This is a review of Thomas Sowell's book "Black Rednecks and White Liberals," with the reviewers suggestions of better alternative sources for understanding the sources of black underclass behavior, and with a few personal comments about Mr. Sowell's style of non-academic research added.
The hypothesis that Mr. Sowell sets forth in this book is that the self-destructive behavior exhibited today by America's urban black underclass, has nothing at all to do with slavery per se, or the objective conditions in America's inner cities, but everything to do with black proximity to poor redneck Irish whites -- among whom such behavior, he theorizes, is innate and was brought to American shores when they immigrated from Europe in the mid 17th Century.
It is such a complicated hypothesis that even under the best of research conditions it would be difficult to render it testable -- not to mention provable in any scientific way. So, it is just as well that Mr. Sowell decided to punt early, and tried to prove it by fiat. Something I have discovered is the very signature of most of his research.
What the author never quite established satisfactorily, was: where exactly did the so-called proximity between the ancestor's of today's poor urban black underclass and those of Irish rednecks, actually take place? For indeed it is an elementary exercise to discover, that at least from 1676, onwards -- that is, from Bacon's rebellion occurred and when the institution of racism and the ideology of white supremacy was firmly instituted as a wedge to keep the two groups apart -- that these two groups, had very little contact and even less to do with each other ever since.
In short, after 1676, it would have been quite impossible for them to have shared such intimate cultural spaces that the behavior traits the author hypothesizes could have taken place.
If it then was virtually impossible for such close contact to have occurred after 1676, due primarily to the new ideology of racism, then it only could have occurred before 1676? And thus, what should have been exhibit number one -- what was going on between the two groups before 1676 -- curiously, was omitted from this book altogether?
Again, it is an elementary exercise to discover that the circumstances that these two groups shared before the Bacon Rebellion, was the common bond of slavery -- indentured servitude as it was euphemistically called at the time. Before 1676, Irish rednecks and blacks worked together, lived in the same quarters, intermarried, killed and plotted rebellion and insurrection against slaveholders, together.
Mr. Sowell, of course could not investigate this time period because then he would have had to admit that perhaps their shared condition of slavery was the most likely explanation for any shared negative behaviors between the two groups?
But to have to admit this would have blown blown Mr. Sowell's thesis to smithereens. So, instead, but in the typical Sowell research fashion, he pretended that this period of close contact between the two groups -- which alone could have accounted for their shared cultured behaviors -- simply never occurred. So much for Mr. Sowell's thesis.
For a more academically honest treatment of the origins of black urban underclass cultural behaviors, may I recommend the book "The Promise Land," by Nicholas Lehmann. This excellent book tracks the plight of the kids of two black Mississippi families as the kids migrated to Chicago after WW-II.
One set of siblings were offspring of landowning black farmers; the others from a family of black sharecroppers. Lehmann's book shows how the children of the landowners eventually became educated Chicago professionals, while those of the sharecroppers, became a large part of Chicago's urban underclass problem. Since my own family figured into this urban tableau, I found Lehmann's analysis not only close to home, but performed at the highest level of academic research standards.
Likewise, may I also refer the reader to Professor Elijah Anderson's book "The Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City." Anderson's book again is a tour de force in modern Sociology in my view, since it shows unmistakably how the behavior of the black urban underclass grows organically out of the conditions of American racism and poverty.
It is neither a story of victimology or, of the "blame the victim type," but a sound analysis of how the objective conditions of America's urban inner city life shape behavior and morals. And it is done by one who lived and worked in the environment as part of his research.
As a final suggestion, may I also recommend Washington Post Reporter Leon Nash's book, "When Children Want Children: The Urban Crisis of Teenage childbearing." Here, in research to be envied, Dash demolishes the old myths about why teenage black girls choose to become pregnant, and how those reasons led to the crisis in black urban illegitimacy.
The low dark Culture of Thomas Sowell's mode of Research
Sad to say, but Mr. Thomas Sowell is the symbolic pack leader of an embarrassing group of black Uncle Toms -- faux journalists, faux academics and "sell-out" government appointees -- that begins with Clarence Thomas and ends with the likes of Larry Elders. These professionally hired hit men, anti-black mercenaries and prostitutes for radical conservative and racist causes, like Pavlov's dog will say and do just about anything to gain the approval of their white conservative ideologues and paymasters. His books, and editorials based on them, are poorly vetted propaganda pieces masquerading as academic pieces, but calculated to tickle racists, which includes all of Sowell "ditto heads," in the cavity where a normal brain would be if they had one.