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WSJ: Racial Discrimination No Longer Biggest Barrier to Black Economic Advancement

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley, a prominent black conservative, wrote in a recent column [1]that racial discrimination is no longer the biggest barrier to black economic advancement — an argument that is widely ignored in the mainstream media.

“No reasonable person denies that racists still live among us or that racial discrimination can retard upward mobility,” Riley writes.

“Still, evidence of racial bias in the past or the present is not proof that racism is responsible for current social disparities. After all, the pathologies we see in low-income black communities aren’t confined to those communities. As Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam wrote in 2017, ‘The white working-class family is today more fragile than the black family was at the time of the famous alarm-sounding 1965 “Report on the Negro Family” by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.’”

Riley pointed to social science data showing the single parenthood has a strong impact on black poverty and unemployment rates, another factor largely ignored by the mainstream media.

“Liberals who insist that racial discrimination largely explains the black-white wealth gap are ignoring other plausible explanations,” Riley continued. “Black poverty and employment today, for example, seem to be more a function of family formation than of white racism. For more than 20 years, black married couples have had poverty rates in the single digits, and black married men have had a higher labor-force participation rate than white men who never married. According to The Wall Street Journal, last year the labor-force participation gap between blacks and whites virtually vanished, the first time that’s happened since 1972. Systemic racism may be ‘in the air we breathe,’ but black unemployment rates are at generational lows.”

Riley pointed out that liberals–aided by their mainstream media allies–are pushing a false narrative about opportunity and welfare.

“Government programs are no substitute for the development of human capital,” Riley concludes. “If wealth-redistribution schemes lifted people out of poverty, we would have closed these gaps a long time ago. Liberal politicians and activists have little interest in addressing the ways in which black behavioral choices impact inequality. It’s easier to turn out voters and raise money by equating racial imbalances with racial bias and smearing political opponents who disagree. Will it work in the end? It didn’t for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Telling people what you think they want to hear can be easier than telling the truth, but you also risk insulting them. And blaming bad outcomes among blacks on the malevolence of others is not only wrong but insulting to Americans of every race. This isn’t 1950. Attitudes have changed. Behaviors have changed. American neighborhoods and schools and marriages are more integrated. We elected a black president twice, and he won several of the nation’s whitest states both times. Racism has probably never been less significant in America, and blacks have never had more opportunities to seize. Liberals are pushing a narrative that many white voters don’t recognize and that many black voters know is false.”