It All Starts With Family


Believe it or not, this piece by Kay Hymowitz was published in The Atlantic:

Coates is right that tough-on-crime laws will have a disproportionate effect on blacks since they are more likely to be offenders (and victims for that matter). Still, whites and Hispanics were hardly immune to their effects. Incarceration rates for white and Hispanic men almost tripled between 1960 and 2010. Today, 63 percent of inmates are white and Hispanic. If mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow, it somehow manages to get an awful lot—a strong majority, actually—of non-blacks into its clutches.

The Jim Crow theory is on slightly firmer ground when it comes to drug offenses. Blacks and whites appear to use and sell drugs at similar rates, yet blacks are considerably more likely to be arrested and to serve time in prison for drug offenses. The 1986 Anti Drug Abuse Act legislating harsher sentences for crack cocaine also helped to load the penal system with black prisoners.

I say “slightly firmer ground,” because chalking up these policies to racial animus leaves several challenges. For one thing, there is evidence linking the crack epidemic to a rise in violent crime; that is not true for powdered cocaine. Second, though there is a widespread impression the war on drugs explains most of black incarceration, that’s not remotely the case. Drug admissions account for only 20 percent of the rise among the incarcerated since 1980. Almost two-and-a-half times the number of black men are serving sentences for murder, assault, and the like in state and federal prisons as are serving time for using and selling drugs. Today, violent criminals continue to make up by far the largest cohort of the freshman class of prisoners—black, white, and Hispanic. Like most writers on this subject, Coates chastises the U.S. for having among the highest prison rates among advanced nations. The numbers are shocking but it seems worth noting that compared to other advanced nations, the United States also has by far the highest homicide rates even after years of decline.

The hardships suffered by people who have served time, and their families, are real and profound. Relatives, who are typically very poor to begin with, struggle to put together the cash for lawyers and family visits. Ex-offenders find themselves branded for life. Employers tend to throw away job applications from men they consider a risk to their business and maybe even their lives. Prison records may well play a role in the distressingly low black-male employment numbers.

But without considering the counterfactual, these genuine grievances float in ideological thin air. Would black families be better off if violent offenders had been in their homes or on the streets? Would black communities? In one of his follow up comments to his article, Coates urges shorter sentences for violent crimes. In some cases—especially for those reaching “criminal menopause”—that makes sense. But recidivism is extremely high among former prisoners: More than 70 percent of prisoners convicted of a violent crime will be rearrested within 5 years, a third of them for another violent crime. Of course, that means two-thirds will not be, but insofar as prison does have some “incapacitation effect,” that is, it takes criminals off the streets, shorter sentences may mean more crime. How to calculate the potential damage caused by longer prison sentences versus the risk of more street crime is a thorny moral and policy question. Those more inclined to weight the second over the first may well be wrong, especially in these relatively safe times. But does that make them complicit in a Jim Crow system—that is, racists?

What does all of this have to do with the black family? Far more than Coates leads readers to believe. Children suffer when their parents go to prison, he writes. Yet he says nothing about the suffering of black children growing up in chaotic families, though that suffering is itself highly correlated with the scourge of ghetto crime and incarceration. Seventy-two percent of black children are born to unmarried mothers. The majority of those children will see contact with their fathers “drop sharply”; within a few years, about a third of dads will basically just disappear. Children don’t take well to the succession of partners, step- and half-siblings that follow their parents’ breakup. Studies, not just a few, but a slew of them, connect “multi-partner fertility” and father absence to behavior problems, aggression, and later criminality among boys even when controlling for race and income. Doesn’t that suggest black-family disruption could have some bearing on crime and incarceration rates?

Before 1960, when poverty and racism were by all accounts far worse, the black family was considerably more stable. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the large majority of black women were married before they had children. Black children were less likely than whites to grow up in two-parent homes, but only slightly so. It was only after 1960, even as more black men were finding jobs and even as legal discrimination was being dismantled with civil-rights legislation, that the family began to unravel. It was precisely that unexpected disconnect that spurred Daniel Patrick Moynihan to warn that “the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself” in his 1965 report.

Waving all of this away as “respectability politics” ignores this history; it ignores anthropology; and it ignores many decades of research. It also risks neglecting the real suffering of black children and their communities.

There are numerous problems in our black communities, including illiteracy, teen pregnancy rates, welfare dependency, and crime. The Left blames them all on racism. Try to discuss other causes and you will be called a racist.

It all starts with family. Look at men like Thurgood Marshall, Herman Cain, Ben Carson and Colin Powell who rose from modest beginnings to professional success, and you will see that they all credit their strong (although not necessarily intact) families.

Family is not a panacea, and the lack of a strong, stable family is not predestined failure. Bad people can come from good families, and good people can come out of bad families. But there is no single thing you can do that will help your children find the path to personal and financial success more than being a good parent. Good parents are even better than a trust fund.

Good parents make sure their kids get an education. Good parents teach their children morals and values. Good parents lead by example. Good parents instill discipline. Good parents make sacrifices for the good of their children. Good parents don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Good parents don’t abuse each other or their children.

But good parents aren’t perfect. Good parents need help. Hillary Clinton famously said that it takes a village to raise a child. She’s right, but not as right as she thinks. We all need a support web of family, friends and neighbors.

But we do not need Big Brother and Big Sister raising our children. In fact, too much government is bad for families and children. If government could fix the problems in the black community then why haven’t they done it already?

It all starts with family. Unfortunately the current black leadership has other ideas. They preach MORE government dependency. They demand “reparations”. They reject “white” culture.

There is no financial incentive for black leaders to preach self-reliance and assimilation. All the financial incentives go the other way, so they preach dependency and racial grievance.

But what do I know? That’s probably just my white privilege talking.



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33 Responses to It All Starts With Family

  1. helenk3 says:

    Many black women whom I worked with, were working to make a better life for their kids. just like me. More than the “you owe me’ blacks. Worked with black males that came from poor families and wanted better and were willing to work for it.
    It is not color that makes you who and what you are, it is attitude, determination, and willingness to work and learn to make your life better.
    “poor pitiful me and you owe me” gets you nowhere

    • 49erDweet says:

      What I notice is the significant difference between black single mothers in the 60’s and 70’s versus those I see today. Back then most seemed to bust their butts to raise their children. More and more today it seems like once the kids become toddlers, they’re pretty much just roommates. Mom seems more interested in her own potential sex life than actually parenting anyone.

      • Myiq2xu says:

        It’s probably easier to be a good single parent when single parenthood is the exception rather than the norm. The impact of absent fathers is lessened if there are lots of stable, positive male role models in your life.

  2. Myiq2xu says:

    Bill Cosby talked about this stuff and suddenly he was a sexual predator.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Oh wow, I also connected the dots to the Pound Cake Speech. Just wondering how the left will take down Carson, like they did Cain last election cycle.

    • 49erDweet says:

      This is not a POV the “professional black” community want’s to hear. Because it’s true and because there’s no money to be made from it. It’s GOTTA be someone else’s fault!!!!!!

    • NewOrleans says:

      Bill Cosby has always been a sexual predator, but it was ignored for the fantasy that he was Cliff Huxtable, America’s Dad. It wasn’t until last year when Hannibal Buress, a black comedian, started talking about it onstage was it OK for non-tabloids to finally start talking about it.

  3. Myiq2xu says:

    I was gonna say that “Eighty percent of good parenting is showing up” but that is a paraphrase of a Woody Allen quote and I don’t consider pedophiles to be good parents..

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Something happened between The Beatles and Sex and the City that resonated with me. Growing up with the greatest generation parents (one of each) and my own experiences as a parent. All adults now, one of each. The character Miranda assured the character Carrie that her problems shouldn’t be blamed on the Dad that abandoned her at a young age, because Miranda’s Dad came home every night and she was even more screwed up in her relationships with men.

    I have a feeling Dunham’s “Girls” hasn’t helped the latest generation of of girls ?

  5. Myiq2xu says:

  6. Myiq2xu says:

  7. helenk3 says:

    Oregon sheriff says westboro baptists fruitcakes threatening to show up at shooting victims funerals.
    this would be a really really bad move on their part

  8. 49erDweet says:

    Oh, NO!!! Looks like the Central Coast is being invaded by 24,000 Canadians in the next few days. There goes the neighborhood, eh?

  9. driguana says:

    “Family” is just a part of a larger matter…..something like morality, moral fiber. Being “moral” or having morals is part of the family value process, for sure, and of church, too, but it is also something else….not sure how to say it…but akin to “the golden rule” or rules….treat others like you want to be treated…don’t kill! Once those ideas or ideals are gone, they are hard to retrench back into society. We seem to be well past that. It’s a very difficult issue. But you raise really good points. I had parents who would never have treated anyone unkindly, even if they didn’t like them! It definitely transferred to my sisters and brother, as well. So many people just don’t give a shit anymore…and it is absurd to call it “racist” when yo bring that up about black culture for sure.

  10. mothy67 says:

    I know not if it is true but my nephew says you can buy a Pittsburgh to New York ticket for 1 dollar. Does not stop at the Galleria but stops at the yuuuuuge strip mall outside Philly . You just get off.

    • votermom says:

      Hi Mothy, there is a bus that goes to LOL mall but it’s around $100 round trip. Have not heard of the $1 one.

      • mothy67 says:

        Magic or Miracle bus. You have to buy to NewYork but uou just get off in King of Prussia. Leaves from the conventio center not the greyhound station. Calle megabus. Have to buy 30 days in advance but it is a dollar. Pittsburgh to Philly is 69 one way. So stupid all you have to do is get off in King of Prussia. Also always use La Guardia in New York. The bus drops you off @ 125. A EC 1 9 trains. So much faster than a cab. And 3 dollars. Avoid the train. Beautiful but goes putt putt. 12 hours. Flights are a joke. You have to be there six years ahead of departure. Pitt airport was built right before 9/11. It is a mall but onceyou check in you are stranded. Maybe they fixed it. Years since I used that airport. County hub is 5 minutes away. If your daughter needs to fly look at county airports. I was going to London. Cheap tickets suck. I flew from Pittsburgh to O’Hare then to Detroit then to Boston then to JFK then Heathrow. I was in an airport for 30 hours i fly with nothing. Got stopped because I had no bags. I wear t shirts and levis. I buy a new tootbrush. Such a hassle. My passport is stamped from many visits. I have a flat in London where I have a toothbrush. I never carry a bag.pain. i was in cuffs for about 2 minutes locked in a room. Guy said you have no underwear. I said I have an apartment in london. I was maltreated

  11. Dora says:

    Oh My Goodness! Does she really think this is going to help?

    Hillary Hits Obama for Being Too Strict on Illegal Immigrants

  12. mothy67 says:

    What is with TV shows targeting tweens in which a teen is sexually active with an adult. My niece wanted to watch Teen Wolf. So i checked it out. Gayest show ever. I get young girls like pretty boys because they are safe but all these shows have a teen having sex with a cop or teacher. I find it alarming. I so never want to have that talk.But I know its coming. I am reading everything I can but there is so much info out there via a smartphone. Difficult to navigate. I never want shame but I a lso don’t want to be permissive. I have a friend who had chlamydia. Guess the signs are hard to spot. She has stage four cervical cancer. 48. Organs are shot. I find the liberal mindset of free love disturbing. No kid should get HIV but it happens. I was lucky growing up Catholic. I saw people die. PReP is the new thing. SEEms it lowers infection to zero. There are still othe risks. Traditions that have lasted centuries have survived because they made sense. Progressives act like the world was in shadow before them. The hubris is appalling. That article from Salon about pedophilia was repulsive. All these CW/MTV/ ABC Family shows are highly sexual. I am no prude but an active sex life has yuuge responsibilities. I see nothing wrong with boundaries. I was a kid Mrs Cunningham could not say toilet paper on the phone it was tp. Eight o’clock was family hour on the TV. I have read that some schools are teaching 4th graders about vibrators. I would be incarcerated if they tried that here. I confess I am scared. You can really screw up a kid when it comes to sex. Baby girl is 9 smart but I have avoided the gay issue. She may know by now but I was never going to make it an issue. I have given her 9 years. She was discarded. Big whoop. She will find out I am gay. We will burn that bridge when we cross it. I found it funny a few years back JK Rowlingsaid Dumbledore was gay. Talk radio went insane. All over the news. I read every fucking page aloud to her. We would read all night and then watch the movie. I thought I would have to deal with gay. Nope. She loves books. Harry Potter was an incredible gift. Wonderful story. I could talk to her about integrity, friendship, family, honesty. She will discover I am gay she might get mad. Hate me. That is her right. I cannot dictate her feelings. They are hers. KLOWN said something about family and how it has maintained society brat is my family. Think about it she was left alone. I am an asshole I was unable to leave her alone. I am 48 gay guy i wanted to move to Lisbon and drink red wine on a beach. No I got a kid. I tell her everynight I hate her. She says good I love you more. Her life was going to be shit. Awful, poverty abuse. I ran into her by mistake. I am an asshole. Never knew I had anything to give. I got stuck with her. Throw away kid. She has a green belt, takestap jazz ballet hip hop voice actingclarinet, french piano, softball, basketball. ALL a mistake. I was picking her up at daycare place was so awful. She never went back. I t reeked of poop. I went Norma Rea. Time will tell. I expect anger. Her dad is a sociopath. I have made decisions to keep him away. . Someday she might hate me. I can deal i accept her anger. Lima beans are epic battles.i will be hated its part of the job. He now telling her stories that are me. He is that wharped. I taught her colors by buying her a balloon everyday. Tuesdays was craft day. We made paper mache pizza all kinds of stuff. He is demented he tells her he did that stuff with her. He attempts to reinvent her childhood. He is borderline. So many lies. Constantly in jail. Been to court 6 times. He uses legal aid. Has never bought her a pair of socks. Costs him almost nothing to file. My attorney is 225 an hour. GEts exhausting. An ec CIA guy was visiting his sister from Philly he did all the background work for free. Odd we were watching a girls softball game. We got to talking my roommate used to bang Doug The Bounty Hunters Son. He was watching his niece play. He did a full background check for free. He had tons of stupid stuff. Areested for larceny like 20 times. His girlfrien had the sheet. Identity theft. Hundreds of charges. Does not matter family court is freaky. ARrests warrants do not count. Bloodbath. If yo ever have to go take a lawyer. He bruised his kid because he said she was a spoiled brat. He said he will buy her food and she will eat it. I am in charge. She has not eaten meat in two years. She wants to go to Purdue and be a vet. I support her. We have a bunny and two mentally ill dogs. She is sensitive. Come on be real. She lives with my dad he has COPD carries an iron lung but is her softball coach, i am her 48 year old gay uncle, my mom quit school at 15 because she was knocked up, Bella is a dog she is on prozac and xanex. Goes to therapy. Cam was beaten and left for dead. Vet said every bone in his legs was broken. Duh SHay is sensitive. I am in awe of her. Spirit is profound. I am allergic to cats but we found these kittens in a box. Too young for shelter. I could not breath around them. So damned cute they would crawl up on my shoulder and sit. I was so afraid my little one might be an ass. Kids get fucked up when mother does not ever call. Pup is so gentle. Loved those kittens i see so much in her. I want to cry. How the hell did this happen No clue how a judge hears he punched her in the face and ignores it. Who punches a kid??

  13. mothy67 says:

    I know I am babbling but I was thinking what a tremendous gift I have been given with this little girl. I had plugged in my kindle and I saw it all starts with family. I cannot remember when I didn’t wake up thinking about brat. I smile a lot thinking about her. Do not care at all what anyone else thinks. Ghey guy raising his grand niece. Shut up who cares. People are nuts. I calked her pup and this woman went crazy telling me I hated women and was demeaning and sexist. What i call my brat pup all the time. I tell her it is because i can’t remember her name.

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