Moynihan Revisited and the Ongoing Black-Poverty Debate

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African Americans are still impoverished nearly 30 years after a controversial report inspired the phrase "blaming the victim," Kenneth Braswell writes at Ebony.

A few weeks ago, Fathers Incorporated, Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement and the Urban Institute held a research forum to reexamine a controversial report by the Department of Labor's 1965 assistant secretary of labor, Daniel Moynihan. The Moynihan Report, titled, "The Case for National Action: The Negro Family," set off a barnstorm of criticism by Black scholars at the time of its release due to Moynihan's conclusion that African American poverty and political inequality were the result of a Black community "pathology" and the absence of nuclear families. The popular phrase, "blaming the victim" was first coined by sociologist William Ryan as the title of his 1971 book criticizing Moynihan's dismissal of the role of institutionalized racism in the plight of Black families in poverty.  Today, as Black families are deeper in poverty than ever in the wake of the recession — as they say, when America catches a cold, Black America catches the flu — Black scholars at the Moyniham Revisited forum debated whether Moynihan was right about the dismal future of Blacks in America due to the breakdown of the nuclear family. 

Nearly 50 years ago, the Moynihan Report documented the absence of men from Black families and their failure to uphold their responsibilities to protect and provide. While one might suppose that money is not the only thing needed to contribute to a healthy family, reality suggests that financial security is surely a huge factor. According to the Moynihan Revisited report, today, one out of six black men who want to work can't find work and is unemployed. Thus, is it any wonder that the Black nuclear family is under stress?


Read Kenneth Braswell's entire piece at Ebony.

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