Liberals, can we talk about marriage?
No, not same-sex marriage. It’s clear you strongly believe that should be a constitutional right, as do I. But there’s another marriage discussion that you’ve been largely avoiding for, well, 50 years.
In March 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan sounded the alarm about the breakdown in marriage rates among African-Americans — and was excoriated by his fellow Democrats, who never quite forgave him for “blaming the victim.” But it’s impossible to read the Moynihan report today without thinking of the underlying conditions in Baltimore that gave rise to last week’s riot:
The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated… So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.
The situation didn’t just persist. It got much worse. In 1963, 24 percent of black children were born out of wedlock, compared with 3 percent for whites. The share of white children born out of wedlock has since jumped to 29 percent. But the figure for blacks is now 72 percent.