outside of marriage (although there may be a small effect on whites ). The rate of out-of- wedlock teen childbearing, for instance, has nearly doubled since 1975 despite the fact that the real dollar values of welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid has fallen. Contrary to popular belief, mothers on welfare have, on average, slightly fewer children than other mothers. Although the statistics can be confusing, it is important to understand that although the rate of single-parenthood has increased dramatically in the last half century, the rate of births to unmarried black women aged 15-24 (the "non-marital fertility rate") has remained constant . Which is to say that the problem is not that single-parents are having more children but that so few women marry. Single-parenthood in the ghetto, of course, is self- perpetuating. Almost all of the female role models in ghetto neighborhoods are single mothers, and young women see few other options. Adolescent children of single mothers are more likely to be school dropouts, to receive lower earnings in young adulthood, and to be recipients of welfare. The single mother can exert less control over adolescents (especially young men), so peer values toward sex, pregnancy and marriage more easily become the norm. It is only a short step to a "culture of poverty" in which single- parenthood is the socially accepted norm. Crime and Violence The joblessness of the ghetto and consequent poverty, the low level of education and consequent hopelessness, and the segregation and consequent alienation from white, middle-class norms create a fertile field for nurturing workers in the drug trade. Young men can earn more in hours than their peers in low-paying jobs can in weeks. Children are recruited as "runners" because of their relative immunity from prosecution, and mothers with no other source of income can look the other way when their sons come home with gifts of money, food, clothing, and other needed items. With the drug trade, of course, comes violence. The vastly increased availability of weapons, including sophisticated, high-powered guns, sent the murder rate skyrocketing in the inner cities during the eighties and early nineties (although they began decreasing significantly in the mid-nineties). As guns became the accepted way of resolving disputes in the drug trade, more and more people uninvolved in drug trafficking acquired them and began using them, sometimes for protection, sometimes to resolve their own disputes. These weapons, however, have terrorized the wider community. As Geoffrey Canada writes so compellingly, 20 physical violence has long been a way of settling disputes within the ghetto. Before the proliferation of the guns, however, this violence was dependent on physical strength, the organization of the gangs, courage, and so on. The violence was a way of establishing a pecking order and therefore actually stabilized the neighborhood. With assault weapons, however, it takes little courage and no strength or
skill, so anybody can kill anybody. The violence is now a terrifying destabilizing force.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 40 pages?