Thursday, October 4, 2007

Just blame racism.

If you want to know what turns me off about soft-headed liberalism, read this post by law professor Christopher Bracey at BlackProf.com. The title: “Racism and Infant Mortality.”

On the matter of children dying during infancy, “the death rate for black babies is more than double the rate for white babies,” Prof. Bracey writes.

Between 1995 and 2002, the infant mortality rate for African Americans was nearly 14 deaths per 1,000 live births. For whites, the rate was about 6 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“For years researchers remained puzzled as to the root cause of this disparity,” Bracey writes. “One of the leading causes of infant mortality among African-Americans is preterm birth. Neonatologists also agree that stress is an important risk factor because it initiates the release of stress hormones leading to preterm birth...”

So then, if “stress” contributes to the high black infant mortality rate, what’s causing all the stress?

Must be the “Big R.” Naturally.

According to Prof. Bracey: “A new series of studies from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ Health Policy Institute, along with a small but growing number of neonatalogists nationwide, suggests that the stressful effects of racism play a role in creating this infant mortality disparity.”

Stressful effects of racism like what?

Bracey cites a UCLA researcher who says “the disproportionately higher number of fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, lower number of grocery stores and the higher cost of fresh produce in many urban, predominately black communities caused poorer pregnant black women to make stressful choices about what to eat and where to live.”

(Stressful choices about what to eat?...)

Then there’s “the higher crime rates in these communities and worries about sending children to poorly equipped, understaffed schools,” Bracey writes. Is all this “part of a trend of racial inequality that’s stressful to some poorer black expectant mothers”?

The professor concludes with this stark question: “If racial inequality is literally making us sick if not killing us outright, what can and should be done?”

All right now, let’s back it up. Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that “stress” is indeed a contributing factor to the disproportionate number of black babies dying. What’s missing from Prof. Bracey’s list of possible stressors?

There’s Mickey D’s, poorly equipped schools, crime... what else? What else might add to the stress of pregnancy?

How about being UNWED? Sounds pretty stressful to me... knocked up outside the security and stability of a marriage.

Everybody knows about the huge racial disparity in illegitimacy rates. In 2002, 23 percent of white women’s babies were born out of wedlock, compared with 68 percent of black women’s babies.

Could illegitimacy be a contributing factor to infant mortality?

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute cited an interesting set of statistics from 1960. It compared infant mortality rates for “legitimate and illegitimate births.”

For whites in 1960, the infant mortality rate for out-of-wedlock births was 33 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with about 22 deaths per 1,000 for marital births.

Similarly, for “non-whites” in 1960, the infant mortality rate for out-of-wedlock births was about 51 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with about 38 deaths per 1,000 for marital births.

I’m no expert on neonatology, and I’m not drawing any conclusions about anything. I just want to know why Chris Bracey, the Harvard-educated law professor and avowed liberal, didn’t even mention marriage or single motherhood in his blog post about racial disparities in infant mortality?

My guess is that the default position of leftists is to blame social forces, blame racism, blame the white man, blame America for any problems facing the black community. Leftists do not like to bring “personal responsibility” into the discussion.

If more black babies than white ones are being born prematurely and dying in infancy, that cannot be due to any choices or behaviors by black females themselves. No no no, they are helpless victims of the “stress” of living under a system of “racial inequality.”

That’s the kind of bullshit excuse-making that prevents black people from having an honest conversation about anything... especially the high murder rate.

27 comments:

Bay Radical said...

So, I get your point, but I'm curious then what you think the causes are of different rates of marriage for black and white mothers? Isn't that also caused by social factors? Do you think those factors are simply issues around personal responsibility? Or are there external pressures which impact how able an individual is to maintain a marriage?

Undercover Black Man said...

I don't think it's all or nothing, BR. I'm just bugged that a lot of liberals just leave "values" and personal responsibility out of the conversation totally.

Yet when it comes to raising their own children, I wonder how many liberals teach their kids that society owes them something, and they don't owe society anything.

Values matter. Talk to any black people whose families have risen into the middle class or higher... and I'm certain that a big part of that success would be a devotion to the values of education, law-abidingness and work.

If someone doesn't internalize the values of education, law-abidingness and work... what can the state possibly do to ensure them a prosperous life?

SJ said...

Even though I am a pretty big liberal, I agree with you. It's almost as if the concept of personal responsibility doesn't exist among the left. Which is one of the things I like about Obama, he stresses personal responsibility quite a bit.

In a country like the US where people from all corners of the world come to study, work hard, and be successful, for me it's a bit hard to fathom how people who grow up here don't take advantage of so many of the possibilities.

Son of Slam said...

Remember, correlation does not imply causality. I'm not sure how forcing someone to marry because they have a kid is going to increase survival rates.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ How about urging folks to marry before getting pregnant? That could help, right?

Worth a try anyway.

Rottin' in Denmark said...

It would be fun to test Prof. Bracey's theory on other groups that have high levels of 'stress'. CFOs, maybe? High-level athletes? Medical students? If this is simply a matter of stress, than the black infant mortality rate should pale in comparison to the Pennsylvania miner infant mortality rate, for example.

Bar Radical's on to something, though. The unwed-mother rate is really just shorthand for a bundle of other factors, all of which are just as correlational as anything else in the real world. People who wait until they're married to have kids probably tend to be a little older, richer, have better eating habits, actually plan the pregnancies, etc.

Also, there's a wonderful Australian expression, "Happy as a bastard on Father's Day", to indicate that someone's depressed. It'd be a good title for someone's research paper, anyway.

mistersquid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mistersquid said...

bay radical has already said it but it is worth repeating that lower rates of marital births for blacks compared to whites may be due to social pressures. Also, access to adequate prenatal care is important and access to health care in the US probably skews across race. None of this mentions that the US has one of the highest rates of infant mortality among industrialized nations.

Your indignant reaction, undercover, to Bracey seems a bit much. While attributing higher infant mortality among blacks to racism may seem, on first blush, like an evasion of personal responsibility, many of the real factors which contribute to this disparity are likely exacerbated by long-standing and continuing racism which directly and indirectly affects access to the resources which would improve a baby's chance to survive.

Marcus said...

I'm wondering,UBM, what are your thoughts about the high murder rate in the black community?

Undercover Black Man said...

Welcome, mistersquid. Thanks for commenting.

My indignant reaction to Prof. Bracey's post springs from my belief that it is self-defeating, disempowering... poisonous even... for black people to walk around blaming racism, blaming whitey and blaming America for everything that's fucked-up in the black community.

Because if that were the case, what could black people to bring about different outcomes? Not a goddamn thing... except beseeching white people and America at large to fix it, since it's all their fault.

Undercover Black Man said...

Marcus wrote: I'm wondering,UBM, what are your thoughts about the high murder rate in the black community?

I think it's the crisis of our time, Marcus. A hundred and fifty years ago it was slavery; 100 years ago it was lynching; 50 years ago it was Jim Crow.

Now, it is a culture of violence and criminality -- embraced by black people -- that makes homicide the No. 1 cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 34.

Why are we talking about anything else? Some asshole hangs a noose anywhere in America, it becomes national news. But nobody is willing to break the national silence about homicide.

odocoileus said...

It's the elephant in the living room. The sh** piles higher but nobody wants to talk about where the sh** is coming from.

The real question is, What do you propose to do about it?

Having a kid is one of the most self actualizing, empowering things a poor black woman can do. It isn't just about getting extra checks, though that's usually part of it. It's about having an instant family, and making yourself the most important person in the world to at least one other person.

It's also about having a permanent tie to the unavailable man of your choice. The thug, the dealer, the man married to someone else, the pro ballplayer, the good looking stranger who's just passing through.

If these women can't have kids til they're married to husbands who'll support them, then their choices are limited. They'll have to forgo the interesting, attractive, dangerous men and go with the less attractive schlubs. Or not have kids at all.

Like the girl says in Biz Markie's "The Vapors":

"Get real, baby, you work for UPS!"

Marcus said...

Who sponsors this culture of violence and criminality in black people? And are blacks the only ones who have such a culture?

IMO violence and criminality are part of human nature. I've come to this conclusion because I have never ever heard of any society anywhere that didn't have a problem with criminals. No matter how harsh the penalty is people will commit crimes.

I have another question who started this culture of violence and criminality or who let it get this far?

Most black are not criminals, regardless of what your conservative friends like to believe.

Another question is 50 years a long time ago to you? I'm 31. Doesn't seem that long ago to me. Do you believe black people should have been able to prevent this culture of violence and criminality developing since they had no real power over the last 50yrs?

neptune said...

Shelby Steele, is that you?

Oldie but not so
goodie.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, while I think racism is not the only problem, it is a big part of the problem. I don't think getting married is a magic solution to infant mortality, either. Having children out of wedlock does not "cause" children to die before birth.

I think a lot of the problem is how we are socialized and our environment. Sometimes, black women lack access to good prenatal care. That has to be a factor. Why the lack of access? Are you uninsured (Even working eople can be uninsured)? Are OB-GYNs sparse where you live? What information have you had? Under what circumstance did your mother have her children, and what did she explain to you about sex, contraception, pregnancy and childbirth?

What about biology? So far, no one has been able to explain why black women die disproportionately from breast cancer. Could there be somehing genetically or biologically that increases the instances of infant mortality, too?

Like most things, I don't think there is a simple answer. I am liberal, I DO think that someone's values make a difference in what kind of life your children can expect to have. I DO wish more people would wait until they are stable to have children. I think that some people who are stable financially still shouldn't have children. Just because you can afford them doesn't ensure you'll be teaching your kids good values. But I don't believe that "be married, then have babies" is the answer to the infant mortality question.

Undercover Black Man said...

Marcus wrote: "Do you believe black people should have been able to prevent this culture of violence and criminality developing since they had no real power over the last 50yrs?"

Marcus, with respect, your argument is rooted in a position of weakness. Black people do not have the power to affect the quality of life in black neighborhoods?

If you believe that, and you believe that white people are to blame for everything that's wrong in black America, then you must believe that only white people can fix it. That puts activist-type black folks in a position of devoting most of their energy and rhetoric to asking/demanding/beseeching white folks to change, for white folks to do something, for white folks to fix what's wrong... or, at least, to pressure white and black folks not to even bring up such embarrassing subjects as the black homicide rate.

I urge you, Marcus, to critically examine the orthodoxy of black-activist politics.

RC said...

This is the type of post that we usually end up disagreeing on, UBM, but in this case I will say that the Prof has put forth a number of decidedly unscientific theories and on that basis, not his real or imagined politics, I would have to laugh at his theories just as I would laugh at most of what I read that emanates from your entertaining Irish embarrassment pal, Mr O'Reilly.
I think the facts have to be examined a whole lot more before theories can be advanced and your erudite positing of some interesting statistics about marriage would be part of that wider analysis.
That said, for me, personal values are everything, what the government can or will do for me means nothing, I place no faith there for reasons of experience which we can skip over here.
Furthermore, since a formal declaration of marriage is a function of the government and the religious establishment, and since I am an anarchist in the sense of having no interest in ceding a hierarchical power to the government over myself and my community, I also have never been and will never be married.
Yet my three children are profoundly independent of me and of the governments of the countries where they live. Additionally, my granddaughter is remarkably healthy and way above the usual developmental mean despite being born at home.
I think the jury is definitely still out on the exact reasons for the high mortality, but, the Prof and also yourself are far from offering any kind of thorough research into all the factors and your drifting into accusing the guy of the crime of being progressive instead of accusing him of being a sloppy scientist or no scientist at all, is a disservice.
Finally, the murder rate you refer to several times later in the comments is indeed a national disgrace and I share your outrage as indeed I also am very alarmed by both the general infant mortality rates in the US and those of various subgroups. We shall avoid here pointing out policies of the Federal Government that have exacerbated the social weaknesses that you are indicating, but sincerely, there are very many persons of every race in the US that need some serious help in the health department and for those who do believe in government involvement {I am not one of those}
there is certainly a great deal that the Congress and the Presidency could do to improve the US health system.
Meanwhile, maybe we should be reading some more posts about personal responsibility. No argument there.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks, RC. Interesting to get a deeper sense of your political philosophy.

My dragging Prof. Bracey's politics into the equation had less to do with the specific topic at hand (infant mortality), but with a general impulse on the left to avoid to whole factor of personal responsibility and values.

Take it easy.

Marcus said...

LOL white people have proven that they are not capable of fixing anything so no I'm not saying crime in black communities is a problem for the white man to fix.

I believe it is way to simple of an argument to state racism had nothing to do with the current state of violence in the so called ghetto.

All this outrage about people killing other people, which by the way has been going on a long, long, long time. Any ideas of what should be done to protest people killing other people?

Personally I think it will take some time for the people who take responsibility for raising their families with values as you put it to over come the folks that have little regard for their lives and the lives of others.

I believe this has already started and it wasn't because of the help of white people.
As an aside you seem to insenuate that blacks don't pay taxes or something with your asking for help from whites nonsense lol

Seems like to me the only consistent request blacks make is for the white officers to not beat/kill them at a drop of a hat and for a fair and balanced application of the justice system.

Also it seems you believe that the violent criminal represents blacks as a whole when in realty they are a small number that get a whole lot of attention.

Thordaddy said...

The high infant mortality rate amongst black women probably has much to do with the high proportion of abortion amongst black woman. Hardly anyone can argue against the deleterious effects of an abortion on future pregnancies.

Thordaddy said...

Another possible reason for a high black infant mortality rate is not a lack of prenatal care but an excessive reliance on the "expertise" of birthing doctors and nurses. There are many practices and procedures that seem to defy commonsense when it comes to the birthing process in Western medicine.

Anonymous said...

I am perplexed by all this. Augusta Georgia is basically a 50/50 racial split yet Blacks cannot get political power nor effect any social or economical changes. There is a large outspoken 'blame the white man' population but a white republican got elected mayor. go figure.
Of course the white man was only running against 5 black people. Gee, wonder how he won????
There is a theory that there is always a struggle in black Augusta for who will be King of the Negroes. Meanwhile 29% of Blacks live below the poverty level.

Anonymous said...

I am enlightened by all your posts.
What can I do as a white person to bridge the racial divide?
I'm just a working class stiff without any power. I cannot keep anyone down nor probable help anyone up. Paycheck to paycheck is my lot. Keep the kids fed and a roof over their heads is what my wife and I do.
I see many people of all races better off financially than me and many worse off.
Is it all about money??
I love my family and we have plenty family on both sides of our marriage. That is where I get happiness and support and most of all love. I wish everyone had it as good as me. I wouldn't trade any of it for money....however, money is nice to have. I am guessing about that.....:-)

Latimer said...

You know... there's an easy statistical correlation method that could answer that question easily... just compare the infant mortality rates with the residential locations, marital status, eating habits, and financial situation of the black women... then compare that information to other races and BAM! A statistical correlation is made.

If only there was someone economist who specializes in correlation...

rhames123 said...

Race have nothing to do with the problem in the black community it a problem within them self.Sample i ahve seen mother come to my daughter school cursing at the teacher becouse they try top correct the child.So when they do this that telling the child well hey i'm right.So who the blame white no you are stop pointing the finger becouse the over populated blacks in the country as we speak and as for every child born there is couple hundred die from gun violence so who we going to blame for that white wrong blame yourelf.

Diego said...

Augusta Georgia: Investigative Reporter Scott Hudson of WGAC radio wrote the following and is interested in feed back regarding the article.
It Must Be Said...by Scott Hudson wgac@wgac.com
Sheriff Ronald Strength and law enforcement from the local level all the way up to the federal level celebrated the largest gun and drug bust in Georgia history recently. That bust has stirred some interesting conversation. Rather than the debate being about the fact that 70 or so thugs are off the streets, people are now blaming the police for racial profiling. Yes, it is true; all of the gang members rounded up are black. That fact is something that breaks my heart.

Normally, I would quote someone else or cite a study or a statistic, but in this case I can speak as an authority. My senior honors thesis in college was about racial reconciliation in the American south. To complete that thesis, I took dozens of courses in history, African-American history, sociology, and research methods. I interviewed people and conducted research projects. I am sure what I am going to say here will rub some the wrong way, but someone has to say it.

There are differences between Americans of African and European decent. In other words, black and white folks are different and the differences are cultural. The differences happened over the centuries. Some of the cultural differences came from the fact that culture in Africa was drastically different from what the enslaved people encountered when they reached this continent and others evolved from the elements of life over time. The enslaved Americans did everything they could to preserve their customs in the face of their hardship. For example, black people tend to find unusual or unique names for their children. This can be traced back to the continent of Africa. In practice, a child was not named until after it had lived a solid week. It was the father that named the child, and it was considered the greatest gift (aside from creating the young life) that he bestowed, and it was considered a solemn duty before God. The importance of naming in African-American culture survives to this day.

Another cultural fact revolves around cooking food. In college, while working in a restaurant, I noticed that the black people I served almost always ordered steaks well done. Curious to this, I conducted a case study to determine why one segment of our local society behaved in a manner consistently when other segments did not. My results were that somewhere around 98% of African-Americans in Augusta order their steak well done. Now, this was only a study conducted in Augusta, so it cannot be considered empirical since it was not a nationwide study conducted on a basis that pinpointed exact national origin. The fact remains that Americans of other noticeable decent rather than the continent of Africa order steak everywhere from raw to medium to burned. The next step was to determine why this difference exists and we came up with two theories. One theory maintained that black people were culturally engrained to cook meat thoroughly because slaves would not have received the best cuts of meat and therefore to avoid illness always cooked their food well. That theory was dispelled after research concluded that slaves typically ate the same food as that prepared for their white owners. Also, there were plenty of poor free whites who certainly could not afford fine cuts of meat and our research showed non-blacks ordering steak in all levels of temperature.

The other theory took us back to Africa. In traditional customs we studied, people believed everything living had some semblance of a soul. Food was considered a gift from whatever the source, animal or plant. Before consuming, the living soul should be fully released, hence the desire to never see blood. It was disrespectful to the food to not fully cook it and an affront to the God that provided the food. This theory, rooted in fact, held up to scrutiny. One segment of society behaves in a consistent manner based on a deeply engrained cultural practice. Those results mean nothing to the average person, but to researchers like myself, it was an explanation that was exciting and fun little riddle to solve.

European-Americans did manage to rob African-Americans of one important cultural heritage. Remember earlier, I said the father gave the name to the child? Well, the father, in parts of Africa that experienced the slave trade, did much more that simply give a name to his offspring. The father minded the child as long as he held breath in his body. Marriage in these communities, according to Dr. Michael Searles of Augusta State University, was a sacred pact made under God between one man and one woman, and children were the prized fruit of that union. Slavery nearly destroyed that custom in black American society. Bondsmen were not legally able to marry in America. If a slave owner fell upon hard times, he might sell off a man without thinking of what family ties he might have had. Siring children was important and a man of considerable worthiness might be lent to someone else for that purpose alone. Now I know some are going to bristle at what I am saying here, but the truth is the truth and my mission in life is to provide you with the truth.

Black people were enslaved, they were freed to a system that kept them in de-facto slavery, they faced water hoses and dogs, they had to sit at the back of the bus, and they had to claw away and overcome the limits that white people placed on them. That is a testament to the fundamental spirit and tenacity of the race that heralds from the continent of Africa. However, the destruction of the role of the father in black culture is where we can pinpoint the modern problem of why so many young black males are in the prison system.

After slavery, families were fractured. Many young kids had no idea who their fathers were. Under Jim Crow, men had to migrate to where work could be found and that minimized their time in the household. All young male children need an “alpha-male” in their life. I certainly had one. Without a stable male influence, children turn to other sources. They band together. The term “baby-daddy” is something unique to the African-American segment of society. After centuries of simply being a sire why would we expect modern men to act any different?

Yes, the gangs in Augusta are comprised of young black men. If you go to criminal court, the majority of people rounded up are young black men. It should break the heart of everyone in our community. Police are not looking to lock up young black men; they simply want criminals off the street. Instead of blaming the police for profiling we should be looking at why one segment of society is participating in a situation spurring a police inquiry that made national headlines. Why are so many young black men involved in gang activity? The only answer is for people to understand why we are at this point and work to fix the situation. If the black father figure is restored in the inner city, there will be many more young black men ordering well-done steaks in restaurants and fewer eating what is given to them on a prison menu. Everyone one of us, of all colors, need to understand our shared history. We should celebrate what each culture brought to our American table, and we must work to reverse the mistakes of the past.
by Scott Hudson Scott@wgac.com wgac@wgac.com

rhames123 said...

The problem of the black youth lies deep in the community.We as a race must start getting back to basic put away the suv,cell phone ,beeper and all the crap that is really the distraction.My father said when blacks get anything new they goes plum bonker
and it show when they drive down the street they stair at you to see if you notice thme on thier cell phone.That itself shows stupidity and self centerness instead of focusing on our children becosue when the day of reckening comes the black race with a large record to show for it has contribute nothing just problems.