What’s Going On? – Part V Black Lives Do Matter, Unfair Discriminatory Structures

Part III and Part IV” of this series reviewed 1) the tremendous progress that blacks in America were making before the War On Poverty (“WOP”) began — despite very high levels of racism and racist laws that intentionally impeded black progress, and 2) how the WOP brought the pace of black progress nearly to a halt and tore asunder family and neighborhood cohesion, which had facilitated the progress that had been achieved before the WOP. The long overdue and extremely positive civil rights laws and court cases to rid the country of Jim Crow laws and other racist barriers to blacks’ progress (clear examples of “structural racism,” “institutional racism,” or “systemic racism”) were insufficient to counteract the harmful effects of the War on Poverty.

Because the WOP laws inured to the disadvantage of blacks over the long run, one might be tempted to claim that it was an example of “structural racism.” That would be a mistake (although President Johnson, who ushered it in, was undisputedly racist). “Racism” (“[A] belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others”) is reviled by the vast majority of Americans. Such revulsion serves multicultural societies well and may be necessary for multicultural societies to thrive or, possibly, survive. Watering down “racist” to mean anything to which people of color happen to object takes the sting out of being called a racist. If being called does not sting, it’s power to cause people of all hues to act civilly toward each other will sapped.

While President Johnson and some congresspeople who voted for the War On Poverty were racist, there is no reason to believe that the voting public that supported the war had animosity toward blacks. Moreover, blacks supported WOP policies.[i]

Because the WOP inflicted great net harm on blacks,[ii] it was unfair to blacks. It wasn’t, however, “racism,” structural or otherwise, because most people believed that the WOP would help blacks. Sadly, Democrats still support discriminatory, but not racist, policies that disproportionately harm blacks.

The most debilitating unfair structures imposed on blacks by Democrats are inexcusable and deserve immediate attention. The following are two of the more critical examples:

EDUCATION. To thrive in a modern industrialized society without a good education, both intellectual and moral, is exceedingly difficult, if for the vast majority of people. Yet Democrat ideas about education have failed the vast majority of poor blacks.


The crony compacts between Democrat politicians and teachers’ labor unions[iii] crush effective education in virtually all inner-city schools, which are mostly populated by non-whites. Because teacher’s unions’ effects are not limited to Democrat-run cities, the Union/Democrat Compact prevents black children from escaping the clutches of almost all big-city public schools. Those schools fail to teach all but a small percentage of black students.[iv] Not only do they fail to teach the skills to enable most black students to compete for and keep jobs, but they also fail by teaching black students that they should not have to work to have a good life because they are owed a good life because of their grievances. As valid or invalid as those beliefs are, holding those beliefs induces most of those students to live unthriving lives of dependency and to vote for the politicians who are politically advantaged by the grievances of those students and the dependence and poverty those grievances cause. Consequentially, the last thing those politicians can politically afford to support are policies that would enable those black students to thrive. The result is that as few students will be able to escape generational poverty and the perpetual exploitation by Democrats and labor unions.

An example of the corruption: “School expenditures in high-poverty districts are typically well above the national average,”[v] but “In the last 20 years, the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school…”[vi] Significant reasons for spending money on expanding administrative staff instead of teacher pay increases or student education is that adding administrators increases the number of dues-paying union members. Why? 1) Some of those dues will find their way into campaign coffers our outright gifts; 2) More union members increase the size of armies of people willing to pound the pavement when Democrats run for office; and 3) educated students are more likely to be prosperous and no longer dependent on Democrats, all of which would be devastating to the Unions/Democrat Compact.

Neither those politicians nor people who vote for them are necessarily racist. Indeed, many of them wish that they did not have to exploit black students to keep their office. It’s not racism; it’s corruption.


In his book, “Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison,” Michel Foucault chronicled the atrocious history of government and industry using punishment and discipline to cause people to serve the state and the economy. I thought the history he recounted was fair, although not completely accurate, and agreed that, although the brutality of punishment diminished over time and, where practicable morphed into discipline, the modes of discipline and punishment evolved to achieve the same ends as has always been the case. Whether he intended it or not, his highly influential book so discredited both discipline and punishment that ever more people have concluded that neither discipline nor punishment is necessary to civil society. The eternal questions about discipline and punishment are how much and how it is applied is optimal. The only question leftists are willing to countenance is: “How much less and how much milder can discipline and punishment be (unless civility can be maintained with trophies alone).”

As I have discussed HERE, HERE, and HERE, the fallacy that discipline and punishment are dispensable has done untold damage to black students. In “Nike’ Mistake—Supporting a Counterproductive Cause Against Police,” I described how Nike’s support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against all police (which have been generally supported by Democrats, will cause there to be a higher percentage of bad cops is police forces over time — which will disproportionately hurt blacks.

[i]Black Past: WAR ON POVERTY”: When the Office of Economic Opportunity was not funded to Martin Luther King’s satisfaction, he “expressed the sentiments of many civil rights and anti-poverty activists when he argued that the War on Poverty was being ‘shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam,’” (connecting the underfunding was a consequence of spending on the war).

[ii]What’s Going On? – Part IV

[iii]Teachers Unions Don’t Really Strike for ‘the Kids’

[iv]Stagnant City Schools Are Failing Minorities

[v]Teachers Unions Don’t Really Strike for ‘the Kids’

[vi]Study: School administrative bloat increased 700 percent since 1950

Another California Bust

Last year, California passed a law[i] that went into effect in January that deemed ride-hailing drivers to be employees (as opposed to independent contractors, as they had been in California and are still in most places). Unable to get a court to strike down the law, Uber and Lyft are suspending operations in CA starting next Friday. The suspension will put 220,000[ii] formerly independent drivers out of work and income at least until November 3 (when a vote will be taken on a ballot proposition to classify ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors. The law requires Uber and Lyft to classify their formerly independent drivers as employees, which triggers payroll taxes and employee benefits. If the proposition fails, those 220,000 drivers and other California ride-hailing drivers (e.g., DoorDash drivers) will permanently lose their ride-hailing source of income. Ride-hailing companies will exit California.

At least until November, Californians will suffer:

  • The convenience of no ride-hailing services (DoorDash will be sorely missed by people staying at home during an epidemic),
  • More drunk driving,
  • Downward pressure on low skilled wages (due to hundreds of thousands more people looking for work), and
  • Retail outlets having fewer sales because hundreds of thousands of people will have less money to spend (which will reduce the sales and income taxes those retailers pay),

to name but a few of the negative consequences of the law.

The sweet nothing legislators cooed into the ears of voters to justify the legislation was that it would raise wages and benefits for ride-sharing drivers and taxes for the state, which, they said, would be for the benefit of all, especially the disadvantaged, downtrodden, marginalized, poor, and oppressed people of the state.  (As if Californian Democrats had previously shown a willingness to direct a sufficient percentage of its $50+ billion annual tax revenue in a way that would relieve those people of their hardships and dependency.)

The reality, however, is not as Democrat politicians depicted it. Everyone who understood the effect of the legislation would have known that the law would end the viability of ride-hailing companies operating in the state. An ignored critical reality is that no ride-hailing driver drove involuntarily. Consequently, ride-hailing drivers only drove when they believed the advantages of driving outweighed the disadvantages of driving, i.e., when they thought they were better off by driving. Having a right to higher pay and employee benefits is only helpful to people if such jobs are available. The legislation denied over 220,000 drivers erstwhile opportunities to improve their situation and become less dependent on others (which not only cost them livelihood and dignity, it burdened the people on whom they must now depend).

Because legislators hold hearings to gain expert counsel concerning the consequences of their legislation, the likelihood that the yea-voting politicians were ignorant of the likely adverse effects of their law is vanishingly small. One must either believe that California’s Democrat legislators and governor were too stupid to know that their policy would cause ride-hailing companies to leave the state, or that those Democrats were smart enough to know the consequences of the law and that the law benefits them personally and costs the public. In light of the advantages to the politicians of the legislation, the second possibility is a near certainty.

Taxi company owners routinely buy protection of their businesses by making it worth politicians’ while to protect taxi companies from competition and other disadvantages. Compared to unprotected companies, protected companies can charge higher prices, make more money (even after they make campaign contributions to “helpful” politicians), and pay more taxes. With more campaign contributions, politicians can more easily retain power. With higher taxes, politicians can wield and gain more power by:

  • Subsidizing friendly companies and hamstringing their competitors,
  • Trickling extra money to the disadvantaged, downtrodden, marginalized, poor, and oppressed people of the state — while making sure to never trickle enough to enable those people to no longer be poor (being independent would eliminate their political usefulness to Democrat politicians).
  • Fund organizations that provide things Democrat politicians and their contributors enjoy, e.g., ballet, orchestras, opera, sports stadiums, universities that teach students to love social justice (as opposed to actual justice).

Perhaps saddest of all negative consequences is that by passing economically unsound but politically advantageous legislation, which purports to help people who will become the law’s victims, politicians can gain the adoration of economically illiterate people who irrationally believe laws that purport to do something will actually do that something.

The way out of this corrupt and destructive cycle is for voters to be better educated. Sadly, politicians are making it worth educators’ while not to improve economic literacy.


[ii]Why Uber and Lyft Are about to Shut Down All Operations in California

What’s Going On? – Part IV Black Lives Do Matter, Do-Gooders’ War On Poverty

This post adds yet another extreme example to the list of posts in this blog[i] that discuss well-intended, insufficiently informed people (“Do-Gooders”) advancing policies and ideas that do more harm than good for the people the Do-Gooders want to help. In Part III of this series, we identified the slate of positive trends that Do-Gooders could mess up. This post and the next few sort out how Do-Gooder’s ideas and policies both messed up the positive trends blacks were achieving and caused many of the problems that are fueling what is going on in the country.  Sadly, most of the policy prescriptions of today’s Do-Gooders are merely doubling down on the failed Do-Gooder policies of the past.

This sub-series focuses on the unintended negative consequences inflicted on blacks by Do-Gooders’ ideas and policies. The reason for the focus on blacks is not that those ideas and policies did not negatively affect people of other skin hues (they did). That focus is on black grievances because Black Lives Matters, a leading player in what is going on, is exploiting the failures of Do-Gooders’ ideas and policies.

The seminal Do-Gooders’ legislation that sent the country down the path that has resulted in the current black grievances and civil unrest is known as the “War On Poverty” (“WOP”) (not to be confused with Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which produced net positive results). The WOP opened a pandora’s box of calamities that beset blacks and were so consequential that it deserves a separate post.

While LBJ’s motivation for advancing the WOP[ii] was, in part, if not mostly for political advantage (to get blacks “voting Democratic for 200 years”[iii]), most voters who supported the WOP believed that its net effects would be positive for blacks. Indeed, it did bestow some benefits. However, as I have described in prior posts, [iv] its adverse impacts on blacks have vastly exceeded its benefits to blacks. Here is a summary of a few negative consequences inflicted on blacks by the WOP:

  • Stopped Robust Black Progress. Blacks were making tremendous progress socially, politically, and economically (closing the black/white income gap) until the WOP got up and running, at which point much of that progress stopped.[v]
  • Tore Black Families Asunder. Before the WOP, black babies were more likely to be born into two-parent families than white babies.[vi] The WOP turned poor fathers who wanted to live with their children into economic burdens on their families (stripping too many black men of a great source of meaning in life, denying their children the benefits of a two-parent family, and more). The negative impact on children of single parents can be grim.[vii]
  • Caused Poor Black Neighborhoods To Be Less Nice and More Dangerous.[viii] In the 1950s, “The interest in education [in black neighborhoods] was just profound… The moral standards and ethical standards for those people living in [black] communities was extremely high.”[ix] According to Trends in Homicide Among African Americans: “The phenomenon of extremely high homicide rates in the nonwhite population is not new. Since 1914, when national mortality data were tabulated for the first time by cause of death and race, death rates from homicide among nonwhite males have exceeded those for white males by factors as great as 13 to 1. However, this ratio steadily diminished in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s; and the ratio held fairly steady in the 1980s as the homicide death rates from each race-sex group declined after sharp increases in the 1960s and 1970s. [As the effects of the WOP set in.]” [Emphasis added.]  “As for ghetto riots, these were never as numerous, nor of such magnitudes of violence, in the 1940s and 1950s, as they became in the 1960s…”[x]
  • Raised Minimum Wages. The WOP ushered in a constant stream of raises in minimum wages,[xi] thereby disproportionately hurting the most unskilled laborers the most[xii] (by raising the bottom rung on the latter of success so high that the most unskilled could not get on the job training/get a start[xiii]).
  • Inflicted Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action (“AA”) inflicted the following disadvantages on blacks:
    • In the mid-60s, America’s top universities desired higher enrollment of black students. The most capable black students did not need AA to gain admission. AA, however, caused black students of every ability level to wind up in universities in which they were, on average, the least qualified to grapple with the curricula and required pace of learning.[xiv] Anyone finding themselves so outmatched is discouraging and debilitating and causes far too many highly-skilled blacks to drop out.[xv] Had those students been admitted according to the same standards as applied to all other students, they would have been admitted to universities in which they would have been much more likely to excel. On average, AA denied black students the inspiring the encouraging positive feedback of success and replaced it with the debilitating feelings of unworthiness. All of this led to disproportionately high dropout rates — not because they could not succeed, but because they could not succeed at the school that admitted them. That the admission of AA students advanced the interests of the school at the expense of the students adds insult to injury. That they continue to do it after they have witnessed the consequences is disgraceful.
    • Before AA laws, blacks who succeeded by overcoming the disproportionate disadvantages and hardships of being black in America were correctly perceived to be exceptionally capable, hardworking, and had more grit than most of their non-black peers. The ability to gain that status was watered down, if not denied, as a consequence of the presumed unearned advantages that AA implied.
    • AA created resentment, if not animosity among non-beneficiaries of AA who felt unfairly disadvantaged by AA,[xvi]
    • Employers knowing that an applicant or employee was aided by AA admission and, likely had grades boosted by teachers’ empathy or desire to avoid time-wasting hassles with students and the administration[xvii] rather than merit often evokes suspicion that the employee may not be as competent as her peers from the same school with the same scores. Such presumptions can lower the likelihood that the “beneficiary” of AA is hired or, if hired, create wariness and reluctance when critical projects are assigned to employees. Consequently, because effectively handling critical assignments creates the appearance of cream to rising to the top, AA “beneficiaries” who are equal in competence are likely to have fewer opportunities to prove their mettle,[xviii] i.e., rise to the top.
  • Slowed Economic Growth/Cost Jobs. Complying with the laws and regulations the WOP imposed on businesses tremendous costs, inefficiencies, and liabilities — thereby slowing economic growth.[xix] A consequence of the Economic Opportunity Act, capital and effort that could have been invested in activities that created wealth (which would have created faster technological innovation and job creation, and would, other things being equal, drive up the pay for low-income workers) were diverted into unproductive and unprofitable regulatory compliance. Black people are disproportionately poor and slower than necessary economic growth hurts poor people most.
  • Increased Dependency, Bigotry of Low Expectations, Hopelessness, and Grievances and Decreased Incentives, Motivation, and Efforts to Thrive. The massive negative effects of these phenomena will be discussed in a later post.

The WOP proponents touted it as a means to improve conditions, especially economic conditions for blacks. Instead, between 1959 and 1967 (the period immediately before the WOP kicked in) the percentage of blacks in poverty fell 29% (from 51.1% to 39.3%), fell to 34% in 1968, and then flat-lined for 25 years.[xx] Summing it all up in “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (p. 170), Jason Riley says, “…fifty years into the war on poverty the picture isn’t pretty. While gains have been made, significant racial disparities persist in some areas and black retrogression has occurred in others. The black-white poverty gap has widened over the last decade and the poverty rate among blacks is no longer declining.”

That Do-Gooders meant well and feel good about having tried is little consolation for the damage they inflicted.

For more information on the negative effects of the WOP, see: “How We Lost the War on Poverty,” “Poverty in the US Was Plummeting—Until Lyndon Johnson Declared War On It,” “The War on Poverty Wasn’t A Failure — It Was A Catastrophe,” and the citations in the endnotes.

[i] A few examples”

[ii]War on Poverty

[iii]Did LBJ Say, ‘I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for 200 years’?

[iv]Welfare Wreckage,” and “Where is the Empathy?” (See Author’s Note “🙛” for an extensive discussion of the damage done to blacks by the War On Poverty),

[v]What’s Going On? – Part III Black Lives Do Matter, The “Do-Gooders’” Slate,” “The Wage Gap — Thomas Sowell on the Economic Facts of Gendered and Racial Income Inequality” @10:47, and

“In the mid-1950s, black labor force participation rates for 16-year-old and 17-year-old males began falling below that of their white counterparts, and the gap grew wider in succeeding decades. For males aged 18 and 19, the same racial reversal in labor force participation rates occurred a decade later, in the mid-1960s. For males aged 20 to 24, that same racial reversal occurred at the beginning of the next decade, in 1970. The magnitude of the racial difference in labor force participation rates among males, after the racial reversal, followed the same pattern, being greatest for the 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds, less for males aged 18 and 19, and least for males aged 20 to 24.”

Sowell, Thomas. Discrimination and Disparities (p. 54). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

[vi]Thomas Sowell On The Myths Of Economic Inequality” @21:10

“[M]ost black children were being raised in two- parent families in 1960. But thirty years later after the liberal welfare state… the great majority of black children [were] being raised by… single parent[s].”

[vii]What Are The Effects On Children Of Single Parents?”: “The forum concludes that the consequences are a result of more limited social, emotional and financial resources. These findings are reinforced in Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, a book written by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur. According to McLanahan and Sandefur, children of single-parent households are at increased risk of dropping out of high school. In the book’s findings, boys tended to be idle and teenage girls had a greater risk of pregnancy. Overall, the chances of these children going to college were greatly diminished.”

[viii]Hard Fact about “War on Poverty,” and “Walter Williams: Up From the Projects

[ix]The 1950s Inner-city Black Communities Were Strong” and “PBS Documentary – The 1950s – Segment 2 of 3” @13:58

[x]Facts and Fallacies with Thomas Sowell” @9:03 and “Sowell, Thomas. Discrimination and Disparities” (p. 183). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

[xi]History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 – 2009

[xii]Why the Minimum Wage Is Bad at Reducing Poverty,” “Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt The Poor More Than They Help” and

Walter Williams: Suffer No Fools – Full Video” @15:28 and “In 2008 economists David Neumark and William Wascher published a book that surveyed the minimum-wage literature of the previous three decades. They reviewed more than one hundred academic studies on the impact of [minimum wage] laws and found ‘overwhelming evidence’ that younger, lesser-skilled workers suffer what economists call ‘disemployment effects,’ or loss of employment when the minimum wage goes up.”

[xiii] From Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks To Succeed. pg. 127 and “Race, Politics and the Minimum Wage”:

“The Even and Macpherson study finds that among whites males ages 16-24, each 10% increase in a federal or state minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5%. For Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2%. ‘But among black males in this group, each 10% increase in the minimum wage has decreased employment by 6.5%.’”

[xiv] From Justice Thomas’s dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, pg. 25

Race and Culture: A World View” 176 – 177 (1994) (“Even if most minority students are able to meet the normal standards at the “average’ range of colleges and universities, the systematic mismatching of minority students begun at the top can mean that such students are generally overmatched throughout all levels of higher education”).” [Some (e.g., Brookings) say things like, “There is very little high-quality evidence supporting the mismatch hypothesis…” Of course, that is the case. Too many professors know better than to even search for, much less publish the high-quality evidence supporting this self-evident fact.]

[xv]The Perversity of Diversity” and “Quotation of the day: Thomas Sowell on academic mismatch



 and “Thomas Sowell: affirmative action creates academic failure & resentment” @2:15 and “The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans.”

[xvii]‘Favors’ to Blacks


CONSEQUENCES FOR PERFORMANCE,” and “An Assessment of Affirmative Action in Business”:

“Moreover, research has suggested that there are several flaws with affirmative action that preclude its success as a practice. These flaws are not only limited to external strains that others impose on it, they also includes internal burdens that negatively affect the same individuals they claimed to assist. The beneficiaries of affirmative action are often stigmatized as incompetent and incapable (Heilman, Block & Stathatos, 1997). Externally, when an organization has an affirmative action plan or program, fellow employees assume that the individual only received the job on the basis of their demographic. The perception that such a beneficiary lacks qualification causes the targets of affirmative to be evaluated negatively, regardless of their actual performance (Leslie, Mayer, & Kravitz, 2014). Such external developments create a cycle that then perpetuates itself to the individual and his or her evaluation of him or herself. The individual then believes that they are not capable of doing their job properly. For one, evaluations of work performance that is completed by supervisors lack clarity (Heilman, Block & Stathatos, 1997). Thus, the individual, upon receiving the evaluation of their performance does not believe that they are able to succeed in the workplace because they are not fulfilling the organization’s performance standards. This further leads the individual to evaluate him or herself negatively. Their self-perception leads to a negative view of oneself and a lack of confidence to thrive in that given corporate environment.”

[xix]The Cumulative Cost of Regulations

[xx]Historical Poverty Tables: People and Families – 1959 to 2018Table 14. Distribution of the Poor by Race and Hispanic Origin   

What’s Going On? – Part III Black Lives Do Matter, The “Do-Gooders’” Slate

People who believe that black lives don’t matters deserve all the condemnation they get from their fellow Americans. Thankfully, however, racist Americans (people who believe black lives don’t matter, that blacks are inferior, or that blacks should not have all the rights afforded to every other American[i]) are few, almost universally scorned, and are mostly powerless.  Those people betray America’s founding principles and are a nuisance at best and horrible at worst.

As bad as racists are, the harm that white racists have done over the last 55 years is insignificant compared to the harm progressive white people (“‘Do-Gooders’’”) have done over that period and propose to do to black people. The motivations of politicians who “Do-Gooders” support are mixed (ignorant, self-serving, evil, or all three).[ii] Generally, “Do-Gooders” appear to be well-intended, mal-informed, and unaware of the harm their policies have and will inflict on blacks, especially poor blacks. Sadly, however, the pavement on the road to hell constructed by the “Do-Gooders’” good intentions is long and thick.[iii]

Sorting out the many ways in which “Do-Gooders” have harmed blacks will be the subject of future posts. First, realize that the “Do-Gooders’” havoc was mostly unleashed by “War on Poverty,”[iv] which was declared in 1964.[v] To see that havoc clearly, understanding the situation and trajectory of blacks in 1964 is very helpful. Let’s sort that out:

According to the Brookings Institution,[vi]

“…in 1944, most blacks lived in the South and on the land as laborers and sharecroppers. (Only one in eight owned the land on which he worked.) A trivial 5 percent of black men nationally were engaged in nonmanual, white-collar work of any kind; the vast majority held ill-paid, insecure, manual jobs—jobs that few whites would take. As already noted, six out of ten African-American women were household servants who, driven by economic desperation, often worked 12-hour days for pathetically low wages.

… with the shortage of workers in northern manufacturing plants following the outbreak of World War II, southern blacks in search of jobs boarded trains and buses in a Great Migration that lasted through the mid-1960s. [Blacks] found what they were looking for: wages so strikingly high that in 1953 the average income for a black family in the North was almost twice that of those who remained in the South. And through much of the 1950s wages rose steadily and unemployment was low.

Thus by 1960 only one out of seven black men still labored on the land, and almost a quarter were in white-collar or skilled manual occupations. Another 24 percent had semiskilled factory jobs that meant membership in the stable working class, while the proportion of black women working as servants had been cut in half. Even those who did not move up into higher-ranking jobs were doing much better.”

In “Discrimination and Disparities,” Thomas Sowell observed:

“[President Johnson’s] claim that only government programs could effectively deal with deep poverty was contradicted by the plain fact that the black poverty rate declined from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent in 1960…” (p. 183) Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

“In “America in Black and White,” authors Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom agree that the black middle class expanded well before “affirmative action.” The Thernstrom’s said, ” . . . The growth of the black middle class long predates the adoption of race-conscious social policies. In some ways, indeed, the black middle class was expanding more rapidly before 1970 than after…  Many of the advances black Americans have made since the Great Depression occurred before anything that can be termed ‘affirmative action’ existed. . . . In the years since affirmative action, (the black middle class) has continued to grow, but not at a more rapid pace than in the preceding three decades, despite a common impression to the contrary.”[vii]

Dean Kalahar, reported:[viii]

• In 1950, 72 percent of all black men and 81 percent of black women had been married.

• Every census from 1890 to 1950 showed that black labor force participation rates were higher than those of whites.

• Prior to the 1960’s the unemployment rate for black 16 and 17-year olds was under 10 percent.

• Before 1960, the number of teenage pregnancies had been decreasing; both poverty and dependency were declining, and black income was rising in both absolute and relative terms to white income.

• In 1965, 76.4 percent of black children were born to married women…

• Between 1960 and 1964, blacks were rising into professional and other high-level positions at a rate greater than the [following] five years…

Blacks were making tremendous social progress on many fronts, including an explosion in the popularity of black musicians, was achieved by blacks before 1965[ix] and, as Ebony Magazine put it:

“…events of [the 1950s] included U.S. diplomat Ralph Bunche winning the Nobel Peace Prize for successful mediation of Middle East Peace Talks between Arab and Israeli leaders. JET magazine, the weekly sister publication of EBONY, was born. The NBA color barrier was broken [having broken the MLB barrier in 1947 and NFL barrier in 1953]. Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago (whose story is chronicled in JET magazine) was kidnapped and murdered by White thugs while visiting Mississippi. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a White man on a city bus, kicking off the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Nat King Cole became the first colored man to host a national TV show in prime time, and Lorraine Hansberry became the first Negro woman to have a stage play, A Raisin in the Sun, produced on Broadway.”[x]

“In addition to addressing social and political issues in the ’60s, EBONY afforded its readers a bird’s-eye view of how “the other half” lived. It offered proof that the Black middle and upper classes not only existed but in some instances were thriving, providing hope of upward mobility to its readers.  The magazine continued to shine a spotlight on Black stars from film, television, stage, politics and sports. EBONY alone boasted covers featuring exclusively Black glitterati. Eartha Kitt, Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Bill Cosby and Muhammad Ali not only graced the covers of EBONY but also shared their lives and their hearts with readers, particularly as both related to the struggle of Black America.”[xi]

Perhaps their greatest accomplishment was that their message that they were not being treated fairly was resonating with a growing number of whites, was gaining traction with politicians and judges, and was producing positive results.[xii]

Those positive things are not to say that, in general, blacks were doing just fine. They weren’t. They were subjected to significantly more racism and discourtesy than today,[xiii] unfair obstacles, unequal justice, difficult living conditions, inadequate schools, insufficient education and job opportunities, exceptionally dangerous neighborhoods, and other disadvantages. Of course, neither a 47% poverty rate is fine nor a growing number of blacks thriving and being recognized for their accomplishments was good enough. Moreover, many of these gains were the result of many other hardships they had to endure, e.g., moving from the South to the North and starting over and little capital.

Improving the living conditions, education, and opportunities for blacks was necessary, important, and required by justice. So, encouraged by well-intended voters, intellectuals and politicians leaped into action. Sadly, they did not anticipate the multiple and compounding negative consequences of their policies. What they wrought made matters worse for blacks. For example, the chart below depicts how effective the “Do-Gooders’” War on Poverty was at reducing poverty.

Data Source

First, note that the opening act of the War on Poverty, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, was signed into law on August 20th.  It took years to get it organized and fully up and running. So, the continuation of the decline in poverty that was well underway when the act was passed was a continuation of the progress that was underway when the war began. Second, note that the War on Poverty put a halt to progress against poverty for 25 years. Giving people false hope and then dashing those hopes leaves people more hopeless and demoralized than had nothing been tried.

Data Source. Pg. 26

As bad as the flattening of progress looks, it hides the fact that blacks fared worse than the composite number reflects (and non-blacks fared better than the composite number.):

Over the twenty-five years following 1968, on average, the percentage of whites in poverty fell while the rate of decline of blacks in poverty flat-lined. We’ll sort out why that was in future posts.

[i] “Racist,” as used herein, refers to Merriam Webster’s definition. The more currently popular “definition” (read: erroneous application) of the word is something like “anything to which people of color object.” Such watering down of the word renders it largely meaningless. Worse, it unhelpfully takes the sting out of being called a racists.

[ii]Did LBJ Say, ‘I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for 200 years’?

[iii] “‘Good Intentions’ with Walter E. Williams

[iv]The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964,” “Food Stamp Act of 1964,” “Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” and the following programs: VISTAJob CorpsHead StartLegal Services and the Community Action Program

[v]Walter Williams: Suffer No Fools – Full Video” @8:20 & @41:13

[vi]Black Progress: How far we’ve come, and how far we have to go

[vii]The Progress of American Blacks

[viii]The Decline of the African-American family

[ix]African-American History Timeline: 1960 to 1964

[x]The Colored People of the 1950s: Black History from the Pages of EBONY

[xi]The Blacks of the 1960s: Black History from the Pages of EBONY

[xii]Brown v. Board of Education,” “Gayle v. Browder,” “Civil Rights Act of 1957,” “Federal troops are sent to Little Rock, Ark by Dwight Eisenhower to enforce the desegregation of Central High School,” “Civil Rights Act of 1960,”  “The Civil Rights Act of 1964,” and “Voting Rights Act of 1965

[xiii]Racism in 1950s, ’60s was normal, accepted, insidious