Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
Some are puzzled by the dishonesty, lack of character, and sheer stupidity of many people in the media. But seeing as most of them are college graduates, they don’t bear the full blame. They are taught by dishonest and irresponsible academics. Let’s look at it.
“A Clash of Police Policies,” a column written by Thomas Sowell, presents some readily available statistics:
Homicide rates among black males went down by 18 percent in the 1940s and by 22 percent in the 1950s. It was in the 1960s, when the ideas of Chief Justice [Earl] Warren and others triumphed, that this long decline in homicide rates among black males reversed and skyrocketed by 89 percent, wiping out all the progress of the previous 20 years.
Academics and the media blame poverty and discrimination for today’s crime. No one bothers to ask why crime was falling in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, when blacks faced far greater poverty and discrimination.
The 1960s riots were blamed on poverty and discrimination. Poverty and discrimination were worse in the South than in the rest of the country, but riots were not nearly so common there. Detroit’s deadliest riot occurred at a time when the median income of black families in Detroit was 95 percent of their white counterparts, plus the black unemployment rate was 3.4 percent and black home ownership was higher than in other major cities.
Academics teach that the breakdown of the black family is the legacy of slavery and discrimination. They ignore the following facts.
In 1950, 72 percent of black men and 81 percent of black women had been married. Also, only 17 percent of black children lived in single-parent households; today it’s close to 70 percent. Every census from 1890 to 1950 showed that black labor force participation rates exceeded those of whites. During the late 1940s, the unemployment rate for black 16- and 17-year-olds was less than that for white teens.
According to the 1938 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children and 3 percent of white children were born to unwed mothers. Before 1960, the number of teenage pregnancies had been decreasing; both poverty and dependency were declining; and black income was rising in both absolute and relative terms to white income. As late as 1965, 75 percent of black children were born to married women. Today, over 73 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers. Again, so much for the “legacy of slavery” argument.
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