Racism will be with us until Christ consummates His marriage with His Bride, the church. But God’s wisdom shows us that the best way to help blacks and other minorities is not through welfare, affirmative action, or confessing our racism—unless, of course, we really are racist
In Part 2 of this series, we presented the case that the obsession of many of the leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) with white racism is rooted in white guilt. Their consciences are overwhelmed because they blame themselves, other white people, and centuries of slavery and discrimination for the poor social and economic conditions of many minorities.
David French, a popular political commentator and member of the PCA, is helping to lead the chorus of those making this point:
The consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.
Of course, there is racism in America today. People are sinners and will use everything they can think of to justify their sins, including the color of someone’s skin. Whites, blacks, and others included.
The blaming of the economic and social conditions of blacks and other minorities on what white people have done in the past and present, however, runs into two major obstacles: the narrative does not fit the facts and it does not account for the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let us look at the facts first. If oppression by white racists is the leading cause of the low economic and educational status of blacks, we would have expected to see vast improvement in these areas in the late 1960’s and 1970s after the government passed civil rights laws to end institutional racism and welfare programs designed to advance blacks economically. Yet just the opposite is true.
As Thomas Sowell explains in his book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, “The rise of blacks into professional and other high-level occupations was greater in the years preceding passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the years following passage of that act.”
Prior to the First World War, fewer than 5,000 college degrees had been granted to black students in the entire history of the United States but, by 1935, that had increased five-fold—and by 1947 the black colleges alone granted in one year more degrees than blacks had ever received in all the years prior to the First World War. …
How did this translate into economic change? As of 1940, more than four-fifths of black families—87 percent, in fact—lived below the official poverty level. By 1960, this had fallen to 47 percent. In other words, the poverty rate among blacks had been nearly cut in half before either the civil rights revolution or the Great Society social programs began in the 1960s. The continuation of this trend can hardly be automatically credited to these political developments, though such claims are often made, usually ignoring the pre-existing trends whose momentum could hardly have been expected to stop in the absence of such legislation. By 1970, the poverty rate among blacks had fallen to 30 percent—a welcome development, but by no means unprecedented. A decade after that, with the rise of affirmative action in the intervening years, the poverty rate among black families had fallen to 29 percent. Even if one attributes all of this one percent decline to government policy, it does not compare to the dramatic declines in poverty among blacks when the only major change was the rise in their education.
In the last 50 years, after the welfare state, civil rights laws, and affirmative action have all taken root in the culture, the economic progress being made by blacks relative to whites before Big Government came to their rescue in the 1960s has almost ground to a halt. Blacks seem to have developed a permanent underclass, always trailing whites when it comes to employment.
There are some hints in this graph, however, that the gap need not be permanent. Notice the three lowest points of black unemployment since 1972. The first one came after Newt Gingrich and the Republicans forced Bill Clinton to sign their welfare reform bill. The second one came during the George W. Bush administration. And the third one–with the lowest black unemployment rate on record and the lowest gap between black and white unemployment, came under the administration of Donald J. Trump. Gingrich, Bush, Trump, and Republicans have been better for black employment than Carter, Clinton, Obama, Democrats, and all their big government programs. That doesn’t quite fit the narrative from our evangelical leaders that blacks are hampered by centuries of white oppression.
And then there is Texas. A 2017 Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Chuck DeVore compared Texas’ supplemental poverty rate–which is much more accurate than the official poverty rate because it takes into account cost of living and welfare benefits–with that of other states.