this far by faith, their faith and their families had been the bedrock of their success. At the culmination of the civil rights movement there was another revolution taking place that was going to cut a serious blow to black families still living below the poverty line. The disintegration of marriage in the late 60s and 70s stifled the extraordinary upward momentum that had showed promise in the 40s and 50s. Upward mobility among blacks slowed as family structures weakened. Instead of making their way out of these poor urban areas, as other racial and immigrant groups had done before, many black Americans were getting trapped in poverty with all it's social ills. 

Another extraordinary shift was taking place in American politics in the 50s and 60s. The Democrat party was losing it's constituencies. On one hand Americans had just fought a war against socialism, fascism, and were now at war with communism. The progressive era socialist had taken root in the Democrat party. This put the party out of touch with Americans who had been exposed to the evils of these systems of government in their experience in World War II. In addition, the country was becoming more racially integrated and was turning away from the racist politics that had characterized the Democrat party for over a hundred years. 

The Democrats had a perception problem and shrinking constituencies. This presented a challenge, but the solution was brilliant. Democrats recemented their power by doing a 180 on civil rights legislation, embracing the sexual revolution and anti-war hippies, and using their socialist ideology to sell a "helping hand" to poor black Americans. In other words, the Democrats capitalized on the revolution, re-branded socialism for the modern age, and became the benevolent Fathers of black America rather than the party of slave holders.

It became a powerful political narrative and cemented black Americans as a primary constituency of the Democratic Party for generations to follow. Democrats built a massive welfare state to address inequalities; yet, the disparities remained, and the anger and desperation escalated. For the black family the disaster deepened and so did the poverty trap. Today 75% of black children are born to single mothers, a key social indicator of nearly all social disparities seen in poor minority communities.

"If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering." ~ Brookings Institution

For several generations many black Americans have grown up in this construct built by the left in America. They have been generationally convinced that Republicans are racist and don't care about the plight of black American, because Republicans opposed the welfare state policies, and this makes them appear careless of the plight of poverty in black America. However, conservatives sincerely believe that liberal policies have hurt not helped minorities become upward mobile, that they have contributed to single motherhood, generational poverty, crime, and other lost social progress. In maybe the greatest political irony of American history, black Americans have turned against the party of abolition, emancipation, and civil rights and adopted as their political fathers the party of Jim Crow.

By the year 2020 a growing number of black Americans have begun to rebel against the lock step loyalty for the Democratic party. They have been examining the history and asking critical question about the authenticity of the Democrat narrative and the effectiveness of their governance. Cities and states governed by Democrats for 50 years have gotten economically worse and suffer from extreme crime rates. Black Americans who leave the Democrat party have their "blackness" questioned and are treated like traitors of their culture, they are Uncle Toms.

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