The Destruction of The Black Family Pt 1: The War on Poverty


A couple months ago I wrote a blog called, A Few Well Known Black “Facts.”  In this article I laid out 3 black “facts” of Black America that weren’t based on any real numbers.  Regardless of whatever circumstantial situations that may arise to make these statements true in specific instances, on a general level they were all false.  But of the 3, the third one caught the most attention.  The third one was: “Slavery is the cause of the destruction of the black family.”  In that article I went through the numbers from the census to prove that all the way up to the 1960’s Black America was doing just as well as White America in several key metrics and even better in others.  So of course the next question was: well what do you feel caused the destruction of the black family unit?  That is what I am going to answer here.

dr king dreamTo the point I feel that like there were and are still 5 different wars being waged on Black America which all officially started sometime between 1960 and 1995.  The War on poverty, the war on black men, the war on black women, the war on drugs, and the war on black culture and consciousness.  All of these things and more helped to destroy the black family and create the Black America we live in today.  Of course this is a blog so I won’t be diving too deeply into any of these topics here and they also aren’t in any particular order, but there is plenty of information available in books already written on the subject.  Maybe I will write one myself.

1.      The War on Poverty

This is a war we might all be familiar with, or maybe not because this isn’t Dr. King’s war on poverty, this is the government, and as many of us in the Black America understand, anytime the government declares war on something abstract, nothing good is going to happen for black people.  To sum it up in 1930 believe it or not, the black unemployment was lower than whites and thus lower than the national average.  National unemployment was around 8.7% depending on what chart you look at and blacks were slightly below that mark; this was also the last year that this happened in.  What this means is that during the height of the greatest depression in American history, blacks where doing relatively okay, so what happened?

Well the war on poverty happened, kicked off with the 1930 introduction of the federal minimum wage.  Now this is something we have all grown to love over the past 80 years but what it did during a time when whites were looking for work and blatant racism and prejudice was running rampant cannot be overlooked.  Basically what happened was blacks were denied the minimum wage by being denied a job altogether and replaced by white workers who were now interested in jobs previously seen as beneath them. 

In 1933 you had the National Recovery Act introduced, this soon came to be known by blacks as the Negro Removal Act.  You can look into the details of the act yourself and it was eventually declared unconstitutional and removed but in the 2 years that it was installed you saw widespread destruction of the black workforce.  Not only were they not supported in white unions, which the act heavily supported, but they could get and were lynched for attempting to start their own both in the north and the south.  This pushed Black workers further outside of the mainstream workforce.  These things combined saw the black unemployment rate just about double every year for the 2 years and it hasn’t gone down since.

Fast Forward to 1964 when the war on poverty officially started and you have President Lyndon B. Johnson trying to fix a country with a national poverty rate of about 19%.  Without going into too much detail you had 4 major acts involved in this war occurring in both 1964 and 1965.  In 1964 you had the Food Stamp Act and the Economic Opportunity Act, in 1965 you had the Social Security Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

While some of the things that came out of these act have been beneficial, job corps for one, there have been several that have had detrimental effects especially psychologically.  This goes hand in hand with the other wars as it set the table for some of them, the food stamp act eliminated the need for a two parent household as the government was warming up to say, get rid of your man and I will take his place.  Some of you might not agree with that but looking at the numbers women are more likely accept food stamps or government handouts then men.  That isn’t saying more likely to need, that is saying more likely to accept.  With the male being seen as the provider he is easy to replace in that role because all you have to do is show that you can provide as well.  That begins to create tension in the household between the man who no longer feels like a man because he isn’t providing and the woman who no longer needs the man to provide. 

The Social Security Act did the same thing as it created Medicaid and Medicare thus further reducing the need for a black male to provide. Again not all of these things were bad for the black community, I didn’t have a problem with the Economic Policy but the Education Policy which was renamed No Child Left Behind by George Bush had a major impact on schools in poor predominantly black neighborhoods.  One has to look at the psychological ramification of black families when the man is removed from the workplace and not able to provide, and then replaced by the very entity that removed him.  Especially considering the history of the Black Man and White America at that time.

But how do you feel, Do you feel like the war on poverty was big enough to be considered part of the problem?  Is all this psychological mumbo jumbo for the birds?  What would you add as it relates to this particular war?

make sure you click here for part 2 the war on the Black Man and Woman.

The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies
By Kay Hymowitz
August 25, 2005

Why Our Black Families Are Failing
By William Raspberry
July 25, 2005

The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community
By Patrick Fagan, Ph.D.
March 17, 1995


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PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.


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