CRIME and RACE (Continued from here)

 

 

Those who try to argue that the cause of crime is a problem about black people, rather than poverty regardless of race, would say something like, "Sure, unemployment and poverty may be associated with a higher rate of criminal behavior no matter what the race, but black fathers far more than white fathers abandon their children, and this in turn causes a culture of poverty mainly among blacks that leads to preferring crime to honest work. How come black fathers do this more than white fathers? It must be something about being black." The famous Moynihan Report of 1965 (online here) headlined facts such as "Almost One-Fourth of Negro Families are Headed by Females" and "The percent of nonwhite families headed by a female is more than double the percent for whites" and linked this to high rates of youth criminality:

 

"Recent psychological research demonstrates the personality effects of being reared in a disorganized home without a father. One study showed that children from fatherless homes seek immediate gratification of their desires far more than children with fathers present.49 Others revealed that children who hunger for immediate gratification are more prone to delinquency, along with other less social behavior.50 Two psychologists, Pettigrew says, maintain that inability to delay gratification is a critical factor in immature, criminal, and neurotic behavior.51"

 

There are two points that these "the problem is blacks" people ignore.

 

First, while neighborhoods with more female-headed families (both white and black) tended to have higher crime rates, the association between female-headed families and crime is much less than the association between extreme poverty and crime. In the Krivo and Peterson study cited above, the correlation between crime and a high number of female-headed families was only .096 compared to .616 for the correlation with extreme poverty. (Correlation ranges from negative 1 to positive 1; negative values mean when one variable is low the other tends to be high, positive values mean when one is high the other tends to be high also;  zero means no association and 1 or negative 1 means the maximum possible association.)

 

Second, the evidence indicates that it is unemployment (or jobs that pay too little to support a family) that causes men to abandon their families, not the race of the man or anything unique to "black culture." During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the mainly white working class suffered the kind of terrible unemployment that still affects black men today. According to Frederick Lewis Allen's Since Yesterday: The 1930's in America, a 1940 survey estimated that as many as "1.5 million married women had been abandoned by their husbands." 

 

One account of this period says,

 

"By 1933 millions of Americans (we'll never really know how many) were desperate. Out of work and with his family depending on him, the breadwinner, the patriarch, the father/husband bore the brunt of the despair. When he couldn't provide for his family, he felt ashamed and humiliated. Many of these men abandoned their families and became what one has called 'a generation of wanderers,' vagabonds, or hobos. Unable to find work and seeing that each job they applied for had hundreds of seekers, these shabby, disillusioned men wandered aimlessly without funds, begging, picking over refuse in city dumps, and finally getting up the courage to stand and be seen publicly - in a bread line for free food."

 

In "Women during the Great Depression"  the authors write,

 

"In most of the pictures that I took the women look really sad and depress, and they have a reason to be I mean most of them needed too get jobs, plus all of the house work they had that was a lot of work, I think out of all of thing women were the strongest ones, because they had more rolls too play during this times, it was bad, kids and women took this so much worse because, men if they couldn’t take this any more, they would just leave and forget about it, but women had to go trough it no matter what they couldn’t really run away from life and reality and that’s jus the truth."

 

What happened to predominantly white working class families in the Great Depression demonstrates that high unemployment tends to drive many married men, regardless of their race, to abandon their families because they are ashamed that they cannot fulfill their role as provider. Men in the past left, and in the present leave, their families NOT because of their being in a culture that says they shouldn't provide for their family but, on the contrary, because of being in a culture that says they SHOULD provide for their family and being ashamed at not being able to do what they believed they ought to do. When the high unemployment (or lack of jobs that pay a family wage) lasts generation after generation, the negative effects are disastrous.

The greater poverty of blacks compared to whites is largely due to the fact that the enslavement of blacks in earlier generations prevented wealth from being passed down to current generations of blacks, in great contrast to the inheritance of such wealth by current white generations. This is spelled out in an academic study here (pdf).

Black-on-Black Crime is Caused by Systemic Racial Discrimination: Here's How it Works:

 

The people who say "the problem is blacks" also say that black people far more than white people like to sell drugs instead of doing honest work. What they don't want to admit is that the minimum wage dead-end menial jobs that are the best jobs many black and Hispanic youths can hope to ever get--jobs that are viewed with great disrespect by all of society including by blacks and Hispanics--are hardly going to seem attractive compared to the allure of dealing drugs, which seems to offer not only much higher pay but also high prestige and a chance to rise up in the "business."

According to the Justice Department, "Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs), and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States." And according to this report, gang activity accounts for an average of 48% of violent crime in most jurisdictions, and up to 90% in some jurisdictions. This 90% figure refers to what is known as "black on black" crime.

The poorest, predominantly black and Hispanic, people in the United States are told to either accept low paying dead-end jobs that are disrespected by everybody including themselves, or to try to gain wealth and prestige in the illegal gang-controlled drug business which, because it is illegal, can only "do business" (compete and enforce contracts) by violent means (as opposed to relying on the legal state apparatus with its official use of violence or its credible threat, as legal businesses do). All illegal businesses--not just those run by blacks or Hispanics--rely on illegal violence or its credible threat; this is illustrated by the notorious violence used by the Jewish gangster Mickey Cohen, the Italian Mafia, and the Irish gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger.

The solution to the problem of crime--including "black on black" crime--is an egalitarian society with no rich and no poor, with an economy that is based on everybody being able to work who wants to, and providing everybody who is willing to work everything they need or reasonably desire for free (or equitably rationing scarce things according to need). In an egalitarian society no husband will ever be driven to leave his family for shame at not being able to provide for it. Nobody will feel trapped and forced to choose between abject poverty in a minimum wage dead end job or the lure of escaping poverty by criminal behavior. The crime caused by poverty will vanish and be remembered only as a problem of the past, like legal chattel slavery and explicitly racist Jim Crow laws.

 

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For more hard data and analysis of the crime/race connection see the following:

 

"Incarceration & social inequality" (2010), published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which states:

 

"In the last few decades, the institutional contours of American social inequality have been transformed by the rapid growth in the prison and jail population.1 America’s prisons and jails have produced a new social group, a group of social outcasts who are joined by the shared experience of incarceration, crime, poverty, racial minority, and low education. As an outcast group, the men and women in our penal institutions have little access to the social mobility available to the mainstream. Social and economic disadvantage, crystallizing in penal confinement, is sustained over the life course and transmitted from one generation to the next. This is a profound institutionalized inequality that has renewed race and class disadvantage. Yet the scale and empirical details tell a story that is largely unknown.

Though the rate of incarceration is historically high, perhaps the most important social fact is the inequality in penal confinement. This inequality produces extraordinary rates of incarceration among young African American men with no more than a high school education. For these young men, born since the mid-1970s, serving time in prison has become a normal life event.

The influence of the penal system on social and economic disadvantage can be seen in the economic and family lives of the formerly incarcerated. The social inequality produced by mass incarceration is sizable and enduring for three main reasons: it is invisible, it is cumulative, and it is intergenerational. The inequality is invisible in the sense that institutionalized populations commonly lie outside our official accounts of economic well-being. Prisoners, though drawn from the lowest rungs in society, appear in no measures of poverty or unemployment. As a result, the full extent of the disadvantage of groups with high incarceration rates is underestimated. The inequality is cumulative because the social and economic penalties that flow from incarceration are accrued by those who already have the weakest economic opportunities. Mass incarceration thus deepens disadvantage and forecloses mobility for the most marginal in society. Finally, carceral inequalities are intergenerational, affecting not just those who go to prison and jail but their families and children, too."

 

 

This article is an extremely interesting discussion of ancient African history that helps to put any discussion of race in more realistic perspective.

This article puts "black on black" crime in perspective.

 

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