How can we stop backsliding toward inequality?.. Let’s take that statistic about the decline in poverty among black men. It comes from an excellent report by Bradford Wilcox and others at the American Enterprise Institute. As their report clearly shows, the vast bulk of that decline happened between 1960 and 1975. If you look at poverty data since 1980, there’s been little progress, either in black men moving out of poverty or into the middle class... The recent famous study co-produced by Raj Chetty points to an elemental truth: There is still a strong, steady societal wind pushing against African-American men. Those born into poverty are much less likely to be able to climb out than their counterparts in other races. Those born into affluence are much more likely to fall down the income scale over the course of their lives... When it comes to segregation, the story is even worse. One of the things we’ve learned over the past decades is that place really matters — the nature of your neighborhood and surroundings.
American neighborhoods are desegregating slightly, but the situation is worse for children. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be residentially segregated than minority adults.
.. Schools are resegregating, too. The percentage of black students who are attending schools that are 90 to 100 percent minority went down in the South in the 1970s and 1980s, but now is shooting up. In the Northeast, the percentage of black students in these schools has been climbing for decades.
Even the workplace is showing signs of regression. Big companies are still reasonably integrated, but newer, smaller businesses are more segregated, often largely white, black or Hispanic.
.. But conservatives are right to point to the importance of bourgeois norms. Three institutions do an impressive job of reducing racial disparity:
- the military,
- marriage and
As the A.E.I. study shows, black men who served in the military are more likely to be in the middle class than those who did not. Black men who attended religious services are 76 percent more likely to attain at least middle-class status than those who did not.
.. the general presence of fathers — not just one’s own — in the community is a powerful determinant of whether young men will be able to rise and thrive.
We’ve fallen into a bogus logjam in which progressives emphasize systems of oppression and conservatives emphasize cultural norms. Both critiques are correct. If we’re going to do something about this appalling retrogression on race, we probably need to be radical on both ends.