Russell and Duenes

What Jim Crow Couldn’t Do

with 5 comments

“We lived in the Richard Allen housing projects [in Philadelphia]. My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. But we were the only kids who didn’t have a mother and father in the house. These were poor black people and a few whites living in a housing project, and it was unusual not to have a mother and father in the house. Today, in the same projects, it would be rare to have a mother and father in the house. The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do, and that is to destroy the black family…Today I doubt you could find any significant problem that blacks face that is caused by racial discrimination. The 70% illegitimacy rate is a devastating problem, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with racism. The fact that in some areas black people are huddled in their homes at night, sometimes serving meals on the floor so they don’t get hit by a stray bullet—that’s not because the Klan is riding through the neighborhood.” (African-American professor, Walter Williams, in an interview in The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/11)



Written by Michael Duenes

January 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Duenes, Race

5 Responses

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  1. If this is related to the “welfare state,” it is only related as much as racism, Jim Crow and Slavery. Among other catalysts, it is also directly related to the weak and self-serving nature of our current church body.


    russell and duenes

    January 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  2. I believe Dr. Williams would refute your assertion that racism, Jim Crow, and Slavery were as responsible for the destruction of the black family as welfare has been. I know you disagree with him, but I find him persuasive largely because we can look at the black family all the way up until the 1960s and see that it was not until the 60s that the black family really started a precipitous decline. That has to be explained, and if slavery, racism, and Jim Crow were responsible to a similar degree as welfare programs, we should have seen this destruction of the nuclear black family must earlier, should we have? This is not to say that blacks were free from discrimination before that, it is simply to say that the black family was not destroyed before that.

    Can’t disagree with you about the church.


    russell and duenes

    January 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

  3. He must be forgetting how the nuclear family was destroyed when Africans were brought to the Americas and split up on purpose. African slave “families” were made as pear bonds from that point forward and there was a constant fear of continued separation. Many Africans and African-Americans were not both mentally and physically “families” because of this premise. In the 1860s, when slavery “kind of” ends, families were not as solidified as whites because of this continued fear of being separated by slave holders. The legacy of family division continued from this point forward. If Williams doesn’t take this into account, his entire historiography is very questionable.


    russell and duenes

    January 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

    • I think he takes slavery into account. He’s not arguing that slavery was good in any kind of way. He’s not arguing that slavery didn’t break up families. What he’s saying is that, whether blacks lived in fear or not, we never saw a 70% illegitimacy rate among blacks at any point prior to the institution of the Great Society programs. We certainly didn’t see it in the 1940’s and 50’s, when racism was at full tilt. Suddenly, we now have less racism than we’ve ever had in this country, less than blacks have ever suffered in any country, and the black family is in worse shape than it’s ever been, and this has not happened by the forceful destruction of black families. So there’s no direct correlation between an increase in racism and an increase black illegitimacy and fatherlessness. Rather, the correlations are inverse. Racism has been going down while the family dysfunction has been increasing. An objection to this often goes thus: “Racism hasn’t been going down; it’s worse now than it’s ever been, it’s just being seen in different ways.” But I don’t believe this assertion can be supported on any reasonable evidence, and the continued use of it, particularly by white Democrats, is a massive part of the problem. That’s what Williams is trying to say.

      An interesting side note, Williams was inspired to study economics by reading none other than W.E.B. Dubois.


      russell and duenes

      January 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

  4. When you write that Williams asserts “we never saw a 70% illegitimacy rate among blacks at any point prior to the institution of the Great Society programs,” I am suggesting we did see very high illegitimacy numbers among slaves immediately- forced illegitimacy as the exact method of producing more slaves. What was the exact percent before The Great Society programs(under Johnson in the 1970s)? During Jim Crow? Does Williams give that information? I don’t know what the exact percent of illegitimacy was during slavery, but I do know that it was high and it happened based on pear-bonding and the raping of slaves. “Families” as you and I know them were NOT what most early slaves experienced. The 1940s and 1950s had other issues that led to illegitimacy, but forcing humans into illegitimacy as THE practice of pear-bonding for two hundred years means something; and it is the beginning point to the problems you raise. All I am saying is that this is a legacy that cannot be ignored. I think he is politicizing this issue(and it sounds like you are as well). I am not saying the “welfare state” isn’t part of the EXTENDED problem left over from slavery. I am, however, convinced that it wasn’t the source.

    russell and duenes

    January 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm

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