On the Black Family, Absentee Parents and Progressivism

In previous blogposts, I noted that 60s and modern liberalism have been unkind to the black family. The troubles of the black family are widely known, and it is without question that the black family has had a comparably bad run from the 1960s onward. But why?

It’s hard to be exact and certain about that, but here is something to note: The black family has had greater problems with absentee parents than white families since the 1880s. Apparently, black families were 2 to 3 times more likely to have an absentee parent from the 1880s to the 1960 than white families (see link). Thus, the revolutions of the 1960s did not lead to a difference in absentee parenthood between white and black families. Instead, the degree of difference between black and white families was just exacerbated from the 1960s onward, creating much more of a significant difference. But why?

Progressivists and modern liberals like to cite racism and poverty. It’s their answer to pretty much everything. Why? Probably because it is an answer alleviates the sting of failure and bad choices, gives cause for further social justice and makes it somebody else’s fault. It’s thus an ideology of crisis and tua culpa. Unrest and blame is the mechanism by which motivate, always creating a new oppression and oppressors – it’s how they win elections and dominate the culture wars. And to the extent that they always blame others, they deny agency and a freedom for excellence, which thus, quite ironically, makes them the modern enslavers of blacks. Harsh, but true.

In any case, take a look at their explanation: racism. Racism explains this? Really? That’s awfully incredulous, because blacks probably faced more racism and racial discrimination in 1880 than in the height of the civil rights movement and beyond, but yet they still had a better family constitution than today. Poverty is also incredulous because blacks were poorer and less educated in 1880 than they are today. In fact, poverty and a lack of education was a good predictor of a two-parent, black family (see page 148 of previous link), which suggests that poverty itself cannot be used to explain this difference and degree. Something else was amiss. But what?

It’s difficult to be exact and certain, as I said before, but it seems that culture and bad choice plays a role. I suspect that black families, already being less stable than white families, as we learned earlier, were far more vulnerable to the 1960s’ revolutionary times. These times challenged the value of authority, tradition and gender roles while touting free sex and narcotics. This helped changed the active values of blacks and black communities, encouraging poor choices and destructive behaviours. Did racism and its history play a role? Yes, of course. But just like the Jews and anti-Semitism, culture and choice can make a difference. The Jews chose wisely. Their cultural values, their emphasis and insistence on community, family and education pulled them through admirably. The blacks? Not nearly as much. Again, harsh but true. Not all cultures, values and choices are equal for all ends. That should be obvious.

In any case, here’s a worry for my own community, the white family. Our rates of children who lived without their biological father is now at a rate that parallels the condition of the black family in the early 1960s (see page 4 of this link). We don’t face similar challenges as blacks, so I don’t think that our future trajectory will be the exactly the same, but white men need to smarten up and start making better choices, too. Put your willies away until marriage and then stay married.



  1. As long as “progressive” blacks and others refuse to listen to the likes of (conservative blacks such as) Thomas Sowell and Jason Riley when it comes to the conditions for upward mobility, they’ll continue to push a one-sided narrative about how rotten America is on racial issues, and how bigger government is the solution.

    Unless or until I hear the words “blacks like Sowell and Riley say X, but here’s how they’re mistaken” from a prominent “progressive,” I won’t and can’t take seriously the “progressives” commitment to responsible dialogue. Is anything like this happening in the hallowed universities? What evidence is there that it is? Are Sowell and Riley ever included in curricula? What ratios are there between assignments of materials by “progressive” blacks such as Ta-Nahesi Coates and of materials by Sowell? Why isn’t information like this prominently broadcast for all cultural participants to see and evaluate?

    Based on what the really vocal and visible leftist campus activists are saying, they don’t know jack about the Sowell refutations of leftist orthodoxy. Is that what passes for being educated on campuses?

  2. Might one reason be desegregation? What it Sowell or some other I recall laying out how before this time middle class blacks lived in communities with working class blacks, the doctor close to the janitor and intermarried. Later the doctor left and moved into upscale suburbs and left behind those who could not afford to get out. the fabric of the community was torn and the values that predominated shifted. Drugs and licentious culture poured in as was the era and upward mobility and the impulses towards it slipped further away.

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