Academics and public intellectuals, who should know better, attempt to explain the highly visible and publicized pathology witnessed in cities such as Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Ferguson and others as a legacy of slavery. The argument is made that the problems encountered by many black Americans are rooted in white racism, greed and income inequality. They are able to get away with these untruths because most people believe that what is seen today has always been. A bit of history would belie such a vision.
The Left struggles to explain why black unemployment and illegitimacy were less severe during times of greater racism.
Let's examine a few of the most crippling problems in the black community. Chief among them is the breakdown of the black family. Actually, "breakdown" is the wrong word; the black family doesn't form in the first place. As late as 1950, female-headed households were only 18 percent of the black population. Today it's close to 70 percent. In the late 1800s, there were only slight differences between the black family structure and those of other ethnic groups. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households were two-parent households. In 1938, 11 percent of black children were born to single mothers; today it is close to 75 percent. In some cities and neighborhoods, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births is over 80.
Nationally, black youth unemployment is nearly 40 percent. In some cities, it is over 60 percent. But high black youth unemployment is entirely new. In 1948, the unemployment rate for black teens was slightly less than that of their white counterparts — 9.4 percent compared with 10.2. During that same period, black youths were either just as active in the labor force or more so than white youths. Today black teen labor force participation is a fraction of that of whites. Even during the early 1900s, black males were either just as active in the labor market as whites or more so.