Windy City Silence: The Truth Behind the City’s Youth-Crime Spree Remains Unspoken

Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, October 1, 2010

The Daley dynasty in Chicago may be giving way to the Obama-Emanuel political machine, but one thing remains constant in the Windy City: youth violence and a collective refusal to acknowledge its root cause. On the one-year anniversary of the beating death of a Chicago teen by his fellow students, Chicago remains in denial about the driving factor behind such mayhem: the disappearance of the black two-parent family.

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Chicago’s South Side marked the anniversary of Albert’s [16-year-old Derrion Albert, whose murder was captured on cell-phone video in 2009] death with a Parent Resource Exposition, organized by the Black Star Project, a black empowerment group. The purpose of the exposition was to link up parents–i.e., single mothers–with social-services and health programs that allegedly would keep their children away from gang life. {snip}

Fenger High School, where Albert and his killers had been students, held a peace rally in the cafeteria, attended by Albert’s grandfather. “We’re doing this so this never happens again,” he said. “We’re making it so we can start getting along together. {snip}” The Chicago Sun-Times editorialized: “It’s up to all of us–to be better parents, to be better neighbors, to reach out to a child in need.”

Such vacuous sentiments, while well-intentioned, are utterly beside the point. “The enemy” attacking Chicago’s young people is not a nameless force but something quite specific: the disappearance of paternal responsibility. All five of Albert’s suspected killers, as well as Albert himself, came from fatherless families. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators and victims in Chicago’s four-decades-long juvenile murder spree have come from single-parent homes. In Cook County, 79 percent of all black children were born out of wedlock in 2003, compared with 15 percent of white children; the black illegitimacy rate in inner-city Chicago is undoubtedly higher still. {snip}

{snip} But as long as the norm in black communities is for boys and men to father children without raising them, the killing will continue. No amount of government or even voluntary social-services program can compensate for the disappearance of the black family. Without a marriage norm, boys have little incentive to develop the habits of self-discipline and deferred gratification that make a male an attractive and capable lifetime husband and father–and that also inoculate him against a life on the streets. {snip}

{snip} But holding a government-subsidized job is not the precondition for staying away from crime. Nor does the availability of jobs guarantee that boys will become law-abiding adults and responsible fathers. The reality is often the opposite: males are pushed to seek and hold stable employment by the expectation that they will have to support their children as in-home fathers and husbands.

In every American city, the disproportionate black-illegitimacy rate is matched only by the disproportionate black crime rate. In Chicago, blacks, at least 35 percent of the population, commit 76 percent of all homicides; whites, about 28 percent of the population, commit 4 percent. In New York City, blacks, 24 percent of the population, commit 80 percent of all shootings; whites, 35 percent of the population, commit less than 2 percent of all shootings. The black illegitimacy rate in New York is over 78 percent; the white illegitimacy rate in the city is 7 percent. The national rate of homicide commission for black males between the ages of 14 and 17 is ten times higher than that of “whites,” into which category the federal government puts the vast majority of Hispanics.

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