Monday, October 3, 2011

Marriage and Race; Marriage and Prison

I've just read a couple of articles that  mention marriage and its significance in two different contexts.  One of the articles is in the current issue of National Review and the other is an old clipping that I had squirreled away in a folder.  Taking the latter first, the author is George Gilder writing in the Wall Street Journal in 1995.  He's drawing a connection between a book that he wrote, Visible Man:  A True Story of Post Racist America, and a book that Dinesh D'Souza wrote, The End of Racism.  Apparently, both writers come to the conclusion that white racism was not a "significant problem" for blacks in recent American history.  

What Gilder says is a problem for blacks is the fact that young black men are not socialized through marriage.  To quote:  "The key problem of the underclass--the crucible of crime, the source of violence, the root of poverty--is the utter failure of socialization of young men through marriage.  The problem resides in the nexus of men and marriage."  Gilder goes on to point out that attempts to  address the problems of the underclass all focus on the women!  That leaves the men to indulge in being "predators" rather than "providers," and, in many cases to languish in prison.  He gives the statistic that 40% of young black males between ages 17 and 35 are in prison or on probation.  

Writing some 15 years later, Mitch Pearlstein  says that research shows that married men are less likely than single men to break the law.  He isn't concerned with race.  Some of his statistics:

  • Across the country, studies consistently show that more than 40 percent of low-income men who father a child out of wedlock have already been in jail or prison by the time their first son or daughter is born.

  • One in four black men born between 1975 and 1979 had experienced imprisonment by 2009. The comparable ratio for white men was one in 19. The chance of having been imprisoned for black men in this cohort who had not graduated from high school was two in three.

  • As of 2000, about 25 percent of black men between the ages of 22 and 30 were married. Among incarcerated black men, the marriage rate was less than half of that, 11 percent.

  • With praises for the book, he references The Case for Marriage, citing a study which showed that marriage was a significant factor in the lives of those men who "reduced" their criminal activity.   Pearlstein is looking for solutions, especially in the area of hiring and jobs, so that criminals can get back on their feet without being condemned forever by their past  records.  That makes sense--save as many as you can--but we also have to tackle the root of the problem which, whether pertaining to black or white, is a welfare society, a feminized society, a libertine society  that has permitted the so-called wonders and privileges of sexual liberation, secularism and feminism to trump the institution of marriage.

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