Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It bears repeating that one clear effect of the Obama campaign has been to re-license victim-blaming as cutting edge social analysis and policy. Harvard’s Larry Bobo concludes a recent piece supporting Obama by writing:
The next stages of this struggle will call for new strategies, new ideas and almost certainly a larger dose of self-help and self-assertion from within black America itself. Obama's Father's Day remarks on absentee fathers and taking responsibility for children hit just the right note in this regard. I have rock-solid faith that having Barack Obama in the White House will take matters toward full realization of that next level of inclusion and social justice.
And the little bit of the “Reclaiming the Dream” panel discussion on CNN “moderated” by Soledad O’Brien that I could bring myself to watch became a virtual free-for-all when it came to taking swipes at black men and women for having children without benefit of clergy. It seems all would be well if only Baby Daddy would take Baby Mama in hand and, whether she wants to or not, walk her down the aisle before she drops another illegitimate child from her fertile loins.

Yes folk's it’s likely that next “level of inclusion and social justice” will be one in which those deemed worthy of support by the state (on a recent trip through the Mississippi Delta I saw a sign for an FHA Housing Project declaring it a community for “deserving families) will be those who best conform to statutes of moral behavior dictated by the faith-based organizations recently blessed by St. Obama, working in concert with the University of Chicago economists on his team, to figure out the appropriate moral and economic incentives to create the desired behaviors among “irresponsible” poor black people: let’s say, a poor single girl who gets pregnant at 16 will get less support than one who gets pregnant at 18, and both will get less than a poor young, but married, woman, who gets pregnant at 21, and so on.

The nation’s already atrophied capacity to recognize the structural causes of inequality will diminish to the point that our only explanation of persistent poverty will be either a new version of racialization in which it turns out that people are poor because their culture or their genes lead them to engage in behaviors that prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities that have been made available for them, or that their poverty is the result of inappropriate government interference with market forces that would otherwise work like magic in creating general prosperity. Lord have mercy.


Kate said...

Talk about nailing it! Dang. I just forwarded this post to just about everyone I know. Thanks, Prof.

You all free sometime soon? We leave for New Orleans August 18. It would be great to see you all before then!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kate.

I've told the household to come up with a date for getting together with you all. 'looking forward to it.