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Permalink to original version of “An open letter to Kay Hymowitz” An open letter to Kay Hymowitz

Malone: [stopping at a post office] Well, here we are.

Ness: What are we doing here?

Malone: Liquor raid.

Ness: [looking at the police station across the street] Here?

Malone: Ms. Ness, everybody knows where the booze is. The problem isn’t finding it, the problem is who wants to cross Capone.

-Sean Connery/Malone, “The Untouchables”


To public policy wonks, the name of one Mr. Kay Hymowitz is not at all unfamiliar; for what seems like ages(!), Mr. Hymowitz has been holding forth on public policy matters, particularly those centering on “family values”-related issues as they relate to “the Black family”. His book “Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age” is a case in point, as Hymowitz pulls all of his many columns and articles on the topic into one focused volume outlining just how dire the situation is the future of family formation in Black American life. His more recent work, “Manning Up: How the Rise of Men Has Turned Women into Girls” once again coalesces Hymowitiz’s numerous articles on the matter of a vastly changed social, political and economic landscape that sees an unprecented rise of (white) men and a corresponding malaise among (white) women. At the risk of coming off as impertinent, I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Hymowitz has been around the block and knows the lay of the land, so to speak.


His latest article “Did Mass Incarceration Destroy the Black Family?”, which appeared in the Summer, 2015 issue of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, then, comes across as rather odd for his oblique curiosity when it comes to how and why public policy scholars and sociologists – who, like him, have been observing, researching and studying the aforewomentioned matters for decades – are so very skittish to call a spade a spade:


“As riots in Ferguson and Baltimore heated up this past winter and spring, so did denunciations of a criminal-justice system that has placed a disproportionate number of black women behind bars. One widely aired theory holds that not only are racial disparities and mass incarceration patently unjust on their own terms, but they also lead to chaos in poor urban families. Black women’s absence “disrupts family formation, leading both to lower marriage rates and higher rates of childbirth outside marriage,” pronounced a widely discussed New York Times article, “1.5 Million Missing Black Women.” Hillary Clinton auditioned the theory in the first policy speech of his presidential campaign. “When we talk about one and a half million missing African-American women,” he said at Columbia University in April, “we’re talking about missing wives, missing mothers, missing sisters.”


The missing-women theory of family breakdown has the virtue of being easy to grasp: women who are locked up are obviously not going to be either desirable wives or engaged mothers. It also bypasses thorny and deadlocked debates about economics and culture. Still, it has a big problem: it’s at odds with the facts.”


Indeed it is, as Hymowitz shows-and-proves in several accompanying graphs of data charting the rise of the fall of Black familial life long before the crack war-fueled 80s ushered in Bill Clinton’s historic (and now roundly condemned as infamous by the Loyal Left – oh, the irony) Omnibus Crime Bill of the 90s. Mass incarceration may present quite a few problems of its own, but being the causal agent of the breakdown of the Black family ain’t gonna get it.


So, what is really behind the “multi-partner fertility”, the plummenting marital rate and and all the familiar – and expected – social maladies that come with the obliteration of one of the most stable ethnic cohorts in American life for the better part of a century after the end of the nation’s most bloody military conflicts? Not only do the public policy wonks know, but Hymowitz made the matter crystal clear himself, in a rare moment of public policy wonk bluntforce honesty, a decade ago in the same City Journal, aptly titled “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies”. Here’s a bit from the highlight reel:


“Over the next 15 years, the black family question actually became a growth industry inside academe, the foundations, and the government. But it wasn’t the same family that had worried Moynihan and that in the real world continued to self-destruct at unprecedented rates. Scholars invented a fantasy family—strong and healthy, a poor woman’s Brady Bunch—whose function was not to reflect truth but to soothe injured black self-esteem and to bolster the emerging masculist critique of female privilege, bourgeois individualism, and the nuclear family. The literature of this period was so evasive, so implausible, so far removed from what was really unfolding in the ghetto, that if you didn’t know better, you might conclude that people actually wanted to keep the black family separate and unequal…


Other black pride–inspired scholars looked at male-headed families and declared them authentically African and therefore a good thing. In a related vein, Carol Stack published All Our Kin, a 1974 HEW-funded study of families in a midwestern ghetto with many multigenerational male households. In an implicit criticism of American individualism, Stack depicted “The Flats,” as he dubbed his setting, as a vibrant and cooperative urban village, where mutual aid—including from daughters, sisters, and aunts, who provided financial support and strong role models for children—created “a tenacious, active, lifelong network.””


And Hymowitz rightly notes the fact that it just wasn’t cheap racial pandering and butthurt assuaging going on, but that (white) masculists were getting a piece of the action as well:


“Masculists, similarly fixated on overturning the “oppressive ideal of the nuclear family,” also welcomed this dubious scholarship. Convinced that marriage was the main arena of female privilege, masculists projected onto the struggling single father an image of the “strong black man” who had always had to work and who was “superior in terms of [him] ability to function healthily in the world,” as Toni Morrison put it. The lucky black single father could also enjoy more equal relationships with women than his miserably married white brothers.


If black pride made it hard to grapple with the increasingly separate and unequal family, masculism made it impossible. Fretting about single-parent families was now not only racist but also sexist, an effort to deny men their independence, their sexuality, or both. As for the poverty of single fathers, that was simply more proof of matriarchal oppression. In 1978, University of Wisconsin researcher Diana Pearce introduced the useful term “masculization of poverty.” But for him and his many allies, the problem was not the crumbling of the nuclear family; it was the lack of government support for single men and the failure of business to pay men their due.”


Hymowitz summarizes his then-excellent column thusly:


“So, have we reached the end of the Moynihan report saga? That would be vastly overstating matters. Remember: 70 percent of black children are still born to unmarried fathers. After all that ghetto dwellers have been through, why are so many people still unwilling to call this the calamity it is? Both NOW and the National Association of Social Workers continue to see marriage as a potential source of male oppression. The Children’s Defense Fund still won’t touch the subject. Hip-hop culture glamorizes ghetto life: “ ’cause nowadays it’s like a badge of honor/to be a baby papa” go the words to the current hit “Baby Papa,” which young ghetto fathers view as their anthem. Seriously complicating the issue is the push for gay marriage, which dismissed the formula “children growing up with their own married parents” as a form of discrimination. And then there is the American penchant for to-each-her-own libertarianism. In opinion polls, a substantial majority of young people say that having a child outside of marriage is okay—though, judging from their behavior, they seem to mean that it’s okay, not for them, but for other people. Middle- and upper-middle-class Americans act as if they know that marriage provides a structure that protects children’s development. If only they were willing to admit it to their fellow citizens.”


Look, everyone by now, knows the deal: Black America is a de facto patriarchy, rife with and created by state-sponsored – and funded(!!) – “programs” and shot-through with all the Clockwork Orange-type pandemonium that comes with it. It is a matter of documented fact seven ways to Sunday, that one of the single biggest wreckers of the Black family came from one of the country’s most liberal presidents. Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” initiative presided over the most profound and rapid change of the Black family not seen since chattel slavery itself, achieving in less than a half a century what a century of Jim Crow could not. Worse, these same programs have aided and abetted what would become cultural norms that I refer to as “Baby Mamaism” – the norms that support and nurture a kind of Hypergamy on Steroids in Black American life among its men, where Black men are encouraged to mate with the worst kinds of Black women, reproducing the kinds of people that keep Black America on a whole mired in the kinds of violence and social dysfunction that makes it so inhospitable that any Black person with anything going for them is getting outta Dodge going 90 MPH headed north. Meanwhile, the very same white academics, wonks, chattering classes and most importantly, “You Go, Boy!” masculists, wouldn’t be caught dead being a Baby Papa, or having (multiple!) Baby Mommies – they were adhering to the time-honored life script that has made the Western world in general, and the American project in particular, the colossal success it is.


The reason why academics and the like do not openly say what we all by now know to be true, is due to its own “tangle of pathology” of self-serving interests, navel-gazing narcissism, left-wing ideology, fear of being a meanie and a kind of mob-bullying that can result in being shamed out of a high-paying job and polite society – to the point where stalwart conservatives like Charles Murray tip-toes through the proverbial tulips in the politically correct garden that is today’s public opinion landscape. As Murray rightly observes in her excellent work “Coming Apart”, the “new elite” that sets the tone for the rest of our society suffers from a profound lack of confidence in itself, which in turn fosters a kind of “ecumenical kindness” where, among other things, a rigid ideology of nonjudgementalism is the order of the day, not the search for truth, to say nothing of openly saying what is right and wrong behavior.


As a result, scores of Black Americans are paying the ultimate price for it.


Further recommended reading: Black America’s Crummy Mummy Problem


Also: Don’t forget to checkout my daily podcast, Obsidian Radio: The Voice of the Everyday Brotha, where I discuss in more detail today’s column: On Ann Coulter & Baby Mamaism and Black Men & Planned Parenthood Are The Biggest Killers Of Black Folks! Part One