For decades, the accepted political discourse has argued that black people are being put down by the force of racism in American Society, by conservatives (based in this country's legacy of slavery), and the Republican Party. These indictments are fatuous in too many ways to count.
Let’s start with the term "black." What does that mean? Young dark-looking children (in order to avoid using the term "black") live in South Los Angeles, yet many of them do not consider themselves African. Of Belizean descent, many of them view their primary ancestry with South America. Other men and women of African descent come directly from African countries, or from the West Indies, or other nations. Those individuals from the West Indies espouse different cultural and ethnic values unlike the those born and raised in the United States. The issues which make all the difference touch on class, not on race. Class has more to do with their skills, traditions, and values learned and appropriated over time. West Indians descend from ancestors raised in nations with a slave past, too, much like the United States. Yet unlike American slavery, West Indians had to grow their own food and engage in their own business practices to care for themselves because there were not enough white people to keep them dependent. The American slavery system was based on keeping slaves incompetent and dependent as much as possible, a legacy still present today.
The connections between the slave past and the impoverished present for blacks depend on this connection of dependency. However, academics still posit that the demise of the black family started with American slavery, because the peculiar institution would permit a slave master to break up married slave couples. Oftentimes, an ordained minister would read "till death or sale do you part". Slavery was an evil blight on American History, one which was removed with great political turmoil and bloodshed. Yet the notion that the primacy of the mother in black families today stems from the demise of the family in Ante Bellum America has neither style nor substance to its argument.
Yet race-baiting activists today would charge that the legacies of slavery still persist in our communities. The facts are much different. From the end of the Civil War until the 1920s, black communities thrived in spite of prejudice and Jim Crow. Celebrated African-American academic Thomas Sowell reminded his viewers in one episode of "Firing Lines" that the literacy rate among African-Americans exploded from nil to fifty-percent from the end of the Civil War until the early 1900s. This massive transformation of success and growth was not the result of government action, by the way, but in spite of government repression, since Jim Crow de jure segregation was rigorously enforced against African-Americans, and not just in the South.
Institutional racism or affirmative action cannot limit a man's capacity to improve his lot. In fact, Sowell later discovered that in societies with persecuted minorities, those same individuals may lose key political privileges, yet their traditions and skills promote them to quality jobs and financial success. Such was the case for the Chinese in Malaysia and the Lebanese in Sierra Leone (and Mexico, where the wealthiest man alive, Hugo Slim, is of Lebanese descent). The same holds for the United States, where African-American statesmen like Booker T. Washington refused to feel sorry for themselves, in spite of share-cropping and de jure discrimination. Booker T. Washington succeeded through hard work, established universities, and even advised Presidents.
Regarding Republicans and conservatives as the source of black repression, the first African-American activists were Republicans, not Democrats. The argument that the Republican Party has been the source of black repression for one hundred fifty years ago is just not true. The first popularly-elected Republican US Senator was Edward Brooke of Massachusetts. Currently, the only black US Senator is Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina. Recently, Elbert Guillory, state senator from Louisiana, joined the Republican Party, along with Ralph Washington, a city councilmember from Central City, Louisiana. As State leaders of African descent in the South are switching to the Republican Party, minorities in Washington number greatly with conservative causes.
Then what has caused the breakdown of the black a man and his family in our generation? Not slavery, not past prejudices, where Civil Rights Movements pressed against the indoctrinated cultural hatreds yesterday; not the Conservative movement or the Republican Party. Look to the Democratic Party, and you will see the cause. From Woodrow Wilson, who purged blacks from the White House, to Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who said: "We’ll have those n-ggers voting for us for the next two hundred years", there we find the policies which advanced state-sponsored welfare, which enabled failed education systems, which bolster race-baiting minority politicians, which have harmed African-Americans. As the government increased its handouts, expanded welfare, and enabled individuals to remain dependent instead of growing in grace and prosperity, so African-Americans have suffered instead of prospered.
Thankfully, Lyndon Baines Johnson's invidious prophesy has become short-lived by one hundred fifty years. Today, African-Americans are experiencing a turn for the better.