The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as “public accommodations”).
I agree that civil rights laws have noble purpose, were long overdue, and have had a positive net impact in many respects. Their very context, however, requires that human behavior be measured by race, by ethnicity, by religion, and by sex, perpetuating the very distinctions that in human terms are irrelevant. Further, it is notable that we predominantly hear about “black” issues in the media while the civil rights laws address discrimination against any race, any ethnicity, any religion, or either sex.
The Zimmerman case has recently provided new “discrimination against blacks” fodder, incentivizing media overkill in pursuit of eyeballs for the purpose of assuring advertising sales while giving race baiters an opening to demand more political favors.
So is there any relevant reality here? How have things gone since 1964 and is there evidence that writing and enforcing civil rights laws has had a net positive impact as far as the “black” race alone is concerned (to view only one impact of civil rights law)?
Here are some government statistics that may prove relevant to answering the above questions.
The St. Louis FED offers the ability to chart US unemployment by race over time. Based on their data set beginning in 1972 through May 2013 black unemployment has consistently tracked at approximately two times white or Asian unemployment while Hispanic unemployment has consistently tracked at approximately 30% higher than white or Asian unemployment. Click here for the chart.
Conclusion: More than forty five years of civil rights laws have not moved the comparative unemployment statistics by race.
The US Center for Disease Control reports that in 2010 the percentage of births to unwed mothers was 29% for “Whites,” 72.5% for “Blacks,” and 53. 4% for “Hispanics.” (See page 6 of this report.) The Brookings Institute reports that in 1970 the percentage of births to unwed mothers was 3.1% for “Whites” and 24% for “Blacks.”
Conclusion: More than forty five years of civil rights laws have had no positive impact on the formation of families legally constituted in the personal public commitment of marriage (and may have had a negative effect).
While our President wants us all to have a deeper understanding of the reaction to the Zimmerman verdict in the black community, his understanding shines a bright light on the irrelevance of civil rights laws to the life circumstances of “black” Americans and his administration has been unable to make any measurable positive difference for the “black” community.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the solution to a more secure, rewarding, and non-violent life for all people has nothing to do with laws about race, ethnicity, religion, or sex but instead can be found in the assumption of individual responsibility, a commitment to family, and adoption of a moral code that strives to treat others as each of us would like to be treated.
All those concerned with these issues are encouraged to read the following:
The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment by Shelby Steele.
Zimmerman Defense Comments on President Obama’s Remarks
Regards, Pete Weldon