Correct Diagnostics Needed

November 18, 2020 Updated: November 22, 2020


You present to a physician with severe abdominal pain. He examines you and concludes that your ingrown toenails are the cause of your abdominal distress. He prescribes that you soak your feet in warm water but that doesn’t bring relief to your abdominal pain.

Then, he suggests that you apply antibiotics to your feet. Still no relief. Then, the physician suggests that you wear sandals instead of shoes. Still no relief. The point of this story is that your toenails can be treated until the cows come home, but if there is an improper diagnosis, then you are still going to have your abdominal pain.

The former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen, last year said, “White students are nearly 4.5 grade levels ahead of their black peers within Atlanta Public Schools.” In San Francisco, 70 percent of white students are proficient in math; for black students, it’s 12 percent—a gap of 58 percent. In Washington, 83 percent of white students scored proficient in reading, as did only 23 percent of black students—a gap of 60 percent. In Philadelphia, 47 percent of black students scored below basic in math, and 42 percent scored below basic in reading. In Baltimore, 59 percent of black students scored below basic in math and 49 percent in reading. In Detroit, 73 percent of black students scored below basic in math and 56 percent in reading.

“Below basic” is the score a student receives when he is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and grade-level skills. How much can racism explain this? To do well in school, someone must make a kid do his homework, get a good night’s rest, have breakfast, and mind the teacher. If these basic family functions aren’t performed, it makes little difference how much money is put into education the result will be disappointing.

In 2019, the racial breakdown of high school seniors who took the ACT college entrance exam and met its readiness benchmarks was 62 percent of Asians, 47 percent of whites, 23 percent of Hispanics, and 11 percent of blacks. That helps explain a 2016 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce “African Americans: College Majors and Earnings.” It found that black college students were highly concentrated in lower-paying and less academically demanding majors like administrative services and social work. They are much less likely than other students to major in science, technology, engineering, and math, even though blacks in these fields earned as much as 50 percent more than blacks who earned a bachelor’s degree in art or psychology and social work.

James D. Agresti, the president and co-founder of Just Facts, has just published an article, titled “Social Ills That Plague African Americans Coincide with Leftism, Not Racism.”

Agresti writes: “Among all of the afflictions that disproportionately impact people of color, violence may be the worst. In 2018, blacks comprised 13 percent of the U.S. population but roughly 53 percent of the 16,000 murder victims.”

The clearance rate for murders, where a suspect was identified and charged, declined from 92 percent in 1960 to 62 percent in 2018. For example, in Chicago, the clearance rate fell from 96 percent in 1964 to 45 percent in 2018. In Baltimore, the 2019 clearance rate was 32 percent. In 2015, when Baltimore experienced the highest per-capita murder rate in its history, the average homicide suspect had been previously arrested more than nine times. When crimes remain unsolved, it gives criminals free rein and black people are their primary victims.

By the way, most law enforcement occurs at the local level. The governments at these local levels are typically dominated by Democrats.

According to statistics about fatherless homes, 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes; 71 percent of pregnant teenagers lack a father figure; 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes; 71 percent of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes; and 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions have no father. Furthermore, fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to end up in jail.

Thomas Sowell has argued, “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

The bottom line is that while every vestige of racial discrimination has not been eliminated, today’s discrimination cannot go very far in explaining the problems faced by a large segment of the black community.

Walter E. Williams, Ph.D., is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax. Author of several books and recepient of many awards and honors, he currently sits on several boards of directors and advisory boards, including the Hoover Institution, Grove City College, Cato Institute, Institute of Economic Affairs, and the Heritage Foundation.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.