Printed in the Indianapolis Star, August 16, 2013
In his August 12 column, Mark Russell takes a black CNN anchor to task for saying blacks should stop “wearing baggy/sagging pants, littering, using the N-word, having children out of wedlock and dropping out of school.” Russell affirmatively quotes blogger Tracy Clayto, who said “It is not the job of people of color to prove their decency to whites in hopes of being treated humanely.”
Let’s take the use of “the N-word” and baggy pants out of it and focus on the two big behavior modifications mentioned – dropping out of school and having illegitimate children. Study after study has demonstrated the destructive effects of illegitimacy, both for the mother and her children. Children who grow up without a father (and their mothers) are more likely to be poor and to continue the cycle of poverty. Teens who drop out of school deny themselves many employment opportunities to better their lives, leaving crime as the back-up option for many – and that leads to prison.
If you do not want to be poor and you do not want your children to be poor, get your high school diploma and do not have children before you are married. Once married, stay married to the same person for life. Setting aside sexual morality, those two things – education and marriage – are the two most effective anti-poverty programs we have in this nation. (Not to mention the civilizing effect a wife and children have on men by forcing them to grow up and be responsible.) No government assistance program can repair the damage done by ignoring those two things.
That is not just a black problem. The bad choices that lead to generational poverty are not confined to one skin pigmentation.
Nothing excuses white racism. Nothing excuses treating blacks as inferiors. But if we want to make real progress toward improving the lives of blacks, especially in the inner city, we have to be serious about the kinds of behaviors that are both self destructive and harmful to future generations. Pointing the finger at others like a whining child does absolutely nothing to solve those very serious problems.