The Inconvenient Truth About Ghetto Communities’ Social Breakdown

Thomas Sowell, National Review, May 5, 2015

Among the many painful ironies in the current racial turmoil is that communities scattered across the country were disrupted by riots and looting because of the demonstrable lie that Michael Brown was shot in the back by a white policeman in Missouri–but there was not nearly as much turmoil created by the demonstrable fact that a fleeing black man was shot dead by a white policeman in South Carolina.


In a world where the truth means so little, and headstrong preconceptions seem to be all that matter, what hope is there for rational words or rational behavior, much less mutual understanding across racial lines? When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of “us against them” that was more popular. That vision is nowhere more clearly expressed than in attempts to automatically depict whatever social problems exist in ghetto communities as being caused by the sins or negligence of whites, whether racism in general or a “legacy of slavery” in particular. Like most emotionally powerful visions, it is seldom, if ever, subjected to the test of evidence.

The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century. Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s. You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.

We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact–for those who still have some respect for facts–black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Murder rates among black males were going down–repeat, down–during the much-lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families. {snip}

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization–including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility, and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain–without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large. {snip}

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Dave West

    I’ve brought up these exact same points in arguments with libtards; it’s at this point when I get called a ‘fascist,’ ‘bigot,’ or a……………. “RACIST”! I don’t mind being called a fascist or a bigot, but it just really destroys me when I get called a racist, not!

    • Jason Lewis

      Keep saying it!

    • HJ11

      Hello, Brother Racist. It is wonderful to be a White Racist. It means that we have a stronger sense of who is us and who is not us and in knowing this, we are less likely to go extinct. I was born as a White racist. It is as much a part of me as my maleness and other characteristics that I was born with.

    • JohnEngelman

      When someone calls me a racist I make it clear what I do believe, and that I do not mind being called a racist. I do not believe in white supremacy. I do believe that racial differences are significant, that they have political implications, and that they are genetic.

    • TrueNorthFree

      I am a raging racist. LOL.
      It doesn’t hurt my tender feelings when loony lefties call me that name online.
      I have also been called bigot, xenophobe, fascist, etc.

      • TCA

        Anyone with common sense and an unobstructed view of the facts is a racist. I don’t run from the label either.

    • archer

      The article assumes that the gov. is actually trying to fix the problem, when it has invested trillions in destroying society. I can’t believe things have gotten this bad without a game plan.

  • dd121

    The capacity of the left to lie to themselves about blacks never ceases to amaze.

    • Cheri Rodriguez

      Blacks and browns were a lot more civil before they got their “civil rights.”

      • dd121

        I agree. They’d all be better off if they didn’t believe the leftist propaganda the left feeds them.

  • Speaking of, the professional liar that made up “hands up don’t shoot” out of thin air, Dorian Johnson, is playing the ghetto lottery against the City of Ferguson and the Ferguson PD.

    • dukem1

      Did the elections held recently in Ferguson provide the BRA -style government lib pundits seem to think is required?…If so, I’d say Mr. Johnson will be on his way to Disneyland soon….courtesy of those YTs there who still own property worth taxing.

      • Those elections turned out to be a big flop for the handsupdontshoot crowd. There was only one of their bunch that actually won, and ironically, it was not from the ward which contains the Fergaza Strip and all the sacred sites. Furthermore, the ward which does had by far the lowest turnout.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Therein lies the problem. We will not, certainly in my lifetime, witness a rational discussion regarding race in this country. And most whites know this. The minute they advocate for personal responsibility, for maintaining standards, they will be labeled “racist” and the discussion will end. The “default” position for many blacks is just that. When someone points out an uncomfortable truth to them they resort to this term. It’s not only going to be a long summer but a long decade.

    • David Ashton

      A good observation, but hopefully you might be mistaken about the time-line.

    • And, my favorite, “You don’t understand what it is like to be black in America!” That seems to be their last ditch “argument.”

      • TrueNorthFree

        What would be a good reply to that, I wonder?
        Maybe: “I understand a good work ethic, intact families and holding yourself to a high standard of behavior”.
        And when they reply by calling you a racist, simply repeat the same words (I call it the “broken record” technique – it is very useful when dealing with idiots.

        • Lexonaut

          Instead of going into broken record mode, which is simply a waste of time, assume the conversation is over in any meaningful way and instead ask this question …

          What is a racist and why is it bad to be one?

          You won’t win the resulting argument but you’ll have more fun than you would if you simply repeat yourself.

  • When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of “us against them” that was more popular.

    I’ve been trying to figure out why that case has suddenly been buried and soft pedaled, when I think it’s a far more questionable matter, even though I think it’s going to be all but impossible to get a conviction against Slager for any violent felony charge. Why are some cop-on-black killings made into international incidents while others are hushed up? Why is Scott-Slager being stuffed down the rabbit hole, why don’t most people know that 27 of 74 Waco victims were black, (I didn’t even know that until a few weeks ago), but Michael Brown and Freddie Gray become worldwide household names?

    I think Scott is being forgotten because he was wanted on child support matters, and black women predominate both the black media and blacks in the mainstream media, and black women aren’t about to risk giving up the child support bludgeon they can use against black men. As far as Waco, well, it involved Federal law enforcement agents, and a Democrat President, and you figure that people like Jackson and Sharpton didn’t want to run the risk of hacking off Bill Clinton.

    • Whitetrashgang

      Very interesting,I watched a Movie on Waco and I don’t remember one black.

    • awb

      27 black’s? Damn, I did not know that! First I’ve heard

      • I have known for a long time that:

        (1) Some supposed “KKK” group demonstrated on the side of the FBI and ATF in Waco, because:

        (2) The Branch Davidians advocated race mixing and wanted to be a rainbow coalition.

        Until a few weeks ago, I was not aware of how successful they were i that pursuit.

  • David Ashton

    The corruption of welfarism, white guilt, liberal prejudice, revolutionary leftism, and black fecundity. Old Booker Washington knew better.

    • Bossman

      Booker T. Washington had high hopes for the newly freed slaves. He believed that they should read a lot of books and acquire useful skills.

      • IstvanIN

        And blacks today totally disrespect him.

        • Epiminondas

          They don’t even know what century he was born in.


        “He believed that they should read a lot of books and acquire useful skills” – Pheff,,, sounds like a typical racist to me.

  • And I would like to add, black behavior has got really worse since the election of our first “African American” president, in 2008!

    • Dave West

      It’s because so many black people simply believe in magic. In 2008 black people believed Obama would pay their mortgage, give them money, and take down ‘evil whitey.’

  • TomIron361

    I actually wonder about the survival of blacks. While they seem to be on top of the situation, not far below the surface, they are in a very precarious place. All hands are turned against them. The Asians, mexicans and Whites don’t like them. If at some point, they make a fatal error, their whole house of cards could come down on them and nobody could or would stop it.

    • mikes2653

      They are much more fecund than whites. It’s basically a different survival strategy. Whites in modern industrial societies have barely enough children to maintain population levels, if that. They nurture them carefully and try to prepare them for the future. Blacks farrow huge litters with the expectation that some will die. This is true not only in Africa, where infectious disease accounts for many, but here in the US where juvenile blacks die disproportionately as a result of criminal violence.

      They will have no difficulty surviving. There will be a sort of Gresham’s law applied to populations. The bad will drive out the good; the black will drive out the white. Europe is being inundated by Africans.

      • Illidan Stormragge

        Mormons are pretty fecund and also successful. It’s more of a cultural thing. White people have more access to condoms, birth control, abortions, marry later, try not to have kids outside of marriage, not want to overpopulate the earth, individualistic and are less and less religious in many parts.

        • “White people have more access to condoms…”

          That’s one of the silliest things I’ve ever read here. Urban schools usually give those away for free, and the message about condom use has been broadcast loud and clear by the Center For Disease Control and various public health departments for the last 30 years.

          • Illidan Stormragge

            Whatever, they’re more likely to use condoms.

      • JohnEngelman

        Black fecundity is only a workable reproduction strategy when whites pay for all those illegitimate black children. White generosity will not last forever.

        • Whether and when white generosity eventually expires, it can not be afforded forever.

        • mikes2653

          This is perhaps true in the U.S., but look at sub-Saharan Africa. Blacks there are reproducing rapidly despite the real poverty squalor of their countries. A portion of the excess population is now heading north across the Mediterranean in a manner resembling scenes from “The Camp of the Saints.” It is one of the most massive migrations since the fall of the Roman Empire. If whites in Europe refuse to be generous, these Africans will simply take from them by force.

          • JohnEngelman

            If they keep pushing us far enough we can fight back in win. In a war intelligence matters more than physical aggressiveness. The white minority in South Africa could have subdued the black majority indefinitely if it was not for international pressure.

            Whites in the American South could have done the same if it was not for the pressure of Northern whites.

        • Rossbach

          Given current demographic trends, mightn’t this generosity be succeeded by extortion?

      • Cato

        I like your Gresham’s law analogy. Differential fertility rates matter–a lot–both within populations and between them. Someone–it might have been Charles Murray, or even Richard Lynn–pointed out that educated black women in the 1950s and 1960s had almost zero fertility. (that’s the within component). But blacks as a whole have fertility rates much closer to whites than to Latinos. Latinos are producing lots of children, and the effects are clearly visible in places such as Riverside, California. (the between component).

    • Illidan Stormragge

      Blacks are not in a good spot. They are mostly poor and have lower life expectancy. The problem is they drag down whites with them. If the US ever has a serious economic SHTF moment then blacks would likely be the first to perish because of their awful financial situations.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      Blacks in Africa are in a precarious place too. Their population has increased to a level dramatically above what they are capable of sustaining on their own. If whites stop sending them free food and medical care there will be a die-off the likes of which Africa has never seen.

      • Rob

        That is why I never donate to Africa or to stupid white charities that support non white population growth. We are only funding our own destruction by feeding these people.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    There is a body of work called ‘transactional analysis’- done by an army psychologist in the 50’s. Name of Eric Berne. Wonderful stuff. He has a list of ‘games people play’- set ups for drama so that people can fill their needs for intimacy. in a fast paced and fast changing industrial society that is becoming ever more global, whether you like it or not, intimacy is hard to come by. But people still need it. So they start drama and sharing the drama with someone provides it. Kinda like the hellenic catharsis or Huxley’s two minutes of hate. Only Berne’s games are diverse and shockingly very patterned.

    The SJW and the more assimilable blacks respond to Mike Brown and Freddie Gray because that’s a way to play a game called ‘uproar’. They don’t respond to the SC shooting because there is no drama there, only consensus. Logic is for Vulcans, we are human after all.

    The rioters themselves riot because that’s their nature. But they keep their eyes on the others for a sense of what they can get away with.

    And having dissed other black intellectuals in a post on another story, I must say I do find much worth considering in the writings of Thomas Sowell in general. Kind of a fan.

    • Lexonaut

      “I must say I do find much worth considering in the writings of Thomas Sowell in general. Kind of a fan.”

      He’s a good economist of the Chicago School (Milton Friedman) who has a knack for explaining things and who just happens to be black.

      • Usually Much Calmer

        Yes, his knack for explaining things is what I like about him.

  • TheCogitator

    I grew up in the South. Back in the 50s, blacks knew what would happen to them if they got out of line. Force is all they understand.

    • Rhialto

      Exactly! Blacks have excellent social perceptiveness, and are socially aggressive. When the Liberal-Feminist coalition defeated normal White men and gained control of America, the Blacks realized that it was “go time” for Blacks. They proceeded to take advantage of their opportunities for looting and insemination.

  • Dave West

    Blacks already have big enough misunderstandings as it is regarding how things work, policing, and ‘the system.’ When topics, such as, ‘micro-aggressions’ and ‘institutional racism,’ are brought into the mix it’s worse than adding gasoline to an oil fire.

  • Zimriel

    This is, of course, exactly what Buckley had said in National Review back in the 1950s. When John Derbyshire reminded this magazine of that, he got thrown out on his ear.

  • Alexandra1973

    So we had slavery. Big deal. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    If blacks were so noble as we’re led to believe, they would prove themselves noble instead of making cities into the jungle.

  • American Tax Payer

    Dear Moderators,

    That link I provided is a PDF from HUD. It’s their “strategic plan” for our communities for the next few upcoming years. Please post it!

    • Posts with links are held for moderation to make sure they are free of tinfoil hat material.

      • American Tax Payer

        Oh, okay. Well, not that I expect y’all to trust me, but, trust me. I would never do that. Anyway, Thank You!

      • Rob

        What exactly would you classify as Tin Foil Hat Material?

  • American Tax Payer

    What happened to my post? What was wrong with that HUD Report? It’s from the government and it’s current. What’s the problem?

  • Cato

    Glorifying the Civil Rights Movement is a big part of the problem. Too many intelligent young blacks believe that the best thing they can do with their lives is to become “social justice” activists. It would be a far, far better world were they to just focus on their own families.

    • Epiminondas

      Civil Rights was a signal that whites were guilty of something, and that whites “owe” blacks. A certain tribe was largely responsible for interpreting the law in that manner because they are also good at this “you-owe-me” game. Until whites refute guilt publicly and call out their opponents, this will go on until we are destroyed as a culture.

  • JohnEngelman

    black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

    – Thomas Sowell, National Review, May 5, 2015

    When white supremacy was the consensus, blacks tried to emulate whites. Some of the efforts were sad, like hair straightening and skin lightening. Most were valuable, like getting married before having children, and obeying the law.

    Even black popular songs tended to be romantic. Contemporary rap music is about sex and violence.

    Before the civil rights movement blacks tried to act white. Beginning with the civil rights movement white youth have tried to act black. Blacks have behaved even blacker. The result has been a wave of decadence.

    • Diversity Heretic

      You make good points, as does Thomas Sowell. But how can we ever get back to an updated (and possibly more humane) version of 1950s America, with black dysfunction at tolerable levels? Can it only be done by de facto or de jure dissolution?

      • Lexonaut

        Not every problem has a solution. Liberals created the problem but it doesn’t follow that they can fix it, especially because they have no incentive to fix it. The toothpaste is out of the tube … and they’re in the business of selling toothpaste.

        Advocates of small government with no free rides and no affirmative action would, if given the reins of power, have a fix — but the nation would not survive the resulting race war, just as it’s not likely to survive what’s going to happen this summer and next — not in any meaningful sense of the survival of a civilization.

        So …

        “Can it only be done by de facto or de jure dissolution?”

        That’s probably the case. Jared Taylor is quite right — separation of the races is the only solution. For me the question is how to get there without having a revolution and, regrettably, I don’t see a way.

      • JohnEngelman

        The first task is to make it safe to publicly discuss black social pathology. American Renaissance does that by its existence.

        The internet facilitates the spread of facts and ideas. Some of the ideas are nonsense, like those one finds on Tim Wise’ website, or Stormfront. You can find any opinion you are looking for on the internet. You can find assertions that are just simply not true. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that in the free market of opinions truth eventually wins.

        It is important to keep in mind that it only became fashionable to lie about racial differences after the Second World War. Revelations about the Holocaust made people want to believe that racial differences did not exist, or that they were unimportant.

        It is ironic that the Holocaust made people unwilling to acknowledge that inferior races existed. The Holocaust was directed against the most superior and accomplished race in existence.

    • carriewhite64

      Also, before the civil rights movement, Americans had the courage to judge harshly the behaviors we deemed deviant and harmful to the common good and unity. Now we give all behaviors the same moral value, no matter how illogical, destructive, or self destructive they are.

    • Epiminondas

      “Some of the efforts were sad, like hair straightening and skin lightening.”

      They still do this stuff. You have seen photos of Michael Jackson? Black women wearing red and blonde wigs is a common sight.

  • JohnEngelman

    It is unfortunate that only blacks are allowed to criticize blacks. I doubt that even National Review would have published this article if it had been written by a white person.

  • Lexonaut

    I’m 71. When I was in my early 20s, the per capita rate of black business ownership was four times what it was today, and black unemployment then was lower than white unemployment is now. There was no affirmative action so you knew — knew — that any black professional you might meet had to have a lot on the ball. There weren’t many of them but the ones who had gotten there had met the same high standards as everyone else.

    When I explain these things to black people on other sites, I’m usually told that I’m dreaming, that there was never a time in America when this was the case, and that my attempts to peddle this nonsense simply prove that I’m a racist.

    This was also a time when kids who failed school years were routinely left back and often put into warehouse classes so they wouldn’t slow down the ones who wanted to learn and actually could.

    How sad.

    • Cindy

      It is sad. It proves how history is constantly being re-written to serve political agendas. The lying never stops
      It’s interesting that the quote on the home page for this site is:
      “There is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”
      ~Thomas Jefferson~

  • superlloyd

    I tend to believe that blacks have exempted themselves from the requirements of civilisation. After all, they have been provided access to all the pathways to success on very generous terms. Only a tiny minority have had the intelligence and self discipline to actually take advantage of these opportunities e.g. Thomas Sowell.

    The liberal left apologists for black dysfunction are post event rationalisers of inherent black failure and incapacity, as the Great Society was hoped to be a solution to the White man’s burden by these very same people or their forbears: The problem has been exacerbated by these people with their litanies of marxist excuse making but the problem is essentially of the black man’s making. History teaches us that blacks have never created civilisation and can’t even maintain it when gifted to them as in post colonial Africa.

    Complete segregation or repatriation to Africa is the only logical solution to the White man’s burden.

  • Once again, I’m going to blame television advertising, which seems to place a value on one’s life according to the expensive garbage one buys. The message from Madison Avenue is “You gots ta be haben dat shiny ting”, and dim-witted folks with zero impulse control who have constantly had their racial grievance pots stirred get irate when then don’t be haben dat.

    This might be an over-simplification, but really, if advertising didn’t work, would it be such a huge industry? What are N’DeSimian and LaCreature going to think when they are endlessly told that they need a new BMW and that it’s my fault they don’t have one? The fact that the only new car I’ve ever bought was a Saturn – back in 1995 – won’t occur to them.

  • Epiminondas

    And whites were not shy about kicking black a$$es when they needed to.

  • Eagle1212

    Seeing these neighborhoods and their people committing crime is actually depressing when you see it. These people are also to blame because of not behaving like civilized citizens and working and also having role models educate them well but instead go the opposite direction and do what they want to their hearts content.

  • Northern American-Nationalist

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it many more times to come: Race matters, but culture matters too. They are not mutually exclusive of course, but their relationship is not one where one necessarily begets the other.