It continues! It could have been a SDS rally back in the late 1960s or last week at a Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton election rally. But the charge of white privilege (a Leninist adaptation) is alive and well in much of the constituency that makes-up the Democratic Party. At one time in our nation’s history, this was a reality for many Negroes; a term that was conspicuous when I was a youth. Even in my short 65 years of life, as a child growing up in 1950-60s, I can still remember when we traveled passed the Mason Dixon line; my family could not just stop at any motel or restaurant. Many parts of the country were simply segregated.
Also as we traveled south, we seldom interacted with white people. Growing up in an integrated Roman Catholic parish in upstate New York, having Italian, Irish,Black, Polish and German playmates was a given. During those summer vacations when the roles were reversed and my cousins came North on holiday, they were somewhat surprised that many of my friends were white.
My older siblings, born in the 1930 and 40s experience similar cultural discordance. Race mattered in far too many ordinary human interactions. If you were white, even a newly arrived immigrant, one generation off the boat, you had more freedom of movement and opportunities than many Negroes who had been here for generations.
But that was then. Fast forward to today. Despite the familiar rhetoric from race industry advocates, we live in an entirely different reality. For example, if you are a black student, you are virtually guaranteed a college education via a plethora of financial aid packages offered by most universities. In the Post-Civil Right Era, colleges have hired a menagerie of faculty and support staff in order to promote diversity. Black student union groups have been a fixture for decades in many of these institutions. Efforts in the area affirmative action have changed the employment prospects of many minorities in both the private and public job sector. Overall, affirmative action and diversity efforts, despite some of the shortcomings, has fostered a more open and inclusive workplace.
Since the advent of the 1960s Great Society Programs, more than 7 trillion dollars have been poured into the black communities. If anything, a most favored minority status has been the norm in today’s America.
But despite this cultural metanoia, you still hear many whites and black public figures level the charge of white privilege. From Hillary Clinton to the Al Sharptons, and the omnipresent public policy sugar daddies, their political faith-statement, their unquestioned racial hermeneutics are governed by this secular heresy.
As a sidebar, I employ the term heresy, not in the way most lay people interpret the word; that is something that is categorically false. Heresy in tradition religious catechesis meant a partial truth. A truth exploited in such a manner that it bears little or no relationship to the actual situation. To say that far too many blacks don’t seem to be progressing in post-civil rights America, and that the reason is white privilege, ignores more important factors that affect the black underclass.
To cite the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan who conducted an exhaustive study of the black underclass, he noted that you don’t need the excuse of malignant racism to explain the ongoing problems that persist in the black underclass. It can be traced to the breakdown of the black family since the 1970.
Thomas Sowell, an economist who has studied this issue observed that black families were more intact in the decades prior to the Great Society. Two parent households were more conspicuous. Less the ¼ of black households were suffering dislocations. Compare to today where nearly ¾ of black households are headed by a single parent. This exponential rise of families in the black underclass headed by young single mothers would hinder, if not altogether truncate the progress of blacks toward economic and social “opportunity”.
Sadly, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Moynihan’s findings were shouted down and made politically anathema by far too many arbiters of Blackness (i.e., Black Studies academics, sociology professors, as well as many influential public policy wonks). The black underclass is still paying the price for this peculiar form of hubris on the part of Progressive Democrats as well as many Republicans.
It is easy for politicians like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to pontificate the fashionable bromide of white privilege. In the former East Germany and throughout the Soviet Block, capitalist privilege was the axillar served up to the average citizen, blaming bourgeois capitalist privilege for their calamities.
As alluded to earlier, many Marxist/ Leninist ideas have been co-opted by Democrat liberal progressives, and then repackaged. Both white and black Progressives employ the white privilege accusation more for political gain. At the same time, little is ever done to confront the main barriers that keep the black underclass culturally impotent.
In the arsenal of liberal Democrat paternalism, white privilege is just another form of class envy. In today’s body politics, class envy or class warfare has become a major tool for pitting the so-called rich against the poor despite the fact the most people whom we would consider well off, provide the very jobs and tax base that all of us depend on. In a calculated and perverse manner, the current Democratic Party, and unfortunately far too many Republicans, find it necessary, and unfortunately extremely effective to appeal to these lesser angels.
In truth, the only privilege that whites, Asians and other groups have, that is not present in 70% of black community, is a stable family structure. This was largely undermined by the rise of the welfare state of the late 1960s. Blacks survived the horrors of slavery. Blacks overcame the indignities of Jim Crow and racial segregation. What the black underclass didn’t survive was the rise of the welfare state.
Of Bicycles and Men
A famous economist once said when you subsidize something, you get more of it. In the case of the black underclass, we got an acceleration in the breakdown of the black family. Single parent households, headed by young largely uneducated mothers, became the rule instead of the exception. It was thought that increasing welfare benefits through a variety of confiscatory government programs was the key to uplifting these families. The actual result was, that women had more children when welfare payments were pegged to the number of children they had. Tragically this gave birth to another “intended” byproduct of the welfare state. Even when many of the underclass had the opportunity to get off the welfare rolls, the loss in their public assistance when they earned more money was an implicit social progress tax. If recipients increased their income, it would cause them to lose all of their government benefits. As a result, people stayed on the welfare rolls and became perpetual wards of the state. Welfare as structured by the political progressive made poverty more comfortable, while at the same time penalized attempts to escape the welfare state. In regards to its effect on the black underclass, this marginalized the need for men. Fathers became optional!
Feminist like Gloria Steinem even quip that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. This snappy retort was fine in the rarefied air of a feminist conference or a college seminar, but it was literally murderous in the lives of people caught within an unfettered welfare culture. This fully metastasized in the black underclass. As state earlier, it made poverty and mediocrity comfortable.
Yet the unseen effect of the welfare state on the black underclass was it created a behavioral poverty within these communities. The welfare state fed a vicious cycle of unwed childbearing and the compliment of social pathologies that seems to be a permanent fixture in the Detroits and Balitmores.
Despite all the money spent on various welfare and anti-poverty programs, they have only made failure expensive. Behavioral poverty feeds the disintegration of work ethic and the family structure. In many, if not all urban ghettoes, a dependency class is the norm.
It is not white privilege or racism that has retarded the aspirations of the black underclass; it is the lack of a stable family structure, which teaches young men not to take responsibility for the women they impregnate; instead of being the useless sperm-donors that many of them have become. It is a lack of a work ethic that views entry level jobs beneath them, or chump work. It is labeling other blacks who are trying to educated themselves as acting white……whatever the hell that means.
It is not learning or even caring how to present oneself in public. That too is labeled acting white by many in the black underclass. It starts with entire neighborhoods not learning simple civic behaviors like picking up garbage that litters the streets in most inner city communities. It is not white privilege, which stops the underclass blacks from raising children in such a manner that they take responsibility for themselves. Instead a victim mentality has entrenched itself in the thinking of blacks in the underclass. Even blacks in upper income brackets sometimes display this latent victim mentality.
The mind numbing nonsense over racial profiling and police brutality is a prime example of this systemic victim mentality. It is a false cultural narrative which distracts us from looking at family structure or lack thereof in the black underclass. The charge of racist police, overheard almost nightly on the news, is a dangerous charade indulged in by blacks at all income levels.
Black criminals, mostly young men, heirs of the Great Society Welfare Programs are the real dangers that most of us living in urban areas fear.
Urban mythologies like “hands-up don’t shoot” propagated by Black Lives Matter or Sharpton’s National Action Network, do not address decades of cultural anomie. Like the NAACP, Sharpton’s NAN is an elaborate waste of time.
In its heyday, the NAACP was a great organization. It unquestionably was a key player in securing equal rights for Blacks during the American apartheid era. However, since the late 1960s, it has gone the way of most great movements. It became a business! Later, a full blown racket, that has done very little to address issues of black-on-black crime, poverty, education and a host of other infirmities affecting the black underclass.
This is not say that these organizations claiming to speak for the black underclass could not do something positive. However, it is much easier (and lucrative for many) to scream white privilege. It is easier to trout out the straw man of income inequality, when the real issue is outcome inequality which can be placed at the doorstep of failed social engineering programs like the Great Society. The result was the black underclass became trapped in its own version of Groundhog’s Day.
The black underclass will continue to be underlings, if the reality of family breakdown is not addressed.
 Affirmative action despite its original intention of making up for past discrimination and leveling the playing field, has for the most part been a public policy windfall for middle class blacks and college educated white women. Foreign nationals of color have also been the big winners in the affirmative/diversity action sweepstakes.