To Help Black Children We Need to Help Black Families

Naturally, prominent black liberals insist the problems facing black children have nothing to do with family problems and are all caused by racism.

One of the most obvious ways you prevent yourself from changing your bad habits and failings is by claiming that it is all someone else’s fault. Then, when someone points out that your own behavior is responsible for your bad circumstances, or the bad circumstances that have snared your children, you accuse the critic of personally attacking you out of spite.

Both those two strategies are on display in Charles Blow’s New York Times’ piece, “Black Dads Are Doing Best of All.”

One of the most persistent statistical bludgeons of people who want to blame black people for any injustice or inequity they encounter is this: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(C.D.C.), in 2013 in nearly 72 percent of births to non-Hispanic black women, the mothers were unmarried.

It has always seemed to me that embedded in the “If only black men would marry the women they have babies with…” rhetoric was a more insidious suggestion: that there is something fundamental, and intrinsic about black men that is flawed, that black fathers are pathologically prone to desertion of their offspring and therefore largely responsible for black community “dysfunction.”

Blow has, what I call, “courtroom prophets,” ready to aid him in his rationalizations for the plight of black children. The term, “courtroom prophets,” refers to the time in the Bible when kings kept “prophets” around who would tell them what they wanted to hear so that they could ignore the words of criticism and warning that come from real prophets.

Why would there be an industry of “courtroom prophets” ready to use half-truths to assure Liberals that they didn’t need to worry about the black family breaking down?

The reason is just the opposite of what Blow alleges. No one is saying anything pathological about black fathers. After all, some kind of inherent pathology would be timeless.  And that’s not what we see. We see changing rates. As Charles Murray shows in his stellar book Losing Ground, welfare spending that surged at the time of LBJ’s alleged “war on poverty” was a game changer for black families. It incentivized single-motherhood and absent fathers and other problems that hurt black children.

[See also, “Black Families, Poverty, and the Barack Obama Regime.”]

So the real effort here is to pretend that the state has not destroyed the black family through its replacement of the husband and father with the government check.

The National Review’s Robert Cherry succinctly responds to Blow’s “selective data.”

Fatherly involvement decreases dramatically among both black and white fathers when they are no longer living with their children. Many fathers have limited relationships with their non-custodial children, as Pew Foundation and CDC surveys have confirmed. More than one half of men reported that they had not shared a meal with their non-custodial children in the last four weeks, while nearly two-thirds had not read to their children four years old and younger, and three quarters had not done homework with their children five to 18 years old.

But there is a problem: The same data show a dramatic difference in the share of black and white fathers who did not live with their children. Among white children five to 18 years old, 21.6 percent live in a fatherless household; the figure for black children is 42 percent. Among children up to four years of age, the figures are 9.2 percent for whites but 31.4 percent for blacks.

These racial differences reflect the much larger share of black than white women who have children with more than one partner. Sociologist Cassandra Dorius has estimated that, over their lifetimes, 59 percent of African-American mothers, 35 percent of Hispanic mothers, and 22 percent of white mothers will have given birth to children by more than one father. Many studies document how a child’s abandonment by his father leads to serious education and behavioral problems.

There are also discrepancies in how likely it is that black children will suffer maltreatment if a man other than the father is living in the house. In that case, black children with single mothers are better off in most cases than they are when their mothers take in another man.

People can change how they behave. But they have to want to do so. Having Liberal “intellectuals” like Blow assure people that they are fine “just the way they are,” is not helping black children or anyone else.