Moynihan of the Moynihan Report

This was written in 1966. What has changed since? Have things improved in the black community with the government’s assistance?

Moreover, the Moynihan Report noted that first-graders without fathers in the home have I.Q.’s 7.5 per cent lower than those with fathers and that, in central Harlem, where a majority of the children are fatherless, the median I.Q. of sixth-graders is only 86.3. A sub-average I.Q. Moynihan suggests, almost inevitably leads to a bad performance in school and, more often than not, to an early dropout. And, Moynihan further suggests, in America’s increasingly technological and automated society, the uneducated, especially the Negro uneducated, are the unemployed. In fact, the rate of Negro unemployment is today nearly double the national rate.

All in all, then, Moynihan sees the predicament of the American Negro male as a vicious circle. He is born either illegitimate or into a home where his mother has been deserted or divorced by his father; he later, in consequence, does poorly in school and ultimately drops out; and when he reaches young manhood he then joins the vast army of Negro unemployed. And, being unemployed, he can’t afford to support a family, and thus he, too, fathers illegitimate children or, after a try at marriage, either deserts or divorces his wife, leaving behind sons to grow up as wretchedly as he grew up. As Moynihan sees it, the only way to break this circle is (a) to create new Federal, state and local government jobs for Negro males and (b) to make it financially advantageous, rather than disadvantageous, for the Negro man to remain with his family.

Ironically, in regard to (b) the Aid to Families of Dependent Children program, a New Deal welfare measure which was part of the Social Security Act, has, in Moynihan’s opinion, been a major force in the past 30 years in the breaking up of American Negro families, for the program has provided Federal welfare money to indigent families only when the father has died, is disabled–or has deserted his wife and children. Thus, since only the broken family can get A.F.D.C. help, it is often true that if an unemployed or low-paid Negro father deserts his family, its members will be economically better off than they were when he was around, a paradox that has led Moynihan to describe the A.F.D.C. program as “a form of social insanity.”

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