Post Racial Racism in the Post

As we come closer to the "post-racial
age" of a Barack Obama presidency, I am intrigued to find that post-racial
racism is already being propagated in the pages of the Washington Post.
In "An Enduring Crisis for the Black Family," Kay Hymowitz blames
the economic disfranchisement of African Americans upon the personal
behavior of Black people and the silence of Black leaders concerning
this behavior. Ms.

As we come closer to the "post-racial
age" of a Barack Obama presidency, I am intrigued to find that post-racial
racism is already being propagated in the pages of the Washington Post.
In "An Enduring Crisis for the Black Family," Kay Hymowitz blames
the economic disfranchisement of African Americans upon the personal
behavior of Black people and the silence of Black leaders concerning
this behavior. Ms. Hymowitz portrays the massive national
growth of single parent homes as a Black pathology. She uses the real
challenge of the breakdown in the traditional family to further stereotype
and lay blame on African Americans for racial inequality in this country.

As one who studies racial inequality
and the African American condition in particular, I have often been
told to ignore the studies that show there is still racial prejudice
in employment, homeownership, and predatory lending, and to instead
look at the rapid decline of two parent households for African Americans.
In the report "40 Years Later: The Unrealized American," I looked
at the decline of the two parent household for Blacks and whites and
found some surprising results. Using data from the 2007 State
of Our Unions report I discovered that the share of Black children living
in a single parent home increased by 155% between 1960 to 2006. The
share of white children living in single parent homes increased by 229%
during this same time period. The white two-parent family has declined
at a faster rate than the Black family. Yet, Ms. Hymowitz never once
mentions that the increase of single parent Black families exist in
a context of an even greater rate of increase in single parent white
families. Ms. Hymowitz attacks Black leaders for not addressing
this issue yet as a white woman she never sees fit to mention this issue
as it relates to white Americans.

Was Ms. Hymowitz so concerned
about the African American community that she failed to consider that
Blacks were part of a national social trend that was cutting across
racial lines? I do not know. What I do know is that she is a fellow
at the Manhattan Institute, an organization with a history of concluding
that the "deficiencies" of African Americans are the primary cause
of inequality. Charles Murray, formerly of the Manhattan Institute,
is the most renown example of this tradition. In 1994 he co-wrote
the book "The Bell Curve." This best selling book argued
that Black/white inequality could be explained by the inferior intelligence
of African Americans.

Ms. Hymowitz's charge that civil rights leaders historically and today
remain silent on the topic of Black family and single parent households
is as misleading as her portrayal of the break up of the family. Growing
up in the 1980's, I remember listening to Rev. Jackson as he urged
Black men to stand up to their responsibilities as fathers. In 1995
I was proud to participate in the Million Man March, the largest Black
gathering this country has ever seen. Over a million Black men came
together to pledge greater responsibility for their families and to
atone for their sins. The Black community and its leaders have always
engaged the issue of greater self-responsibility. One can
look back to Garvey, Dubois, Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman for
this tradition.

In his book "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community," Dr.
King stated "History continues to mock the Negro today, because just
as he needs ever greater family integrity, severe strains are assailing
family life in the white community." Someone seriously concerned
about the decline of the two-parent family would not racialize a serious
national problem. They would, instead, challenge the nation to address
this problem in unity. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who grew up in a single parent
home, stated in 1988 that "Protecting America's families is not
simply a problem of the poor. It is a challenge to the entire society,
a practical as well as moral challenge." Jackson proposed a Family
Investment Initiative, an initiative that would go beyond talking about
family values and instead place societies' resources behind valuing
families. As we approach the inauguration of Barack Obama, we look to
the President Elect to enact legislation and inspire a national commitment
to strengthen all American families, and to bridge the racial divide
that for too long has divided this nation.