read these articles and fill out the write up sheet.

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i need you to read these four articles and answer short questions about them in the write up sheet attached

The flight of middle-class blacks from ghettos has left a disastrously isolated underclass -- one formed less by welfare or a lack of jobs than by its rural-South heritage by Nicholas Lemann I. Free Fall "Stand in the center of the black belt -- at Chicago's 47th St. and South Parkway. Around you swirls a continuous eddy of faces -black, brown, olive, yellow, and white.... In the nearby drugstore colored clerks are bustling about. (They are seldom seen in other neighborhoods.) In most of the other stores, too, there are colored salespeople, although a white proprietor or manager usually looms in the offing. In the offices around you, colored doctors, dentists, and lawyers go about their duties. And a brown-skinned policeman saunters along swinging his club and glaring sternly at the urchins who dodge in and out among the shoppers.... There is continuous and colorful movement here -- shoppers streaming in and out of stores; insurance agents turning in their collections at a funeral parlor; club reporters rushing into a newspaper office with their social notes; irate tenants filing complaints with the Office of Price Administration; job-seekers moving in and out of the United States Employment Office." So begins a chapter called "Bronzeville" in Black Metropolis, by St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, a study of the Chicago ghetto published in 1945. It's impossible to stand at the same corner today without wondering what went wrong. There's hardly ever any bustle at Forty-seventh and King Drive (as South Parkway is now called), especially during the day. The shopping strip still exists, though as a shadow of what it obviously once was, and there are heavy metal grates on virtually every storefront that has not been abandoned. Many of the landmarks of the neighborhood -- the Regal Theater, the Savoy Ballroom, the Hotel Grand, the legendary blues clubs -- are boarded up or gone entirely. The Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, a large complex that Drake and Cayton called "a symbol of good living on a relatively high income level," is a housing project populated by people on welfare. Prostitutes cruise Forty-seventh Street in the late afternoon. In cold weather middleaged men stand in knots around fires built in garbage cans. Drake and Cayton's idea of the corner as the heart of a "Little Harlem," where one might glimpse Lena Horne or Joe Louis -- or white people -- sitting in a restaurant, seems ludicrous. I recently spent some time in and around the black sections of Chicago: the South Side, roughly eight miles long and four wide, the single largest black neighborhood in America, of which Forty-seventh and South Parkway used to be the nerve center; and the West Side, a few miles away, a smaller and rougher area. It wasn't just at Forty-seventh and King Drive that the decline of the ghetto over two generations was striking. This is something that black people in Chicago talk about frequently, wondering why the working-poor neighborhoods where they grew up became terrible. Many others wonder the same thing, and they are weary of the standard explanations for the ghettos, which are intellectually neat but don't seem to fit the magnitude of what has gone wrong. It stands to reason that there is another answer to the terrible question of the ghettos. During my time in Chicago I became convinced that there is one. When Drake and Cayton were writing, virtually all black Americans lived in segregated areas, though not necessarily in the urban North. By the sixties, when race relations had become a central national concern, the northern ghettos had received a large influx of migrants from the South, and they were portrayed as overcrowded, desperately poor slums stunted by racism. Today, after years of efforts to end poverty and discrimination, the ghettos are worse, much worse, than they were in the sixties. A few blocks from Forty-seventh and King Drive is a housing project called the Robert Taylor Homes, a two-mile-long row of 28 sixteen-story buildings housing more than 20,000 people. The four-block stretch of the Robert Taylor Homes between Forty-seventh and Fifty-first Streets has the distinction of being the poorest neighborhood in the United States. In the forties the strip of land where the Robert Taylor Homes now stand was the poorest part of the traditional black belt in Chicago, but it had many fewer residents and was just the bad part of the neighborhood. Today the project dominates it physically and demographically. The City of Chicago has defined a "community area" on the South Side that contains both Forty-seventh and King Drive and the Robert Taylor Homes, and its statistics show not just how bad off the neighborhood is but how much worse off it has recently become. In 1970 thirty-seven percent of the population of the area was below the poverty line; in 1980 the figure was 51 percent. In 1970 the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent; in 1980 it was 24.2 percent. In 1970 forty percent of the residents of the neighborhood lived in families with a female head; in 1980 the number had grown to 72 percent. In 1980 of the 54,000 residents 33,000 were on welfare. Experts agree that all of the numbers are even worse today. For a decade after the burst of attention paid to ghettos in the 1960s there was a feeling that blacks were steadily moving up in America. The distance between black and white incomes was continually narrowing. Black education levels were rising sharply. Middle-class blacks were becoming more and more visible on television and in public places. There was a long string of black "firsts," especially and most impressively in elective politics. In the past few years there has been a steady stream of news indicating that at the same time there was another side to the story: a way of life in the ghettos utterly different from that in the American mainstream. One statistic had a tremendous impact on the public perception of black progress: starting in the late seventies, the U.S. National Canter for Health Statistics began to report that more than half of black babies were born out of wedlock, up from 17 percent in 1950. Today the figure is thought to be 60 percent nationwide; in Chicago it is 75 percent. Urban school systems have become increasingly segregated, with a large gap in achievement levels between black and white schools. Black unemployment is nearly triple white unemployment. Black crime rates have soared -- in Chicago, which is less than half black, about four times as many blacks as whites are arrested for violent crimes. The infant mortality rate, which is considered one of the basic indicators of how advanced a society is, is rising in the ghettos. Occasionally a shocking event provides the outside world with a snapshot of ghetto life: Edmund Perry, not a directionless punk but a freshly minted graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, dies in a scuffle with a police officer in Harlem. On the South Side of Chicago, Benjy Wilson, a high school basketball star, is gunned down on the street in broad daylight by two members of a teenage gang, one of whom is the grandson of the great blues impresario Willie Dixon. Perry and Wilson, and Wilson's murderers, were all from absent-father families; Wilson had himself just fathered a child out of wedlock. This is what life is like for the elite of the ghetto, not just the dropouts and semi-professional petty criminals. The way that the two versions of black life since the sixties fit together is through the idea of the bifurcation of black America, in which blacks are splitting into a middle class and an underclass that seems likely never to make it. The clearest line between the two groups is family structure. Black husband-wife families continue to close the gap with whites; their income is now 78 percent as high. But the income of black female-headed families, adjusted for inflation, has been dropping. The black female headed family represents an ever larger share of the population of poor people in America: 7.3 percent in 1959 and 19.3 percent in 1984. Why, during a period of relative prosperity and of national commitment to black progress, has the bifurcation taken place? The question should be urgent for anyone who thinks it wrong that millions of people in the black underclass lead destroyed lives or who, because of the problems of the ghettos, has had to give up the idea of an open, democratic city life built around public education and safe streets. There are two answers prevalent right now, both of which explain the slide in the ghettos using the shifting of economic incentives. The conservative answer is that welfare and the whole Great Society edifice of compensatory programs for blacks do exactly the opposite of what they're supposed to: they make blacks worse off by encouraging them to become dependent on government checks and favors. Poor blacks have children out of wedlock and don't work, so that they can get money from liberal programs. This view is energetically codified in Charles Murray's 1984 book Losing Ground, which presents a series of charts and graphs showing poor blacks becoming poorer -- and crime rising, and efforts to find work declining, and educational achievement dropping -- during precisely the time of the War on Poverty. The liberal answer is built around unemployment. At the time that the ghettos began getting worse, unemployment was very low, but blacks, by then heavily concentrated in the northern industrial cities, were dependent on the one part of the economy that was falling apart -- inner-city unskilled heavy labor. In Chicago the harbinger of the change was the closing in the late fifties of the stockyards, which for half a century were the sine qua non of lower-class grunt work and a heavy employer of blacks. Chicago lost 200,000 jobs in the seventies; small shut-down redbrick factories that used to make products like boxes and ball bearings dot the city, especially the West Side. The lack of jobs, the argument continues, caused young men in the ghetto to adopt a drifting, inconstant life; to turn to crime; to engage in exaggeratedly macho behavior -- acting tough, not studying, bullying women for money -- as a way to get the sense of male strength that their fathers had derived from working and supporting families. As Murray believes that one simple step, ending all welfare programs, would heal the ghettos, the unemployment school believes that another simple step, jobs, would heal them. "When there's a demand for the participation of the black underclass in the labor force, most of the so-called problems people talk about will evaporate in a generation," says John McKnight. an urban-research professor at Northwestern University. Among poverty experts the debate is raging, and though it is quite abstruse (it is based almost entirely on analysis of government statistics), the stakes are large. The country seems to be gearing up for another run at the problems of the ghettos; President Reagan has commissioned a major study of welfare reform, which is a polite way of asking what we should do about the black underclass. A new generation of government solutions will probably follow -- solutions that will be aimed at either dismantling the welfare state or expanding it, depending on who wins the debate, which in turn will depend on who can explain most convincingly why the ghettos have done so badly. With the discussions of the issue so exclusively reliant on statistics, I thought that studying a ghetto at first hand would yield something new. Here, in brief, is what I found: The black underclass did not just spring into being over the past twenty years. Every aspect of the underclass culture in the ghettos is directly traceable to roots in the South -- and not the South of slavery but the South of a generation ago. In fact, there seems to be a strong correlation between underclass status in the North and a family background in the nascent underclass of the sharecropper South. What happened to make the underclass grow so much in the seventies can best be understood by thinking less about welfare or unemployment than about demographics -- specifically, two mass migrations of black Americans. The first was from the rural South to the urban North, and numbered in the millions during the forties, fifties, and sixties, before ending in the early 1970s. This migration brought the black class system to the North virtually intact, though the underclass became more pronounced in the cities. The second migration began in the late sixties -- a migration out of the ghettos by members of the black working and middle classes, who had been freed from housing discrimination by the civil-rights movement. Until then the strong leaders and institutions of the ghettos had promoted an ethic of assimilation (if not into white society, at least into a black middle class) for the underclass, which worked up to a point. Suddenly most of the leaders and institutions (except criminal ones) left, and the preaching of assimilation by both blacks and whites stopped. What followed was a kind of free fall into what sociologists call social disorganization. The result of the exodus from the ghettos is dramatic, both in the statistics and on the streets -- the ghettos have lost considerable population, and they look not just bad today but also empty. As the population of the ghettos has dropped, the indices of disorganization there (crime, illegitimate births) have risen. The underclass flourished when in the seventies it was completely disengaged from the rest of society -- when there were no brakes on it. This argument is anthropological, not economic; it emphasizes the power over people's behavior that culture, as opposed to economic incentives, can have. Ascribing a society's conditions in part to the culture that prevails there seems benign when the society under discussion is England or California. But as a way of thinking about black ghettos it has become unpopular. Twenty years ago ghettos were often said to have a self-generating, destructive culture of poverty (the term has an impeccable source, the anthropologist Oscar Lewis). But then the left equated cultural discussions of the ghetto with accusing poor blacks of being in a bad situation that was of their own making; thus they would deserve no special help or sympathy from society. The left succeeded in limiting the terms of debate to purely economic ones, and today the right also discusses the ghetto in terms of economic "incentives to fail," provided by the welfare system. Both sides call apparently irrational behavior like bearing children out of wedlock and dropping out of school simply a rational response to conditions created by society. In the ghettos, though, it appears that the distinctive culture is now the greatest barrier to progress by the black underclass, rather than either unemployment or welfare. Today the bedrock of the economic arguments of both left and right is eroding: the value of welfare benefits is declining, and the northern industrial cities are not rapidly losing jobs anymore. Still the ghettos get worse, and the power of culture seems to be the reason why. The new immigrants of the eighties (Koreans, Vietnamese, West Indians) have in many cases settled in the ghettos, and so should have experienced all of the reverse incentives, but they have quickly become successful, because they maintain a separate culture. The negative power of the ghetto culture all but guarantees that any attempt to solve the problems of the underclass in the ghettos won't work -the culture is too strong by now. Any solution that does work, whatever it does about welfare and unemployment, will also have to get people physically away from the ghettos. II. The Old Neighborhood One day last spring Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, a woman in her early thirties who is a graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago, took me to see the place where she had grown up. The trip was an encapsulation of what has happened in the ghettos since the sixties. We drove from the center of Chicago toward the West Side ghetto -- out West Madison, the riot corridor of the mid-sixties, and then Ogden, a broad boulevard that angles off to the southwest. The neighborhood where Hicks-Bartlett grew up is called North Lawndale, and today in Chicago its name carries the same freight that "South Bronx" does nationally. The Chicago Tribune published a long series last year that vividly presented North Lawndale as the embodiment of a black underclass community. The 1980 census showed North Lawndale to be 97 percent black and 20 percent unemployed, with 40 percent of its families living in poverty and 61 percent headed by women. Hicks-Bartlett, who hadn't been there for fifteen years, was shocked by the way Ogden Avenue looked: Douglas Park, in her memory a sylvan playground, was empty, denuded of shrubbery, with stern curfew signs posted; Lawndale Oldsmobile, once the biggest commercial establishment in the neighborhood, was shut down and abandoned; of the three neighborhood movie theaters a few blocks away, two were torn down and one had become a church. Everything that remained, even the churches, was protected by heavy steel mesh, and odd symbols (a six-pointed star, crossed pitchforks) were spray-painted everywhere. North Lawndale is a perfect example of the three-step process that has made the ghettos so bad today: the migration north, which included the underclass; then the migration from the ghettos of everyone but the underclass; and finally the victory of disorganization. In 1950, when it was a white neighborhood, North Lawndale had 100,000 residents. In 1960, when it had become all black and the first migration was at its peak, it had 125,000. In 1980 the population was down to 62,000; more than half its population moved away in the seventies. The Hicks family was almost completely gone. Sharon Hicks-Bartlett now lives in Park Forest, the integrated suburb south of Chicago described in The Organisation Man. As the population has gone down in North Lawndale, the indices of ghetto culture -- poverty, crime, low educational achievement, low work effort, the percentage of female-headed families -- have all increased in almost perfect reverse correlation. In real life the bifurcation is never as neat as in the numbers. As we drove, Hicks Bartlett told me about her own family. Her parents had lived for two years in the now infamous Cabrini-Green housing project (a black island near the affluent white near North Side) before moving to North Lawndale. Her brother Walter had once played neighborhood basketball with Mark Aguirre, the Dallas Mavericks star, but had dropped the sport and his dreams of success. A year before, he had been badly and arbitrarily beaten by a gang that set upon him while he was stopped at a red light. Another relative had married a man freshly arrived in Chicago from the southern underclass, and she ended up on welfare for years. This relative, along with her six children and eight grandchildren (all born out of wedlock), had recently moved out of Cabrini-Green to the South Side, and had become estranged from the rest of the family. She and her family had not come to Sharon's wedding. It had gotten back to HicksBardett that her South Side relatives were making cracks about its being no surprise that she was marrying a white man, because she had been living for years as if she wanted to he white -- studying hard, moving to the suburbs. For her part, Hicks-Bartlett had decided since becoming a mother not to visit her relatives on the South Side anymore, because children there were regularly called, as she primly put it, "M. F. " It was an environment she didn't want her daughter exposed to. We turned onto the street where Hicks-Bartlett had lived, South Drake, and pulled up to the house, number 1643. A small gasp from HicksBartlett: only about two thirds of the block appeared to be occupied. The rest of the houses were either abandoned or demolished. Sixteen forty-three was a classic Chicago two-flat; 1642, across the street, a three-flat, was one-third empty; 1625, 1649, 1652, and 1655 were missing entirely. The little parch of lawn in front of Hicks-Bartlett's old house had gone bare, and the paint had faded. "That house used to shine," she said. Down on the corner the grocery store was barred as if against an armored division. The cross street, Sixteenth, had become the hustling, dealing, and hanging-out part of the neighborhood, with the action centering on a windowless "game room," which was several months later exposed by the Tribune as a drug exchange and then closed down by the city. Hicks-Bartlett's grandparents bought 1643 South Drake in 1950, for $13,600. They were the third black family on their side of the block. The whites who sold them the house stayed on in the other flat as tenants for a year. When Sharon's family took over one of the flats, in 1962, the neighborhood was all black and still respectable-postmen and janitors and their families lived there. Then, as it became more and more crowded with migrants, some kind of critical mass of teenagers was achieved (in 1950 twenty percent of North Lawndale's population was between five and nineteen, and in 1970 forty percent), and the gangs began to take over. One day in the early sixties Hicks-Bartlett's uncle Marvin was standing in front of the house wearing some new clothes that, unbeknownst to him, were the colors of rivals of the gang that ran the neighborhood. A group of young men walked up to him in broad daylight and pulled a knife. His mother, watching from the porch, screamed, and they ran off, having inflicted only a flesh wound. Soon afterward Hicks-Bartlett's parents moved to an all-middle-class neighborhood on the far South Side, and over the next few years, as racial barriers fell in the housing and job markets, and the West Side began to have terrifying summertime rioting, most of their friends and neighbors left too. Today Hicks-Bartlett's grandmother, Bertha Williams, who used to own the house at 1643 South Drake with her husband, lives in Niles, Michigan, a small, pretty town between Chicago and Detroit. Her house is out in the country a little ways, on a lane off the highway. On the day that I went to see her she was sitting in an easy chair in her living room, which was decorated with portraits of her grandchildren dressed in either cap and gown or military uniform. There was a clock with pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy on its face. Mrs. Williams told me that all four of her grandparents had been slaves on plantations in southern Louisiana and had walked to New Orleans after Emancipation. She was born in New Orleans in 1914, and her family moved to Chicago in 1922, during the first great migration of blacks from the South to the North. In those days there was no government poverty line. The family lived in much greater material want than there is in the ghetto today -- it was fourteen years before they were able to afford an apartment with central heating. She married Thomas Williams, a laborer from the South with no formal education. The couple had nine children and was occasionally on relief. But for Mrs. Williams there was no hint of the despair that these experiences are supposed to engender; her values remained staunchly anchored in work, marriage, and economic progress. The story ended, as many immigrant sagas do, with her and her husband both getting safe, low-level jobs on government payrolls and staying in them for decades, until retirement. As we were talking, a sixteen-year-old relative of Mrs. Williams's came home from school. After Mrs. Williams had finished recounting her life, he told me about his, and the sense of how much the culture of the ghetto had changed was dramatic. (This young man doesn't want his real name used, because he fears reprisals from Chicago gangs. I'll call him John.) John had recently moved to Niles from Chicago, because his work in school was suffering under the pressure of the gangs. He had been living in Jeffrey Manor, a borderline middle-class area on the far South Side. Although he was born into an economic position that it had taken Mrs. Williams thirty years in Chicago to achieve, he had had the disadvantage of not having a father, because his parents had split up before he was born. During John's first year at Chicago Vocational High School -- a vast institution that has historically had a burly, can-do reputation (Dick Butkus, the middle linebacker, went there) -- members of the biggest gang in Chicago, the Disciples, befriended him and urged him to join, saying that gang life was a lot of fun. At their request he gave them the key to his locker, but he didn't join, and the urging began to turn nasty. Gang members would chase him on the way home from school and beat him in such a way that the injuries would not be noticeable. (Sports stars and some outstanding students are usually immune from this treatment.) Although the Disciples controlled Jeffrey Manor, a rival gang called the Black Cobra Stones had established a beachhead there and began recruiting John too. During his sophomore year John joined a gang called the Valley Rocks, affiliated with the El Rukns, and began staying out of school a lot, in part because of the heavy demands of gang membership. He sketched out the big picture of Chicago gang life for me. There are two large families of gangs in Chicago: the People, whose symbol is a five-pointed star, and the Folks, whose symbol is a six-pointed star. These were what I had seen spray-painted all over North Lawndale. The head of the People, he said, is a man named Jeff Fort, and the head of the Folks is a man named Larry Hoover -- both in their thirties, having emerged as leaders during the period when the adult leadership was rapidly leaving the ghetto, both now in prison. The gangs under the People include the Vice Lords, the Black Cobra Stones, and the El Rukns, as well as the Valley Rocks; under the Folks are the Disciples, the Spanish Cobras, and the Latin Jivers. The People control most of the West Side (John said it was the Vice Lords who had attacked his uncle Marvin twenty years earlier), while the Folks control most of the South Side. The People wear the bills of their caps pointed left, and cross their arms with the right arm on top, while the Folks point their caps to the right and cross their arms with the left on top. Every now and then in Chicago a teenager will be gunned down on the street for the crime of having his arms crossed right-on-top in an area that is Folks turf. John began as a foot soldier, an entry-level position in which the main duties are stealing, selling marijuana, and fighting with other gangs. He said that he did not rob people or sell drugs, but that "as far as fighting, I used to get into it a lot." In the hierarchy, one is promoted from foot soldier to lieutenant or gunslinger, then to captain, then to chief. A chief commands about fifty foot soldiers. John's best friend, Rocky (not his real name), was a chief in Jeffrey Manor. Another friend, named Cortez, was a Valley Rocks chief at Chicago Vocational; recently the school administration had negotiated a Camp David-style peace treaty between him and the chief of a rival gang. Both Rocky and Cortez were two or three layers of bureaucracy removed from Hoover, the chief of the parent gang. One day, John said, he and Rocky were on a city bus and six or seven Disciples got on and attacked him, because of a quarrel over a girl. Rocky, who takes care to dress neatly, opened his briefcase, took out a gun, and started shooting. "They left," John said. "In fact, so did the driver and everybody else on the bus." Another time, when he was standing outside a little store called the Candy Shop, right across the street from Chicago Vocational, a Disciple shot at him. He ducked into an alley and got away. Finally, when a friend of John's named Tystick was shot in the chest and back, he decided he had to get away. (In the time since we talked, both Tystick and Cortez have been killed.) Even Rocky, he said, was talking about joining the Marines as a way out -- "'Cause once you get in a gang, you can't get out. They want you to do something really horrendous before you get out, like kill somebody." The gangs are the real authorities, the most powerful force, in the worst parts of the Chicago ghetto, and as such they are another example of what happened to the ghettos when they became exclusively lower-class in the late sixties and early seventies. But John's story illustrates another point, too. The underclass culture, after a decade on its own to gather force, was strong enough to begin expanding its sphere of influence outside the bad ghettos to neighborhoods a step or two up the ladder, like Jeffrey Manor. There are several signs of the expansion of the culture, including rising illegitimacy and crime rates, but the gang recruitment is the most obvious; it forces kids, through physical terror, to give up school and work, and become professional criminals. III. Back Home One of the largest international migrations in American history created the urban black ghettos. Almost all black southerners who came north arrived essentially penniless, and almost all settled initially in all-black, all-poor areas. Most of the migrants made it. The prevailing theories about why a substantial minority spectacularly did not make it cannot account for the relative success of most blacks who moved north. Answering the question of how and why some of the migrants got out of the ghettos and some did not, I thought, might be one of the keys to the mystery of the underclass. So I got to know a group of friends in Chicago who had come from one town in Mississippi -- Canton, population 12,000, fifteen miles north of Jackson. Most of the group had graduated from the town's segregated black high school in 1955 (though some hadn't finished) and had moved north shortly thereafter. Their version of the origins of the underclass was new to me. Between 1910 and 1920 the first wave of 572,000 blacks moved from the South to the North, almost always to cities. In the twenties 913,000 left; in the thirties 473,000; in the forties 1.7 million, 18 percent of the black population of the South; in the fifties 1.5 million; in the sixties 1.4 million. The number of blacks who moved north, about 6.5 million, is greater than the number of Italians or Irish or Jews or Poles who moved to this country during their great migrations. Chicago had 44,000 blacks in 1910. The labor shortages created by the First World War and the immigration restrictions of the twenties, along with the depression in southern agriculture due to the boll weevil, brought the first big wave. There were 109,000 blacks in Chicago in 1920 (of whom 50,000 had come just in eighteen months during the world war) and 234,000 in 1930. Big Chicago employers, like the packinghouses, sent agents to the South to recruit black laborers; agents of the southern farmers came north to try, unsuccessfully, to persuade them to come home. (A headline from the Memphis Commercial Appeal read "SOUTH IS BETTER FOR NEGRO, SAY MISSISSIPPIANS/COLORED PEOPLE FOUND PROSPEROUS AND HAPPY.") Chicago's preeminent black newspaper, the Defender, was widely circulated in the South and was a constant cheerleader for migration (which it called "The Flight Out of Egypt"), assuring blacks that Chicago had better jobs and more rights, even if it was colder. As one article put it, in response to a warning made to blacks by southern whites, "To die from the bite of frost is far more glorious than at the hands of a mob." During the Depression, because the word went out that jobs were hard to come by in Chicago, the migration slowed considerably; the black population grew by just 44,000 in the thirties. But the Second World War created a labor boom that set off a quarter century of sustained movement of southern blacks to Chicago. There were 492,000 black Chicagoans in 1950 (a 77 percent increase in one decade), 813,000 in 1960 (a further 65 percent increase), and 1.1 million in 1970. Because the migrants followed the existing train, bus, and highway routes, black Chicago was populated from the states along Highway 51 and the Illinois Central tracks -- Arkansas, Louisiana, and, most important, Mississippi. In the fifties alone Mississippi lost more than a quarter of its black population. It's no wonder that the Delta blues became the Chicago blues in the late forties and early fifties; blacks still sometimes call the South Side "North Mississippi." Although the migration ended in the early seventies -- again, because jobs had become scarce in Chicago -- there is still considerable movement back and forth, and the South is very much in the minds of black Chicagoans. Most of the very successful local blacks who are held up as role models are southern-born: Jesse Jackson (South Carolina), John H. Johnson, the owner of Ebony (Arkansas), Oprah Winfrey, the TV host who appeared in The Color Purple (Mississippi), Walter Payton, of the Chicago Bears (Mississippi), the Reverend Johnnie Colemon, the pastor of the biggest church in Chicago (Mississippi). It is a custom among many black Chicagoans to go to the South at least twice a year, at Christmas and in July -- over the Fourth of July weekend the hotels in Jackson are booked solid with black family and high school reunions. Black Mississippians go to Chicago too. Recently, at a student assembly of a black Catholic grade school in Canton, I asked the children how many had been to Chicago, and nearly every hand went up. Often they went for long visits with relatives in the summers. (How many want to live in Chicago when they grow up? I asked. No hands. Why not? An immediate chorus: "Too dangerous.") At one of Chicago's worst high schools -- Orr, on the West Side -- I asked a class how many were born in Chicago. Almost everyone was. But almost everyone's mother had been born in Mississippi. Many of the mothers of a class of eighth graders at Beethoven School, an elementary school whose students all live in the Robert Taylor Homes, were from Mississippi. Today there are 1.2 million black Chicagoans (the increase of 100,000 since 1970 is the result not of migration but of births exceeding deaths). A reasonable estimate of the number who are in the underclass would be somewhere between 200,000, roughly the total population of all the low-income housing projects, including men who aren't official residents, and 420,000, the number of black Chicagoans on welfare. Even the highest estimate is only a third of the current black population, which does not include the approximately 230,000 blacks in Chicago suburbs. The experience in Chicago of the majority of blacks who migrated, then, has not been one of defeat and failure. A much more typical story would be like that of Mildred Nichols, one of the group I met from Canton. I met Nichols at a restaurant called Soul Queen, on the far South Side, near a neighborhood called Pill Hill (black doctors live there). We talked in the bar, where the waitress who served our drinks was wearing a gold paper crown. Nichols graduated from Cameron Street High School, in Canton, on May 28, 1955, and arrived in Chicago on June 5. She moved in with an aunt and uncle she had never met and began looking for a job. She took a test to be an order-filler at the big Montgomery Ward catalogue store but was told that she had failed. She was convinced that she had really passed and was being tricked, so she told the woman who had administered the test that she would be back in the afternoon to retake it, and back again every day until she passed. She got the job, stayed there until after the Christmas rush, and then began working as a waitress on the midnight-to-8 A.M. shift at a restaurant in the heart of the ghetto. The themes that Mildred Nichols emphasized to me during our conversation were pride and success. Today she works in the office at a nursing home called Bethune Plaza, also in the heart of the ghetto. She has been with the same company for ten years. Of her five siblings, all younger, a sister has a master's degree and teaches school, one brother is an attorney in Jackson, married to a nurse, the next brother is a businessman in Canton, the next is a graduate of Northwestern Law School, and the youngest sister is a pharmacist. I asked her what their secret was. She said, "It might have been that we had a two-parent family. My father had a fourth-grade education, and my mother had eighth grade -- we were middle-class. We lived in town. My father taught us that you have to be a strong person to survive. Willpower! Nothing, nobody is better than you. Nobody. Welfare? No! Jesus! No! Because I simply could not be bought. Never! Never! Catholic schools for my kids. No truancy. I told them, 'Give me two years of college. You must!' My son has no police record. My daughter didn't have her first child till she was twenty-five. I never did domestic work, darling. Never! I've always had office jobs. " What about the people who had failed in Chicago? What was the difference? "They had low self-esteem. They didn't have the drive you need in Chicago. You see, this city is Jaws -- One, Two, Three, and Four. They didn't want to!" In Mildred Nichols's view, the people on welfare were primarily children of sharecroppers from what southern blacks call "the rural" -- the farming areas outside of town. "The persons who aren't able to deal with this society," she said, "are the ones from the deep-rural part of the South that had to drop out of school to pick cotton. They had no one to teach them. They still live that life-style of the rural South up here. The other day I went in the grocery store across the street from Robert Taylor Homes, and I went completely ape. I went stone bats! They had those Little Debbie gingerbread cookies in two-packs. They had the little packets of Argo starch -- people in the country like to chew it, especially pregnant women, and in the country they stay pregnant." What was striking about this answer was how foreign Nichols found the commonly held idea that a poor black underclass has emerged over the past twenty years, starting with the flowering of the Great Society programs. The main characteristics of the underclass -- poverty crime, poor education, dependency, and teenage out-of-wedlock childbearing -- were nothing new to her. She and her friends, and white people in Canton, too, had seen them all their lives. Canton was established in 1834, as the trading center and seat of government for Madison County, Mississippi. It seems warranted to say that slavery was the town's central and defining institution. From the beginning blacks outnumbered whites by three to one (the ratio did not drop significantly until after the Second World War), and the whites' economic status and comfort and safety depended on keeping the blacks subjugated. To what degree slavery hurt the black family is the subject of a lengthy and complicated debate among historians. In Madison County what evidence there is supports the view that slavery had a destructive effect on family coherence. A small oral-history project carried out in the 1930s includes reminiscences by two former slaves, both of whom, when they were children, saw their parents separated through sale. One of them said that there were no marriage ceremonies for slaves in Madison County, and that pairings were often arranged by the masters. Through the mid-twentieth century Madison County was settled into a system of segregation and sharecropping. I found no real disagreement between blacks and whites about the particulars: All but a handful of blacks, fewer than a hundred, were denied the right to vote, by means of a poll tax and a "literacy test," in which the registrar of voters would pick at random a section of the Mississippi constitution and ask black wouldbe voters to read it aloud and then deliver an interpretation. There were separate black and white schools in Canton, and in the countryside blacks went to one-room schoolhouses with no new books, heat, electricity, or running water. In April and May, and then again in September and October, many blacks, especially in the country, had to leave school to work in the cotton fields, so even a decent junior high school education was a great rarity among rural blacks. Blacks were expected to address whites as "sir" and "mister," as in "Yassuh, Mister Charlie." Whites addressed blacks by their first names. This was serious business: one black woman in Canton told me that when she was a girl, in the forties, a man who was home visiting from the North was shot dead on a sidewalk by a policeman for acting, the woman said, "uppity." Another told me about a black grocery-store clerk in the fifties who was seen flirting with a white female customer; he was castrated by white vigilantes and put on a train out of town. In the country some blacks owned small farms but most were employees or, more likely, tenants. They would live on big farms in unpainted twoand three-room wooden shacks, with no plumbing or heat. Families were big, in part because the more hands there were to go out in the fields the more money the family would make. The sharecropper kept anywhere from half to four-fifths of the proceeds from his cash crops, which he received from the landowner in a settling-up at the end of the year. The sharecropper could never come out ahead. He had to borrow from the white man he worked for all year long, in order to feed his family and buy his implements, feed, and fertilizer. In bad years he would still be behind after the settling-up, sometimes so far behind that he would have to leave in a hurry; in good years, after all the deductions had been made, he would somehow be only a few dollars ahead. The result, fully intended, was an ethic of dependency. Sharecroppers had no money and practically no education, and they counted on the landowner to provide for them -- which he did, meagerly. On Saturday afternoon the sharecroppers would travel into town on foot or by mule, on Sunday they'd go to church, and on Monday they'd be back in the fields. In town there was a more complicated black society consisting of a light-skinned elite of doctors, lawyers, and educators, a dark-skinned elite of ministers and businessmen, a skilled-artisan class (carpenters, truck drivers, railroad porters), a janitor-and-servant class, and a lower class, in which life was meager and chaotic, and bourgeois proprieties such as the marriage ceremony were little observed. This last group lived on the west side of the Illinois Central railroad tracks, often in tiny shacks. Quite often there would be no father in the home; he might be off working, or looking for work somewhere else, or he might have just drifted away. The black women in Canton could always work in white people's homes, but there was very little reliable, steady, decent-paying work for men. A small subculture developed based on hustling -- prostitution, bootlegging, drugs, petty thievery. This was not regarded with great hostility by other blacks or by whites, who had a casual attitude about crime in the black part of town and sometimes came to the black neighborhoods for illicit pleasures. A white man from an old Canton family showed me a novel he had found in his attic, written by a relative, apparently in the twenties or thirties; one of the characters is a sharp-dressing, sweettalking young black man who lives off women. The idea that black Cantonians began moving to Chicago in droves during the Second World War in order to escape segregation is appealing but not really true. They moved to escape poverty and in most cases the dignity of making a decent living was far more gratifying at first than the dignity of having equal rights under the law. There is nothing comparable in American life today to the amount of financial gain southern blacks could realize instantly by moving less than a thousand miles away, to another part of the same country, and getting the kind of unskilled jobs -laborer, sales clerk -- that were unavailable to them in Canton. David Brown, raised in the country outside Canton, left in 1951. He was working in gas station for $25 a week. His first week's paycheck at his job in a laundry in Chicago, working around the clock, was $200 -- at the time a large sum by any standards. His brother Eddie, who moved in 1961, was supporting a pregnant wife and six children on $86 a week take-home pay from a factory job in Canton. His first check in Chicago, at a small factory, was $178. Oresa Brown, no relation but also raised in the country outside Canton, was making cabinets in Memphis for $80 a week. He learned that a white co-worker was making $100 for the same job, drove up to Chicago on Labor Day in 1962, and found a cabinet-making job the next day that paid $300 a week. "The only recruiting from Chicago then was by family members who'd bring back a paycheck and show it around," says Robert Chinn, who stayed in Canton but estimates that 80 percent of his class (1958) at Cameron Street High School left. It is part of white folklore that many blacks moved to Chicago just to get on welfare, which pays more than double in Illinois what it does in Mississippi, but this is impossible to substantiate. Though everybody knows that welfare can be a trap, its tidal pull toward dependency is much stronger on people already on the rolls than on those who are working and considering their options. The extremely active Mississippi-Chicago grapevine concerns itself mostly with jobs. The gross migration figures correspond closely to the availability of jobs for blacks: the first surge during the First World War, the big dip during the Depression, and a halt in the early seventies, when the unskilled blue-collar job market was opening up in the South and closing down in the North. In the severities, when welfare payments in Illinois were more than quadruple those in Mississippi, there was little migration at all. The handful of studies of black migrants portrays them as a typical immigrant group in that they are, on average, more motivated and better educated than the people who stayed home. They also do better, after a few years, than blacks born in the North. Whites born in the North do better than whites who moved there from the South, so it is curious that northern-born blacks should do worse; the difference must be a testament to the destructive effects of the northern ghettos on people raised there. The one group of black migrants who in 1970, at the end of the great migration, had an above-average rate of welfare dependency consisted of those who had been in the North for less than five years and who were in female-headed families. At the time of the migration to the North the sharecroppers in Mississippi were moving off the land, because they were being replaced in the fields by machines. Heavy tractors and cotton-picking machines became common equipment on farms in the fifties; by 1960 what was once the work of fifty field hands could be done by only three or four. Typically, the sharecroppers were simply dismissed; white farmers in Canton who had dozens of people living on their property have no idea where they are today. Deserted sharecropper cabins are a common sight in the country outside Canton, spectral presences falling down at the edges of open fields, some of them in rows, some half a mile from the nearest building or road. A few are still occupied, mostly by old people who sometimes still dress in homespun and use wood fires to warm themselves and cook. The sharecroppers moved to town -- to Canton or Jackson or even Chicago -- since there was no place else for them to go. It is impossible to produce statistics to prove it, but the common opinion among both blacks and whites is that many of them ended up on welfare, living in public housing (Canton has housing projects now). The similarities between sharecropping and welfare are eerie: dependency on "the man"; more money for having more children; little value placed on education; no home ownership; an informal attitude toward marriage and childbearing. I met several Cantonians who had done well and whose parents had been sharecroppers, but in every case they came from a two-parent family and at some time during their childhood their parents had scraped together enough money to buy a farm of their own and stop sharecropping. In contrast, everybody I met in the Robert Taylor Homes who was a migrant from the South had been in a sharecropper family right up to the move to Chicago. Others in the Chicago underclass have their roots in the southern small-town black lower class. For example, one member of the Cameron Street High School class of 1955 who ended up in the underclass (she lives in North Lawndale, right across the street from the house where Sharon Hicks-Bartlett grew up) came from a one-parent family in Canton and dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade. She doesn't keep in touch with her classmates, didn't come to their thirtieth reunion last summer, and, when they call her, either doesn't call back or says she's too busy to talk. (It is typical for migrants to Chicago who have not been successful to become more and more isolated from family, friends, and people with jobs.) Mildred Nichols told me, "Most people on welfare here, they were on welfare there, in a sense, because they were sharecroppers. There they were working hard for nothing, now they're not working for nothing. They have been mentally programmed that Mister Charlie's going to take care of them." A white farmer I spent some time with in Canton agreed. He said, "We all quit the sharecroppers and went to tractors. The government takes care of all these niggers now. They live in the housing project in town. They get stamps and welfare. They're living better than they ever lived in their lives." This man didn't want me to use his name, because he had trouble in the sixties with the federal government over shorting his sharecroppers at settling-up time and doesn't want more trouble now. On that condition he agreed to show me around the countryside just outside of Canton so that I could see what the old system was like. He is in his eighties, has a tenth-grade education, and drives an aged blue pickup truck. I met him outside a place called Jimbo's Cafe and got in the cab, and we took off. After a while we turned off the highway and bumped down a dirt road to some land he owned. He pointed out where the sharecroppers' houses had been -- for example, to a pile of rotted wood. "Here's a house. Just a nigger house. Four rooms, eight, nine people. No running water., A well, an outside toilet, no heat. I had twelve, thirteen, fourteen families out here. They got half the crop, and I charged 'em ten cents on the dollar for their money. See, I'd pay 'em on the basis of -- I'd go and ask him how many kids he had out in the field. Because they had to hoe. I'd let them have about twenty up to sixty dollars a month. But they'd always want more money! They were a different class of people! You'd pay 'em Friday night and it'd be gone Monday morning." He went on: "I had these niggers working on shares. At the end of the year they didn't have much left. They'd never go to school. He'd tell me how many he'd have in the field and that's how many I'd look for. They'd go out in the field when they were ten or twelve, as soon as they were big enough to pull a hoe. If they wouldn't put the kids in the field, why, then we'd whup 'em. Then they wouldn't give us any more trouble. We'd tie 'em up and whup 'em with a plow line." The farmer had one sharecropper left. He was sixty-six years old and suffering from lung disease. We drove out to another pasture to pick him up, because the farmer wanted me to talk to him. On the way out, he spoke of him fondly: "I done worked that nigger! I worked him from goddamn sunup to sunset and then at four in the morning I'd get him up again. See, the white folk controlled everything then. They'd see that they didn't have no money for no school or teachers or nothing." The sharecropper, white-haired, gnarled, and leather-skinned, addressed the farmer and me as "sir." He said he had been born in the country, one of seventeen children. He hadn't had any school at all. He had eight children of his own, two in Canton and six in Champaign, Illinois. His wife had gone to St. Louis. It is not just a way of living that grew in the northern ghettos from seeds planted in the South but also a way of thinking. In the Chicago ghetto poor blacks use the verb stay instead of live, as in "I stay at Robert Taylor Homes." Besides implying an inconstant life, this comes from a perfectly sensible sharecroppers' locution: "I stay at the Smiths' place." Another northern ghetto term that comes from southern town life is "getting over," which is less translatable but means, roughly, doing what is necessary to survive and, if possible, succeed. While it does not cover violence, it would apply to hustling as well as to more legitimate pursuits. It comes from the idea of crossing the Jordan River to get to the Promised Land. Though the ghetto expression equivalent is not as sweet, getting over carries a positive connotation. At the thirtieth reunion of the Cameron Street High School class of 1955, everyone greeted with pure affection a man who had been raised by a widowed mother and dropped out of school before high school. Today he is a pimp in Jackson. At the reunion he was wearing leather cowboy boots, a three-piece silk suit with a shirt open at the neck, and a great deal of jewelry (gold chains with bejeweled pendants, enormous gold rings sprinkled with diamonds), and he provided an expensive sound system and a disc jockey. The Civil Rights movement in Canton got underway in 1963, when three organizers from the New Orleans office of the Congress of Racial Equality came to town and started a voter-registration drive, the highlight of which was a peaceful demonstration of more than a hundred blacks who showed up at the county courthouse on a Saturday to try to register. In 1964 northern college students descended on Canton for Freedom Summer. Blacks began boycotting the businesses that line the courthouse square, which wouldn't hire black clerks. Blacks played in the white park and swam in the white pool. A black woman from Canton, Annie Devine, went to the Democratic Convention, in Atlantic City, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Delegation. In 1966 Martin Luther King, Jr., came to town on his march through Mississippi with James Meredith; he spoke in the gymnasium of the Holy Child Jesus parochial school. White vigilantes burned down two black country churches where civil-rights meetings had been held, and planted a bomb in another black church, in town, which was discovered before it exploded. Twice at the movement's unofficial headquarters, a place in the black neighborhood known as Freedom House, shots were exchanged between people inside and whites in passing cars. Today in Canton, there are black elected officials, black firemen, and black policemen -- but only a few. Blacks hold a majority in the number of registered voters, though not a large one. The school system is officially integrated but almost all black; integration of the high schools was achieved by shutting down the white one and changing the name of the black school to Canton Public High School. Most whites go to a private school called Canton Academy, founded in 1965. All the streets in the black part of Canton are paved now, and just west of town is a new all black neighborhood of suburban-style brick bungalows. But there are still houses in the black part of town particularly in one city block of rental properties, that have two rooms, and outhouses instead of indoor toilets, and cracks you can see through in their clapboard walls. IV. Leaving the Ghetto The migration to the North transferred the black societies of Canton and a hundred towns like it, with all their complexities and problems, to Chicago. After that several factors combined to turn the small underclass that came up from the South into the large and separate culture that it is today. In the city -- away from the family, religious, and social structure of small-town life back home -- all the migrants experienced a loosening of the constraints on their behavior (a process that should be familiar to readers not only of black writers like Richard Wright and Malcolm X but also of Balzac and Dreiser). This was made more pronounced because blacks who moved to Chicago from the South were funneled into a ghetto that was strikingly crowded, walled off from the rest of society, and different from what its residents had known before. The greater prosperity of blacks in the North, however, meant that there was a strong leadership in the ghettos working to counteract the forces of social entropy. But then the working black population made its rapid exodus from the ghettos, leaving the underclass disastrously cut off from the rest of the world. Nearly all the blacks who moved went through some kind of change in their way of life from what they had known in the South -- even among the determinedly ambitious members of the Cameron Street High School class of 1955 who moved north, there were several cases of childbirth out of wedlock. Sometimes these led to marriage and sometimes they didn't; usually there was a complicated shuttling of parents and children back and forth from Canton, which offered more of a support system. But in none of these cases was having children out of wedlock related to either of its supposed prime causes, welfare or unemployment. The people involved never went on welfare, and they were not unemployed. It had to do instead with moving to the big city. Chicago's black elite observed the formalities of marriage, but many new arrivals did not, even if they came from a family back home in which illegitimacy had never occurred. "When my parents put me in the car to Chicago," says one Cantonian, "they were upset because they thought it was Sin City. And it was Sin City. It still is. I didn't get pregnant on purpose. I don't think anybody ever got pregnant on purpose. But now I'm glad, because my kids are grown up and I'm still young." The black illegitimacy rate has risen dramatically over the past twenty years, but the problem did not begin with the Great Society programs. Every first-hand observer of black society in this country has mentioned it in connection with both rural and ghetto life. E. Franklin Frazier, in his classic work The Negro Family in the United States (1939), attributed most black out-of-wedlock childbirths to southern migrants just arrived in the North. Sometimes, he said, migrants became pregnant because of "the absence of family traditions and community controls," and sometimes it was simply "the persistence in the urban environment of folkways" -- namely, the lack of a legal marriage ceremony -- "that were relatively harmless in the rural community." He cited a variety of statistics for urban black illegitimacy at the time, ranging as high as 30 percent of births, and he said that in the years just after Emancipation, when there was a more literal loosening of traditional bonds, the rate was probably higher. W. E. B. Du Bois, in The Philadelphia Negro (1899), mentioned far-above-average rates of illegitimacy in the poor black neighborhoods of Philadelphia in the late 1890s. Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944), using 1936 figures, cited a rate of 16 percent for all nonwhites, rising to 21 percent in the big cities of the South, where presumably the recent migrants from the country would then have been most concentrated and freest of social strictures. The nonwhite illegitimacy rate was eight times the white rate nationally, and more than sixteen times the rate among white first- and second-generation immigrants. Drake and Cayton, in Black Metropolis, said that the black lower class in Chicago in the forties "not only tolerates illegitimacy, but actually seems almost indifferent toward it." Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1965 report, "The Negro Family," put the 1963 rate at 23.6 percent nationally and as high as 49 percent in some parts of Harlem. I suspect that all these rates are skewed to the low side, because of the practice, common through the mid-sixties, of black women in the rural South and northern ghettos saying they were married when they were really just living with someone. I mention these figures in order to dispute the notion that either welfare or unemployment is the overarching reason for the explosion in the black illegitimacy rate. Drake and Cayton said that in Chicago during the depression almost half the black families were on welfare (admittedly, a less generous system than today's) or were supported by government work programs, but the national black illegitimacy rate hardly rose. During the Reagan years, as the welfare rolls have shrunk, the illegitimacy rate has gone up. Today, in fact, many more black women have children out of wedlock than go on welfare. As for black unemployment, whereas there is some statistical match between it and illegitimacy, the match is far from perfect. The Moynihan report, after factoring out blacks in the South, concluded that black unemployment rates had been double the white rates continuously since the early thirties, but the illegitimacy rate had not taken off until the 1950s. The point is not to deny that either welfare or unemployment is a factor in rising illegitimacy -- both plainly are. But there is a third factor: the rapid urbanization of most blacks, followed by the isolation of the black lower class in the cities. High illegitimacy has always been much more closely identified with blacks than with all poor people or all unemployed people or all immigrants. It is a peculiarity of black culture, and within than of the black lower class, and within that, of isolation; Frazier found the loosest attitude toward marriage in turpentine camps, where lowerclass black migrant workers lived in rows of cabins deep in the southern forests. If, from the late sixties through the early eighties, the black urban lower class became significantly more isolated than it ever had been before, wouldn't that help explain what happened? In Chicago and other northern cities there was a direct link between the magnitude of the black migration from the South and the degree of residential segregation imposed by whites. In 1898 only 11 percent of black Chicagoans lived in neighborhoods more than 75 percent black. In 1900 thirty-three of Chicago's thirty five wards were at least 0.5 percent black. As soon as the flow of migrants became significant, though, white hostility toward blacks surged, growing partly from pure prejudice, partly from fear of the importation of the social ills created by Jim Crow, partly from intense competition in the labor market. It is a pattern of long standing, reminiscent even of Canton in the mid-nineteenth century: a primal white antipathy toward the black masses, which always leads to the creation of iron restrictions on where blacks can live and work. In the summer of 1919, just as Chicago was absorbing the first big concentrated wave of southern migrants, white gangs started a riot at a Lake Michigan beach when a black swimmer ventured into a de facto white stretch of water. Violence, by both blacks and whites, spread through much of the South Side, lasted a week, and left thirty-eight people dead and 537 injured. In the late forties, with southern blacks again pouring into the city and racial tensions rising (there were riots when black veterans tried to move into temporary housing in white neighborhoods), Chicago, like many cities, began building many public-housing projects. At the time, integrated public housing was one of the great liberal causes, and it was also a constant, long-standing political demand of blacks. In the liberal dream, housing projects would be filled by a racially integrated, clean living, well-educated working class. Ward politicians with white constituents to keep happy were adamantly opposed to integration, though, and in 1949 the state legislature passed a law that boxed out the liberals by requiring that the Chicago City Council approve all public-housing sites. This virtually ensured that projects would be segregated. In 1950 Robert Taylor, the black chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, resigned in frustration at his inability to get the sites he wanted past the council. In 1953 there were protracted riots when one black family moved into a white housing project. In 1954 Elizabeth Wood, a Jane Addams-style reformer who was the CHA's director and longtime guiding spirit, and a great believer in integration, was forced out. From 1957 to 1968 the CHA built 15,591 housing units- almost all in high-rise buildings, almost all with black tenants, almost all in existing black ghettos. The private housing market was, by unwritten law, strictly segregated in most places. By 1970 Chicago was the most residentially segregated city in America. But because the segregation was by race, the ghetto was fairly well integrated by class. It was a community, with leaders and institutions -- poor, with unusual difficulties, but a community nonetheless. From the First World War through the mid-sixties the black leadership regarded the high crime and low marriage rates of the black lower class as problems it had to solve, sometimes with a sigh (the white folks on the Gold Coast weren't held responsible for the rough-and-tumble of poor-white Chicago). It would, in sociologists' language, help the lower class to acculturate. For years the Chicago Defender published what a city commission called "instructions on dress and conduct [that] had great influence in smoothing down improprieties of manner which were likely to provoke criticism and intolerance in the city." The big South Side churches all had memberships across the black economic spectrum, in contrast to the segregation by class that prevailed in white Protestant churches. The Urban League was founded with the purpose of teaching lower-class southern migrants the ways of city life. Drake and Cayton, commenting on a slogan made popular by the Defender, wrote, "When upperclass and middle-class people speak of 'advancing The Race,' what they really mean is creating conditions under which lower-class traits will eventually disappear and something approaching the middle class) way of life will prevail in Bronzeville." The black middle class knew that the black lower class would constantly be held up as the reason that all blacks had to be kept in certain neighborhoods and certain jobs; this was a grievous wrong, which had the side effect of giving the black middle class a strong vested interest in the uplift of the black lower class. Then the grievous wrong was righted. In January of 1966 Martin Luther King, Jr., moved into an apartment in North Lawndale and announced that he and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference would be focusing their energies on Chicago for a while. He called his Chicago project the "End Slums Campaign" and said it would be aimed at improving the conditions in overcrowded, poorly maintained inner-city black neighborhoods. During his time in Chicago his campaign underwent a crucial shift, though it may not have seemed that way then. John A. McDermott, at the time a young Catholic activist working in the civil-rights movement and later the publisher of a distinguished Chicago newsletter on race relations, says, "King would try one issue after another to see what would get a response. 'End Slums' did not generate a tremendous amount of popular support. It was not a simple good-versus evil issue. This was not Montgomery, Alabama. There were no overt racist laws or institutions. The problem of racism was more subtle. It was not clear it was a conspiracy. Some of the slumlords were black. "Then a group tried the issue of open housing. We held demonstrations in white neighborhoods that wouldn't let blacks in. The white reaction was one of panic and outrage. It was on the nightly news, and suddenly people saw that a) the laws were not being enforced, and b) white people were full of hate and anger. People suddenly woke up and literally poured into the movement." With the last great wave of southern migrants just arrived, North Lawndale was frustrated, tense, and swollen -- in 1960 its population was 25 percent higher than it had been ten years earlier, when North Lawndale was a white neighborhood, and nearly half the population was under twenty years old, compared with less than 30 percent in 1950. Gangs were starting to become a severe problem. In July of 1966 there was rioting on the West Side that required 1,500 National Guardsmen to restore order. The working, married, better-established part of the population desperately wanted to get out of the neighborhood. On August 5 King led an open housing demonstration in Marquette Park, then an all-white neighborhood, on the Southwest Side. The protection of more than 1,200 policemen did not stop his being hit in the head by a rock thrown by whites from the neighborhood. A knife thrown at him hit someone else. The demonstrators had to be evacuated in buses. On August 26 Mavor Richard Daley, under intense pressure from his white precinct captains to stop the demonstrations, finally sat down with King at the negotiating table. The result was a "summit agreement" devoted almost exclusively to the fair housing issue rather than to ending slums. What happened in Chicago is an especially dramatic version of what happened all over the country: just as the number of new, poor, migrant blacks in the cities reached its all-time peak, the country decided to mount a real attack on segregation in housing and employment, and otherwise to help those blacks capable of moving closer to the mainstream of American society to do so. The result is evident in the census data, as we have already seen: there has been another major migration of blacks over the past twenty years, out of the ghettos. Even more pronounced than the social and economic deterioration of the ghettos between 1970 and 1980 is their depopulation. North Lawndale was already losing population in the late sixties, and in the seventies more than half its black population moved away. The tenement house where King lived is a vacant lot now. In the same decade the area around Forty-seventh and South Parkway, the old vibrant heart of the South Side ghetto, lost 38 percent of its black population. The Robert Taylor Homes, whose extremely low rents and solid construction for years attracted long waiting lists, are now 20 percent vacant. All the ghetto schools, the overcrowding of which in the sixties was supposed to be a major cause of low achievement levels, have lost enrollment. This isn't happening just in Chicago. The South Bronx lost 37 percent of its population between 1970 and 1980. More than 100,000 black Chicagoans moved to the suburbs in the seventies; 224,000 blacks moved from Washington, D.C., to its suburbs, 124,000 from Atlanta to its suburbs. These are unusually high numbers for neighborhood population loss, and the comparable numbers today would be even higher. There's no mystery to why so many people left the ghettos. They wanted to feel safe on the streets, to send their children to better schools, and to live in more pleasant surroundings; in particular, riots drove many people away. Probably everyone who could leave did. Many businesses and churches (except for tiny "storefront" churches, which often are unaffiliated with any organized religion) left with them. What was unusual about the migration of the black working population out of the ghettos, compared with that of other immigrant groups, is that it was for many years delayed and then suddenly made possible by race-specific government policies. That's why it happened so fast. One reason that the numbers for unemployment and poverty and female-headed families in the ghettos have gone up so much is that nearly everyone who was employed and married moved away (also, the fertility rate of black married women has dropped substantially, which is a sign of assimilation into the middle class). Very quickly, around 1970, the ghettos went from being exclusively black to being exclusively black lower-class, and there was no countervailing force to the venerable, but always carefully contained, disorganized side of the ghetto culture. No wonder it flourished in the seventies. The "losing ground" phenomenon, in which black ghettos paradoxically became worse during the time of the War on Poverty, can be explained partly by the abrupt disappearance of all traces of bourgeois life in the ghettos and the complete social breakdown that resulted. Almost all of the Cantonians, when they arrived in Chicago in the late fifties and early sixties, lived in the traditional South Side ghetto, and then all but the very least fortunate left. Of the many success stories, everybody's favorite is that of the Sims family, who prove that it is possible to move unscarred from a peasant background in rural Mississippi to the upper middle class in one generation. Back home they started out as sharecroppers -- two parents and thirteen children working a fourteen-acre plot that was five miles from the nearest paved road. They did have a leg up: Juanita Sims had an unusually high degree of education, which is to say some high school; her father owned a thirty-one-acre plot of land, to which they eventually moved the family so that they could farm for themselves; and J. B. Sims was able to get a job laying pipeline for the city. Wendell Sims, the third daughter, graduated from Cameron Street High School in 1955 and immediately moved to Chicago, following the path of her sister Theresa, who had come up a few years earlier. On her first day in Chicago, Wendell found a job as an assembler at the Bancroft Clock factory, for less than a dollar an hour. After nine months she was laid off, and found a job in the mailroom at Montgomery Ward. She celebrated her thirtieth anniversary at Ward this spring -- she's now a supervisor in the data-control division. In 1961 she married Jack McIntosh, who had moved to Chicago just after his high school graduation in Rayville, Louisiana. He has been with AT&T in Skokie, Illinois, since 1960. Today they live in a beautiful white brick house in an integrated suburb called Matteson, and attend an integrated Lutheran church. They both have college diplomas from Chicago State, earned through years at night school. J. B. Sims, Jr., the oldest son in the family (the initials don't stand for anything), came to Chicago in 1957, at the age of eighteen, right after the fall harvest was finished. He arrived with $13.50 in his pocket. After a week he got a job in a laundry for ninety cents an hour, and soon after that he got a second job at another laundry. After several years of working two full-time jobs, he got a day job in a grocery store, underwent ministerial training at night, and then started a Baptist church in his basement -- Greater Tabernacle Missionary Baptist. The church flourished and moved to larger quarters. In 1975 he moved to a spacious brick house on the South Side. In 1978 he started a bus company that takes Chicago children to school, under contract from the board of education. In 1980 he felt secure enough to quit his job at the grocery store. Today he has forty-eight buses and owns a service station and a fourteen-unit apartment building. The church is just about to reopen in a new half million-dollar building. He is married, for the second time, and has one daughter and one stepdaughter. As the Sims family, and the rest of the Cantonians who made it, did better over the years, they fanned out steadily in the city, to the new working-class and lower middleclass black areas that were opening up in the seventies, mostly in formerly white areas to the south and west of the South Side ghetto. All of them now see the ghetto culture as unhealthy, something to keep one's kids away from. Mildred Nichols's sister, Doris Smith, teaches at Du Sable High School, most of whose students live in the Robert Taylor Homes, but sends her children to Kenwood, a much better public high school near the University of Chicago. Mildred Nichols's two children are both married and both working, and have two children each. Andre lives in Canton, Jacqueline in Chicago. Over the years, Nichols has helped two of her siblings move to Chicago to go to graduate school at Northwestern. This year, on Valentine's Day, she married William Burton, a security officer, and together they bought a neat brick bungalow on the far South Side. As most of the Cantonians who have moved to Chicago have thrived, so has the ghetto culture that grew in Chicago. Now the ghetto is coming home to Mississippi. In Canton today, at the black playground and down the street from the civil-rights movement's Freedom House, there are walls with spray-painted symbols of the Chicago gangs: the six-pointed star of the Disciples, the crossed pitchforks of the Vice Lords. On the evening of April 25, 1985, a young man named Percy Walker, nicknamed Squinky, got into a fight in a Canton bar with a man named Larry Ross. Later that night Ross stopped his car outside Walker's girlfriend's house, pulled out a shotgun, and fired at Walker point-blank. Walker died a few hours later in a hospital in Jackson. For his funeral a group of friends and relatives came down from Chicago in a phalanx of Cadillacs, which were decorated with Vice Lords symbols. Walker's life is a capsule version of the growth and spread of the underclass. His mother never married his father, who was from a sharecropper family, didn't have much school, and moved from Canton to Chicago shortly after Walker was born. (There the father was a hustler and was killed in a fight in a bar.) Walker was sent to Chicago to live with relatives when he was a teenager; he dropped out of school and was arrested for rape. On visits back to Canton he began dating a girl who lived down the street from his mother, and in 1983 they had a daughter. Before she was three she learned when people said "Vice Lords" to her to answer with the proper hand signal. #2 JULY 1986 The first installment of this two-part article described why black urban ghettos are poorer and more isolated today than they have ever been. The question remaining is how to reverse the effects of what has become a self-sustaining culture by Nicholas Lemann I. European Norms Today's black ghettos were created by two migrations: first the migration of rural and small-town black southerners to cities, usually in the North; then, for the past twenty years, the migration of the cities' black middle and working classes to middle-class neighborhoods. The problems that now seem overwhelming in the ghettos -- out-of-wedlock childbearing, unemployment, crime, poor educational achievement -- have existed in the ghettos for more than half a century. When the ghettos were multi-class societies, their leadership tried to keep the problems in check by preaching a classic immigrant ethic of assimilation -- if not into white society, at least into a society with middle-class values. In the late sixties, however, when the leadership left the ghettos, it stopped preaching to those who stayed behind. In fact, far from preaching to the ghettos, the official voices of society, both black and white, began defending the ghetto culture, arguing that it was merely a rational response to social and economic conditions and would change only when those conditions were changed by whites, and that to condemn it was to impose white values on a distinctive, valid, resilient culture Earlier this year Joyce Ladner, a professor of social work at Howard University, wrote in the National Urban League's annual report on the state of black America that no problem is "more threatening to future generations" of blacks than teen-age pregnancy. In 1971, though, in her book tomorrow's tomorrow, Ladner was writing, "Conceivably, there will be no 'illegitimate' children and 'promiscuous' women in ten years if there are enough middle-class white women who decide that they are going to disavow the societal canons regarding childbirth and premarital sexual behavior." The next year the National Urban League published a book called The Strengths of Black Families; in the foreword Andrew Billingsley, a sociologist who is now at the University of Maryland, wrote, "'The operation of General Motors, the State Department, and the Ford Foundation have more to do with the structure and functioning of Black family life than the attitudes, desires, and personal proclivities of all the young men and young women who have been the subject of sociological analyses." In his 1968 book Black Families in White America Billingsley complained about "the deeply held view that patterns of responses generated, practiced, or sanctioned in the white community are normal. and that any deviations from those norms which might be relevant or common in the black community are abnormal deviant, and to be highly disvalued." As a solution he suggested that "all the major institutions of society should abandon the single standard of excellence based on white European cultural norms." I saw this coincidence of the defense of ghetto culture and the migration out of the ghettos most plainly during time I recently spent in the ghetto in Chicago, when I met Al Sims, who was running a small branch office of the Urban League out of a former parochial school in the middle of the Cabrini-Green housing project, Chicago's most notorious. Sims was born in New Orleans and moved north with his family at the age of six. His father was a farm laborer in Louisiana; he came to Chicago in 1956, worked in construction, and after a year sent for his wife and nine children and installed them in an apartment at Cabrini-Green. "I remember very vividly getting off the train at Twelfth and Michigan and being picked up and taken here," Sims said. "It seemed like Shangri-la." Cabrini-Green was then all low-rise, and it housed many Second World War veterans and their families, both black and white. Today it is mostly high-rise and all black. The population of the high-rises is as much as 75 percent poor; 65 percent are under twenty-one and 80 percent are in female-headed families. The project has virtually no church attendance or legitimate business activity. The high school that serves it has a dropout rate of 89 percent. Four major gangs and close to a hundred subfactions are active there. All nine Sims children made it out of Cabrini-Green and into the middle class. "We were poor as dirt," Sims said. "But at a certain hour I had to be home. Mr. Sims wouldn't have it any other way. I credit my father. And the six or seven guys I hung out with, my buddies, they had smaller families, but they turned into zero. Tapped out. And they didn't have fathers." These days, he said, stories like his don't often happen. Why not? He said, "I believe America can make what it wants to work, work. White America would not allow white people to live like this. No way. The concept of genocide is very real, it gains meaning, when you think about black people in this town." He was fatalistic about ghetto culture -- it was not something within the power of the residents of Cabrini-Green to control, because the outside forces that had created it were so powerful. Couldn't teenagers stop having children, and finish school, and get jobs, and get out? "It's just not going to happen that way. We can't turn back the clock and have Ozzie and Harriet." Sims had mentioned that he had a young daughter; I asked him what he would do if, as an unmarried teenager, she got pregnant. He looked at me with utter shock; we were no longer talking abstract social forces. "I would die. That would kill me," he said. Of the millions of black Americans who have risen from poverty to the middle class since the mid-sixties, virtually all have done so by embracing bourgeois values and leaving the ghetto. So it is worth exploring why black and white leaders have fiercely resisted telling these secrets to the people left behind. One reason is pure compassion -- a feeling that anyone who understood where the problems of the ghetto had come from and how deep-seated they were could not expect lower-class blacks simply to set them aside. Another, maybe more important, reason is that for almost two centuries whites, especially in the South, have argued that blacks make up a separate caste, because they are immoral, irresponsible, and of inferior intelligence. In the black view, what whites have done, to justify keeping all blacks down, is to point to problems that the whites themselves have created, through centuries of slavery, segregation, and enforced poverty and ignorance. So a tradition has grown up of not discussing within the hearing of whites issues like out-of-wedlock childbirth, poor educational achievement, and crime. This prohibition was especially strong in the late sixties, when the old racial barriers were finally being broken down, and it is still strong. Over and over I heard from middle class blacks the belief that public discussions of ghetto problems would affect the way they were treated, or at least thought of, by whites. Glenn Loury, a professor at Harvard who is a prominent member of a new generation of conservative black intellectuals, last year in an article in The Public Interest offered a more cynical explanation for the resistance of established blacks to soul-searching about the underclass: "More fortunate blacks benefit, through the political system, from the conditions under which the poorest blacks must live.... The growing black 'underclass' has become a constant reminder to many Americans of a historical debt owed to the black community. Were it not for the continued presence of the worst-off of all Americans, blacks' ability to sustain public support for affirmative action, minority business set-asides, and the like would be vastly reduced.... The evidence suggests that, for many of the most hotly contested public policies advocated by black spokesmen, not much of the benefit "trickles down" to the truly poor." Loury told me recently that after he wrote an earlier article criticizing the black leadership, Benjamin Hooks, the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called him. "He said, 'Look, I'm a civil-rights leader. Sure, I know these problems exist, but my job is to hold white people's feet to the fire. In these years of Ronald Reagan and turning the clock back, how can I go around criticizing little black kids?' Then I had a private meeting with a group of black leaders: Carl Holman, of the National Urban Coalition; John Jacob, of the National Urban League; Walter Fauntroy [the District of Columbia's representative in Congress]; Joseph Lowery, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Coretta King. I made a one-hour presentation. I said the real problem is the problem of the black poor, and civil-rights activism is largely irrelevant, though not" -- he winked -- "if you want to own a TV station. I said, 'You people have exhausted a lot of moral capital with your whining.' The reaction was quite amazing. I got no real rebuttal. They said, 'We appreciate your contribution. We're proud of you. A young black scholar like you being on the faculty at Harvard is what we were fighting for in the sixties. But you have to be careful of when and how you say these things."' It is not only the black leadership that has a strong interest in avoiding the subject of the underclass. The black equivalent of Middle America does too. The primary link between the black middle class and the underclass has been one of blood kinship. The underclass was not a neatly defined national issue -- it was Aunt Mary, whose husband had left her and who had gone on welfare and moved to the projects. That is changing now, as members of the underclass lose social and family contact with their better-off friends and relatives. But there is still a link during the workday. An unusual proportion of blacks work for government -- 27 percent as against 16 percent of whites. Many of these jobs are in the ghetto: schoolteacher, postal worker, social worker, bus driver, police officer. The middle-class black neighborhoods in Chicago are full of people who commute to the ghetto to work. The daily contact leads many middle-class blacks to see the ghetto as a collection of individual hard-luck stories rather than as a problem that would be solved through some sweeping new government policy. Because the bifurcation of black society is still young, for many middle-class blacks the subject of the underclass strikes close to home. Glenn Loury grew up in a middle-class neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He fathered two children out of wedlock, and says that his family made economic progress in large part because his relatives ran speakeasies and sold marijuana. He says that he grew up being encouraged to keep a string of girlfriends and to refer to all women as "bitches." Although he does not bristle at condemnations of illegitimacy, crime, and the pimp ethos among ghetto blacks, many people with his life story would. II. Blaming the Victim The public debate about the underclass has for many years been dominated by two views of poor blacks, one considering them collectively (blacks are the victims of racial, economic, and welfare policies not in their power to change) and the other considering them individually (blacks can make their lives better through personal effort). In black politics and intellectual life the debate was symbolized for most of the twentieth century by a struggle between the followers of W. E. B. Du Bois and those of Booker T. Washington. Du Bois, whose family had been free for generations, belonged to the small group of blacks whose suffering consisted primarily of caste barriers, rather than ignorance, hunger, poverty, or social disorganization. He and the organization with which he was long identified, the NAACP, championed the cause of complete legal equality; although he was well aware of the social problems of the black lower class, they weren't at the center of his political agenda. Washington, born a slave on a plantation, was willing to put civil rights off for another day and concentrate on a program of self-help for the great mass of poor blacks, which was intended to turn them into a segregated but economically self-sufficient working and artisan class. Over the years, the Du Bois position gained ground. The idea of self-help for blacks was all but forgotten in the legal struggle over civil rights; the idea even became unrespectable. In the late fifties and early sixties, when the migration from the South swelled the urban ghettos until they were impossible to ignore, liberals began to discover the problems of the black lower class. At the time, the conservative and centrist position in the northern cities, articulated by Mayor Richard Daley, of Chicago, among others, was that blacks were just like any other immigrant group and would gradually move into the mainstream of city life. (Daley's own group, the Irish, had a large and troubled underclass in the nineteenth century.) Liberal intellectuals began to focus on how blacks differed from other immigrant groups -- the much greater degree of oppression they had suffered, as this country's only non-voluntary immigrants and only slaves, and the deep psychological scars left by the black experience. The implication was that society had to do something special for blacks, though it hadn't for other immigrants; the ghettos would not heal themselves. Three books that give the tenor of liberal thought at the time are Slavery, by Stanley Elkins (1959), Crisis in Black and White, by Charles Silberman (1964), and Dark Ghetto, by Kenneth B. Clark (1965). Elkins, a white historian, compared slaves to the inmates of Nazi concentration camps, as a way of showing the harshness of the system and the psychological devastation that was its legacy. Silberman, a white journalist, was prophetic about the coming explosion in the ghettos and about the underclass. Clark, a black social scientist, was still more prescient; he predicted in terms that must have seemed extreme that crime, unemployment, and a splintered family life would be characteristics of the ghetto for a long time. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's famous 1965 report to President Johnson on the Negro family was very much of this school of thought; its characterization of ghetto life as a "tangle of pathology" -- which some black scholars, including Andrew Billingsley, attacked as racist -- came directly from Clark. Its subtitle was, significantly, "The Case for National Action." Moynihan saw it as the intellectual underpinning for new government programs. Blacks did not like being characterized as devastated and pathological, especially by whites; it was insulting. Also, it seemed a short step from the liberal position that the ghettos were horrible and needed help to the conservative position that the ghettos were horrible and should be given up on. And so emerged an odd, hybrid ideology that had the force of absolute consensus: Yes, the ghettos were devastated, but from without; there was nothing wrong with the people in them. The final nail in the coffin of Booker T. Washingtonism was a brilliant three-word phrase: "blaming the victim." Its inventor, William Ryan, a psychology professor at Boston College, wrote an early, influential attack on the Moynihan report, and in 1970 published a book titled Blaming the Victim. Explaining the phrase, he wrote, "This is how the distressed and disinherited are redefined in order to make it possible for us to look at society's problems and to attribute their causation to the individuals affected." In other words, ills that are society's fault are attributed to the people suffering from them, whose fault they manifestly are not. The growth of the idea that the ghetto was a valid "community" came just at the time when it was ceasing to be a community, because its leaders and institutions were moving away. Nonetheless the idea was responsible for the federal Community Action Program, a part of the War on Poverty, in which ghetto residents, instead of intrusive social workers, were supposed to be the agents of their own progress. In Chicago this led to the awarding of federal communication funds to "community leaders" like the Blackstone Rangers (forerunner gang of the El Rukns) and the Vice Lords. Silberman, who caught some of the early community action enthusiasm, ended his book with a glowing chapter on the regeneration of the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago through the organizing efforts of Saul Alinsky's The Woodlawn Organization. At the time, TWO was widely publicized as a model of effective community development. Today TWO is still respected in Chicago, but it certainly did not revive Woodlawn. The census figures available when Silberman was writing showed that Woodlawn had 81,000 residents. In 1970 it had 54,000, and in 1980 it had 36,000 -- 38 percent of its black residents moved away in ten years. The way up was not through community development. It was through getting out. The view that conditions in the ghetto would change only when white society decided to change them seems contradictory to the creed of community development, but it really isn't. The connection is this: if there is not a self-defeating culture in the ghettos, and if the ghettos nonetheless have problems, then white society must be to blame -- who else could it be? The changes by white society that would heal the ghettos were usually described as "deep," "sweeping," and "structural." Ryan wrote that "the solution lies in action to change the balance of power." The trouble with this argument is that it is defeatism clothed in hope. This country so far has been unideological and uninclined to engage in deep, structural change except by accident and in order to meet pressing needs. To single out poor blacks as the one group in our society that will really suffer unless deep, structural changes are made, or unless an entirely different value system takes hold, is to consign them to suffering for the foreseeable future. I got to know a group of people in Chicago who had grown up in the town of Canton, Mississippi, migrated north in the fifties, and mostly done well there. They regularly talked to me about the importance of making something of oneself, with a fervor that would cause Norman Vincent Peale to blush. But they also felt entirely comfortable with the view of black problems in America as collective ones: they were comfortable with the opinions voiced by the black leadership, and they reflected the collective view in the way they talked about their own lives. The view of blacks as masters of their own fate and the view of blacks as objects of the will of whites exist simultaneously. I often heard conversations salted with references to "Mister Charlie" and "Miss Ann" or just "the Man," symbols of the all-powerful white. That all whites can be consolidated into one symbolic personage suggests a feeling among blacks that whites work in perfect concert while blacks work individually and often quarrelsomely -- exactly the opposite of a view common among whites. The persistence of black anti-Semitism long after the Jewish merchants have left the ghettos -- replaced in Chicago by Arabs, ironically -- further testifies to the enduring appeal of the idea of an all-powerful white villain, in this case not "Mister Charlie" but "Goldberg." The sneaking admiration that some middle-class blacks who would never dream of joining the Nation of Islam feel for Louis Farrakhan is stated in terms of his standing up to whites, being unintimidated by them. He's what St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, in their 1945 book about the Chicago ghetto, Black Metropolis, called a "Race Man": "Negroes tend to admire an aggressive Race Man even when his motives are suspect. They will applaud him, because, in the face of the white world, he remains 'proud of his race and always tries to uphold it whether it is good or bad, right or wrong.'" III. The Ghetto Today Black Americans at every level -- even those in the very bosom of the bourgeoisie, who work for white companies and live in affluent and sometimes integrated neighborhoods -- still feel themselves to be apart from white America. It is impossible to imagine any other ethnic group able to support a slick commercial magazine like Ebony wanting to -- the other groups are too much a part of the mainstream culture. (Ebony, by the way, constantly preaches both self-help and collective action for blacks.) As apart as all of black life is, ghetto life is a thousand times more so, with a different language, economy, educational system, and social ethic. White society, though physically less than a mile away from the Chicago ghetto, is so distant that in the ghetto I rarely heard an, hint of the intense race consciousness that pervades the rest of black society. Everything that has happened to lower-class blacks over the decades, every new twist, from segregation to the migration north to the civil-rights movement, seems to have separated them from society even more -- separated them from whites, from the South, from middle-class black life, and finally even from uplifting preachment. They are immigrants who not only have not assimilated in the new land but may even have become more insular there. The ghetto today has schools and hospitals, heat and running water; those of its residents who use the system of welfare and food stamps have enough to eat. But the institutions that are supposed to ameliorate ghetto life (schools, public housing, the police, welfare agencies) give off a feeling not of hope or progress but of containment -- of not letting things get out of hand to the point where life outside the ghetto would be directly affected. Orr High School, on the west side of Chicago, was designed by Mies Van der Rohe. It is a good example of his institutional style, with exposed steel girders, brick walls, and broad expanses of glass windows. Inside it is divided into several "houses" with their own libraries, cafeterias, and other facilities, in order to foster a feeling of educational intimacy. "The design of this building is not the design needed in a neighborhood like this," says the principal, Kenneth Van Spankeren, and it has been altered. Most of the glass has been replaced with an unbreakable plastic material called Lexan, which has turned cloudy. The parking lot is surrounded by a fifteen-foot wire-mesh fence and kept locked during the school day. An unarmed security guard is posted at the entrance, one of five on duty in the school every day and an armed policeman patrols the corridors. The interior stairwells are kept locked and are monitored by teachers. A few years ago the Chicago Tribune published an article about Van Spankeren, presenting him as an unusually successful inner-city high school principal. What this means is that he has been able to maintain order. The students have to wear plastic ID cards at school, can't wear gang symbols (the Vice Lords control the area), can't leave the building, and can't move freely inside the building. "We have a very close relationship with the Eleventh District police," Van Spankeren told me. "The area outside is under constant surveillance." On the morning when we met, preparations were under way for a school dance, to be held at three in the afternoon and under tight security in order to avoid violence. The next morning, during first period, Van Spankeren's voice came over the loudspeaker, congratulating the students on the fact that the dance was held without incident. "We appreciate that, and we expect it," he said. "Students, make sure you have your ID cards, and they're on. Teachers, check and take attendance. Thank you, and have a nice day." There are 2,000 students at Orr, 800 of them freshmen; as at all the ghetto schools nowadays, the faculty has to worry less about how to handle overcrowded classrooms than about whether there will be enough students to maintain the ratio needed to avoid layoffs. Eighty percent of the students are black, 20 percent are Hispanic, and most are from poor, single-parent homes supported by welfare. The great majority are well below their grade level in achievement. In most recent years about 200 have graduated. The PTA has twenty members. Because it is virtually impossible for a Chicago teacher to be fired or even transferred, Van Spankeren has little leeway in picking his faculty. Most of the teachers I met at Orr were dedicated, but they had almost given up on teaching the students -- instead, their emphasis was on maintaining a cheery atmosphere during class. I dropped in on Cindy Slevko's remedial mathematics class for freshmen. The students were working at their desks. "Right now they're working on homework they didn't do," she told me. "We're supposed to have eighteen in the class, and we have twelve today, which isn't too bad. In the sophomore demote class we'll have eighteen and only six will show up." She had me look at some of the students' answers to problems: 4/8 = 1/4; 15 14/10 = 15 4/10; 21/12 = 19/12. Sleyko said, "Now, look at problem twenty-nine here. They'd all get that wrong." The problem was 7 minus 4 2/3. In Pat Michalski's earth-science class the students were watching the movie Forbidden Planet as a lesson in astronomy and also as a reward for finishing a difficult part of the course; it would take up three full class periods. Michalski, sitting in a small office off the classroom, said, "You have to regulate everything with these kids. Rules all the time. A lot are used to being hit. Their homes are constant noise." A deep voice came out of the room where the students were watching the movie: "Where Miss Michalski at?" She walked in, consulted with one of the boys, and came back to her office. "He wanted to know if that was the monster. That kid's a senior!" She pointed to a hand-lettered sign she'd hung over her desk, which said: DID YOU Ever Know That Your My HERO! And Everything I'd Like TO Be: "That's by a junior! I know it looks like third grade," Michalski said. She motioned me into a corner of the classroom and whispered, "You wouldn't believe which of these kids are parents." I counted while she pointed: seven. In Joe Valenziano's American-history class, the students were finishing their homework from the night before, which consisted of answering a series of questions by copying the answers out of textbooks. For handing this in the students would get five bonus points on their next exam. Valenziano said, "This is the old rote method of learning. You read it, you write it down. It seems to be working for me. I've been here sixteen years, and I've tried everything. " A student put a paper on his desk. Some of the answers were copied correctly and others were not: Who was George III? "He was a spy." Explain the role of blacks in the Revolutionary War: "forming of America." Valenziano glanced at the paper and wrote a 5 on it. "If it looks good and they answer the questions, they get five points," he said. "I want them to copy! I call it sharing. See, these kids can't do homework like you and me. I learned this from working in an inner-city school. Sure, when I first came here I had all these pie-in-the-sky ideas. People might say it's cheating, but we all copy as adults. We all plagiarize as adults. There's nothing wrong with it." Du Sable High School, which has 1,900 students, has even worse demographics than Orr -- its parents are 100 percent poor -- but the atmosphere is warmer, perhaps because it has a long history as one of the linchpin institutions in what was once a real community. The assistant principal, Luke Helm, who has been at Du Sable for twenty-five years, told me one morning, "Historically, this has been the stepping stone to the black middle class -- from poverty to the middle class. But we're no longer working with the same population. The people we're getting now, sixty-eight percent come from Robert Taylor Homes [a massive housing project across the street]. We have a fifty-one percent dropout rate. The reasons are legion; pregnancy is the biggest. [Du Sable became famous last year because its clinic began to dispense birth control to students. ] There's one gang here, the Disciples. We do not have gang problems in the building. We've been very lucky. We're pretty much in control of the building. They understand turf. This turf is ours. We know who the gang leaders are, we do talk to them, and we do have an understanding." The overwhelming majority of Du Sable parents live within two blocks of the school, but the PTA, called Parents United to Save Du Sable, has just fifteen members, and it exists only because of the efforts of an energetic mother named Brenda Holmes. In 1982 it didn't have any members. Only 60 percent of the parents come in to sign their children's report cards, which is a three-times-a-year duty. Of the 800 boys at Du Sable, as many as a hundred are former inmates of a home for juvenile criminals. One of the classes I went to at Du Sable was an introductory English class made up of fourteen- and fifteen-year-old students who read at between the third- and the sixth grade level. The teacher, Anthony Eirich, a big, energetic man, was teaching Julius Caesar. "'And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you what great events have taken place today.' See, he's saying, 'What's happening?' Remember when we had a fighter named Cassius?" No response. "Cassius Clay." He went around the class asking the kids to read lines out loud. Some did pretty well, but a couple obviously couldn't read at all. One wouldn't even open his book when Eirich asked him to read. "Why doesn't he like Cassius -- because he's what?" Eirich said. One kid called out, "Fat!" "No, he's lean and hungry. Cassius is smart. What wouldn't the slavemasters let the slaves do?" No response. "Go to school! Can Vrdolyak roll over Mayor Washington?" A chorus of nos. "Why not? Because he's smart! Look at Ebony. Forty years of progress. People speaking their mind. Cassius thinks too much. Julius Caesar was a famous man. See, Doctor King, they'll be writing plays about him one day." In another English class, while the students were busy copying the definitions of words out of the dictionary, the teacher, Gwendolyn Jones, showed me some homework she had graded A. The students were asked to summarize famous short stories. One was Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place": "He old man is a deaf man who is tiring to make a living." "He don't cares about anything but his self.... When the clock hits 3 o'clock he get very mad." "He tries to kill his self by hanging his self by rope." On Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart": "He don't want to kill the old man.... When he do kill him cuts off the head." Jones showed me the TAP (Test of Aptitude and Proficiency) reading scores for the class, which rank them by national percentile. Most were in the 30s; the lowest was 4; but one was 92. I asked to meet that last student, and Jones called her over. Her name was Lorese Lewis. She didn't live in the Robert Taylor Homes: she lived in a two-parent home, and her father worked. It was my strong impression that the gap between her and the other kids was one of sociological conditions much more than of basic intelligence. The usual feeder school for Du Sable is the Beethoven School, which is in the middle of the Robert Taylor Homes. As with other schools in the area, its enrollment is dropping rapidly, down from 1,400 in 1977 to 900 today. Its budget, linked to enrollment, is dropping too, but it is still generous. Sue Fowlkes, the principal. told me, "My total budget in '85 was three-point-two million. In the early eighties additional funds were channeled into the school as a result of a desegregation decree. It was felt that otherwise our low achievement levels would never go up. But they have not gone up with more money. The scores fluctuate up and down. Up through third grade we're running about six to eight months below median. In the middle grades it's a year, a year and a half. In seventh and eighth it's at least a year and a half or maybe more. The discipline problems start in the primary grades. Every now and then a kid will start acting out in the first grade -- hitting the next child. I start to see gang signs with around fourth or fifth graders. In second and third grade you may see them calling out the gang names on the playground. Pregnancy generally starts in the eighth grade. This year" -- and it was only three months into the school year when we talked -- "I'm running five." Of the students who manage to get as far as high school graduation perhaps half will go on to college, but most of these will attend a nearly all black two-year community college in Chicago. The transfer rates from the community colleges to four-year colleges is very low -- at the one with the lowest rate, Malcolm X College, on the West Side, only 5.8 percent of the students go on to a four-year college. Most of these students attend Chicago State, which is 80 percent black and has a de facto open admissions policy. By far the most common choice of career for its graduates is education (Chicago State began as a teacher's college), and most of those who become teachers go to work in the Chicago public schools. Housing projects in the ghettos, like schools, have such a terrible reputation today that it is easy to forget that as recently as a generation ago there was an aura of hope around them. Even the Robert Taylor Homes, which were meant to contain the tide of black migrants from the South inside the traditional ghetto (an interstate highway runs along their western border and the old ghetto abuts the other three sides), were opened in a spirit of some optimism. For years reformers had believed in Le Corbusier's precept that high-rise housing built in "superblocks" with no through streets would be the ideal form of urban life. More prosaically, the Robert Taylor Homes replaced an old black lower-class strip of shanties and junkyards with clean, modern, well-constructed buildings that had reliable plumbing and heating. Even today the apartments there, though spartan, are pretty nice. Almost from the start, however, the Robert Taylor Homes had problems. The reason is that they were designed and filled according to what now looks like a perfect recipe for sociological disaster: large-family apartments in high-rises, and little or no screening for residents. In its early days public housing was in practice barred to the underclass. When the first black public-housing project in Chicago, the low-rise Ida B. Wells Homes, on the South Side, opened in 1941, single-parent families were excluded as a matter of policy. Beyond that, as Devereux Bowly, Jr., wrote in The Poorhouse, a history of subsidized housing in Chicago, "An elaborate investigation was made of Chicago Housing Authority applicants that included: 1) an office interview by a social worker, 2) employment verification, 3) check for a police record, 4) home visit by an investigator, and 5) scoring on a CHA formula giving preference to applicants in substandard apartments with insufficient income to get good housing on the private market." It is common in Chicago to meet successful blacks in their late thirties and early forties who spent part of their childhood in the projects. In the mid-fifties, after the reformist director of the CHA, Elizabeth Wood, was forced out and replaced by a retired Army general named William B. Kean, the CHA began to de-emphasize screening. At the same time, it was becoming committed to high-rise buildings, to large-family apartments, and to building only in black ghettos. J. S. Fuerst, a professor at Loyola University who worked at the CHA in those days, says, "You can't put four thousand units in a place. And if you do, you can't suck it with the most troubled families. But Elizabeth Wood left, and General Kean said, 'Oh, no, it's got to be first come, first served.' And then they proceeded to accept people twenty years old, with three, four, five kids, and no husband." In the Robert Taylor Homes the buildings that were completed first are still, twenty-five years later, considered the best, because there was more screening. The ones completed last, and filled using virtually no screening, are the worst. As in the ghetto as a whole, so in the projects: where they became all lower class and cut off from the rest of society, everything fell apart. Ron Gate, a freelance writer and former radio reporter who grew up in the Taylor Homes (he credits Luke Helm, at Du Sable, with motivating him to get out), was an example of the unscreened Taylor tenant. He is one of nine children who in the early sixties were living with their grandmother in a house on the West Side. Their mother had severe psychological problems (once she was found wandering aimlessly down the street, wrapped in a bedsheet), and left the family. Later the family was evicted from the house and for a while lived at the Salvation Army. From there they moved to the Robert Taylor Homes. Tate doesn't know where either of his parents or any of his brothers and sisters are today, and he doesn't know anything about his parents' families in Mississippi. One day Date took me back to his old building in the Taylor Homes. Though turnover there is high, a few of his friends were still around. The male contemporaries of his that I met were all unemployed or working odd jobs, and invariably they asked him if he knew where there were any good jobs. His female contemporaries were all single mothers, or single and pregnant. The worst part of daily life in the Taylor Homes is the constant crime and fear of crime. In a typical four-week period last year seventy-nine felonies and one hundred misdemeanors were reported there -- far fewer than the real number of crimes, because in the projects the gangs are more powerful than the police and are known to retaliate against informers. Sergeant Leroy O. Grant, a police-community liaison officer with the Chicago Police Department's public-housing unit, which has its headquarters in the Taylor Homes, told me, "Once, a mother wouldn't prosecute a rape of her fourteen-year-old because of fear of retaliation. I don't know if that happens in any other place in the world. But around here, if somebody knocks on your door at four in the morning to say 'Don't go to court,' there's no man to answer." I got a look at what they were talking about one night when I was with two policemen from the Second District, which includes the Taylor Homes. There was a report of a shooting in a small apartment building. Inside the apartment from which the call to the police had come were four boys in their late teens, two girls, two small children, and an old woman in a wheelchair. A coat lay in the bathtub with hot water running over it, forming reddish pools in the tub. One of the boys was shot in the wrist. His story was that he had been standing on the front steps of the building and was shot by a stranger in a passing car. Everybody had a slightly different version of the incident, always skimpy on the details. "Who do you run with, man?" one of the policemen asked the boys. "The Ds." The policemen took the boy who was shot to the hospital, where, tight-lipped and grimacing in pain, he refused to file a complaint against anyone or to say anything else about what had happened. There have always been high crime rates in black ghettos, and a casualness about them in the rest of society. In the early years of this century the black ghetto in Chicago, like those in many cities, was the prostitution and gambling center, and it is courthouse lore that when a black kills another black it is a "misdemeanor murder." Police foot patrols, which do seem to reduce crime, are intermittent: the corridors of the Tavlor Homes are "visually checked" (a cursory patrol) daily and thoroughly patrolled twice a week. The Second District has four men on foot patrol, but only during the day and only in the commercial strips. There's ample evidence in the ghetto to support the liberal theory that poverty and unemployment cause crime, and also for the conservative theory that lax punishment causes it. In Chicago in 1985 there were 277,000 crimes serious enough to be listed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report. Because Illinois doesn't keep "offender-based statistics," which track criminals from arrest through prison, it is impossible to say exactly how many of these crimes were punished, but it was certainly a small fraction. The chance that a criminal will get away with it in Chicago, assuming he is not a murderer or a rapist, is thought to be somewhere between 90 and 95 percent. And these are the odds after an attempt was made to increase punishment: in 1978 the Illinois legislature instituted mandatory minimum six-year sentences, without parole, for major crimes other than murder. The law has had no dramatic effect on the crime rate. The hiring of many new black policemen in the seventies, as the result of a court order, did not affect the crime rate either, though it is rare today to hear the police described as racist. In the vicinity of the Robert Taylor Homes crime has dropped in the past couple of years, but the police attribute this to the depopulation of the area. Nobody in the ghetto has a sense that any kind of reform of legal procedure would significantly reduce crime. IV. Ways Out of the Ghetto Discussions in Washington about how to overcome the problems of ghettos through national policy-making tend to flit almost randomly in and out of relevance to real ghetto life. But they cannot be dismissed. Ghettos are a national problem, and aside from continuing to change on their own, they will change because of what happens next in government. A number of ideas about improving ghettos have been put forward, but two have particular momentum right now: workfare and self-help. Both are conservative causes of long standing that, because of the tenor of the times, are being taken seriously by liberals, too. Workfare means tying government welfare benefits to work by the recipients. It is an old idea, dating back at least to the workhouses built for the "undeserving poor" of early-nineteenth-century England. The philosophical justification for workfare is that it is wrong for anyone to get money from the government without doing something in return; the practical justification is that welfare dependency does exist, as almost anybody who lives in a ghetto will tell you, and something should be done to guard against it. Ten years ago workfare was routinely dismissed as "slavefare." Now thirty-nine states have some form of work program for welfare recipients. These range, to cite the two best-known examples, from Massachusetts's program, which requires signing up but no further participation, to California's brand-new system, which actually penalizes welfare recipients for not working or joining a training program. It is a natural guess that the comprehensive study of the welfare system that President Reagan commissioned earlier this year might end with a recommendation for a national workfare program -- for example, all welfare recipients except mothers with children under school age might be required to work in order to receive benefits. National workfare won't happen, however because it would conflict with a deeply held conservative principle: that welfare policy should be made by the states or, if possible, by local governments. The Administration will probably propose giving welfare grants to the states and letting them make their own policy, with a strong hint that workfare is the path of virtue. "I don't believe it's possible for the federal government to run a workfare program," says Robert B. Carleson, who was the architect of President Reagan's reform of the California welfare system and has been consulted on the welfare-reform study. "The country is too big, with too many variations in the labor market. Detailed federal regulations won't work for New York City and rural Idaho and Puerto Rico at the same time." In 1981 the Administration succeeded in rescinding a federal ban on state workfare programs -- Carleson, then working in the White House, spearheaded the effort. It is possible that the big northeastern states, which have the worst ghettos, will decide against mandatory workfare programs if given the choice, and the system will stay essentially the same as it is now. The new self-help movement is essentially a renascence of the old Booker T. Washington creed, minus the acceptance of legal segregation. Its main proponents are conservative black intellectuals outside the old-line elite black national leadership: Glenn Loury; Robert Woodson, of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, in Washington; Thomas Sowell, of the Hoover Institution, at Stanford University; Walter Williams, of George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. Self-help proponents believe that poor blacks have been crippled by the habit of looking to government for salvation and that they need to develop a tradition of self-reliance, perhaps through small-scale entrepreneurship. They would have the government and the black leadership promote self-help not by passing legislation and spending money but by pointedly refusing to do these things, and talking about values instead. Among the many other current ideas about policies for the ghettos two deserve mention. One, which in any Democratic Administration would receive more attention than it does now, is the classic liberal solution: trying to achieve full employment and creating special job-training and public-service employment programs in the ghettos. A working ghetto population would mean less crime and less out-of-wedlock childbirth. The other idea is conservative in origin: creating enterprise zones in the ghettos -- small and nearly libertarian states that would have radically lower levels of taxation and regulation than the rest of the country, and would produce many jobs. Enterprise zones, like liberal suggestions for policy, are supposed to help the ghettos by reducing unemployment. None of these solutions takes as a given the idea that the ghettos have a separate, self-sustaining culture. Therefore none has the goal of wresting people in the ghettos from the grip of the culture. Even the self-help movement, one of whose axioms is the importance of culture in shaping behavior, promotes ideas like the privatization of housing projects -- implying that the ghettos can be made to function as real communities. The evidence of black success so far, however, seems to indicate that the best hope for people in the ghettos lies in their establishing some link to the outside world. Both of the most pressing problems -- unemployment and out-of-wedlock childbearing -- illustrate how difficult it will be to heal the ghettos without taking on cultural issues directly. More than twenty years ago Kenneth Clark wrote of Harlem. "If all its residents were employed it would not materially alter the pathology of the community." The statistic that best shows how pathology has outrun unemployment is the rate of labor-force participation -- a statistic that includes not only those working but also the unemployed who have looked for work during the past month. The rate of labor-force participation for black teenage boys fell from 60 percent in 1940 to 36 percent in 1970, a fall too great to be accounted for by just unemployment or by the increasing proportion of black teenagers in school. There was a sharp drop in teenage labor-force participation in the ghettos in the late sixties, when national unemployment was quite low. There is some evidence that participation in the labor force does increase when more jobs become available. In 1980 Houston, which then had a very low unemployment rate and many unskilled blue-collar jobs, had a labor-force participation rate for all blacks that was 13 percentage points higher than Chicago's. And the percentage of households made up of single mothers was lower in Houston, which might indicate a correlation between more jobs for men and less out-of-wedlock childbearing. But today a national boom, and even a labor shortage, is under way in unskilled, low-paying, non-industrial jobs. This is bad news for steelworkers but should be good news for black teenagers, as it has been for the new wave of immigrants from foreign countries. The standard argument about why the labor shortage has not affected labor-force participation in the ghettos is that most of the jobs are in the suburbs, and that kids today watch TV and see a swank way of life that makes working for "chump change" seem pointless to them. But these kids' parents and grandparents saw the sweet life at much closer range, because they often worked inside rich white people's houses in the South, and still many were motivated enough to move hundreds of miles away, for jobs slaughtering cattle. A fundamental reason that so many unmarried teenagers have children in the ghetto today seems to be that having them has become a custom -- a way of life. The story I heard over and over from teenage mothers was that their pregnancies were not accidental. Their friends were all having babies. Their boyfriends had pressured them into it, because being a father -- the fact of it, not the responsibility -- is a status symbol for a boy in the ghetto. Welfare does provide an economic underpinning for out-of-wedlock childbearing, but it is rare to hear about a girl who had a baby just to get on welfare. Out-of-wedlock childbearing in ghettos existed before there was any welfare. It is the aspect of life in the ghettos over which the people there have the most control, and it will be the last and hardest thing to change. It is today by far the greatest contributor to the perpetuation of the misery of ghetto life. Although the problems of the ghettos seem to resist economic solution, they do seem to respond to the imposition of a different, and more disciplined, culture. People who joined the Army or the Marines right after high school credit the decision with getting them out of the ghettos. The Black Muslims, in their heyday, were widely respected in the ghettos for being the only people who could turn around prostitutes and heroin addicts, and they accomplished this through severe dress codes, strictures on drinking, smoking, sex, and diet, and a round-the-clock regimen of work. In Dark Ghetto Kenneth Clark proposed, somewhat apologetically, establishing a paramilitary "cadet corps" in Harlem, which he said would be valuable because of "the relative ease with which uniforms, disciplined organization, and regulations can be used to bolster the self-esteem of young people." In the Chicago ghetto today the only institutions with a record of consistently getting people out of the underclass are the parochial schools. They pay their teachers much less than what public-school teachers are paid, but they can screen their applicants, their principals can hire and fire, and they can and do impose many rules on both the students and their parents. (Ghetto public "magnet" schools that are allowed to screen are also successful.) Father George Clements, the pastor of the Holy Angels Catholic Church, describes the regimen at its elementary school this way: "We have achieved honors as an academic institution above the national norm in all disciplines. We bear down hard on basics. Hard work, sacrifice, dedication. A twelve month school year. An eight-hour day. You can't leave the campus. Total silence in the lunchroom and throughout the building. Expulsion for graffiti. Very heavy emphasis on moral pride. The parents must come every month and pick up the report card and talk to the teacher, or we kick out the kid. They must come to the PTA every month. They must sign every night's homework in every subject. They must come to Mass on Sundays. They must take a required course on the Catholic faith. The kids wear uniforms, which are required to be clean, pressed, no holes. We have a waiting list of over a thousand, and the more we bear down, the longer the list gets." Programs based on the idea of making the ghettos bloom again as communities -- in other words, creating a new, healthy, indigenous culture there -- should be regarded with extreme skepticism. Enterprise zones would certainly do no harm, but it is hard to believe that even with tax relief employers would want to locate where crime rates are so high. Turning housing projects over to their residents might foster pride, but it would also lead to physical deterioration unless there were heavy subsidies -- in the Robert Taylor Homes the tenants' rent doesn't even cover the heating bill. Several black leaders, including at one extreme Louis Farrakhan, favor some form of black economic nationalism, in which people in the ghetto would trade only with black firms, in the supposed manner of other immigrant groups. Even if such a nation came into being, it would be a pathetically poor one, because the black middle class wouldn't join -- it is already too reliant on the national economy. Community development is the most appealing idea of all. Everybody knows a story of a great teacher or organizer who made ghetto kids blossom through pure love and encouragement. The trouble is that such people are one in a million and they cannot be legislated into existence. The programs in the ghetto that work best on a mass scale -- most notably Project Head Start, the one poverty program widely acclaimed as a success, which starts giving special instruction to children at a very early age -- represent not the ghetto's taking care of its own but an intervention by the mainstream culture. The best solution for the ghettos would be one that attacks their cultural as well as their economic problems, and that takes place away from the ghettos. One such idea would be to bring back the Work Projects Administration. The original WPA was a big success in the ghettos. In 1940 in Chicago 19 percent of the black male labor force was working for the WPA, and this seems to have helped prevent an unmanageable underclass from developing at a time of catastrophic unemployment; the WPA did function as a conduit into real jobs. In Black Metropolis Drake and Cayton wrote, "During the Depression years an increasingly large number of Negroes were absorbed into the Federal and State Civil Service.... [M]any of these received their first contact with white-collar work on various WPA projects." The wartime boom seems effortlessly to have absorbed the WPA workers, as well as many people who were on welfare. A new federal program like the WPA would create jobs where workfare programs only require people to find them. It could pay workers less than the minimum wage, so that private employment would always be more appealing. The work it would do would be outside the ghettos, like repairing highways and operating word processors; this would require, however, overcoming the union opposition that has kept most government jobs programs confined to make-work within the ghetto. Some people now on welfare would be required to join the program or get a job -- for instance, single people, and parents whose children are old enough to get home from school and be on their own for a couple of hours. Welfare benefits would have to be adjusted nationally to make the incentives come out right, but that probably should be done anyway. The great advantage of such a program is that it would enter the lives of ghetto kids when they were eighteen or nineteen and would affect them at a time when most still feel more hopeful than resigned, even if some have been overwhelmed by the traumas of growing up in the ghetto. It would not have the explosive potential to rend the fabric of adult life, the way busing and the scatter-siting of housing projects have done, but it would take the people involved out of the ghetto culture, one big step closer to the national mainstream. (Ideally, the program would be combined with a universal national-service requirement for young people that would bring many middle-class kids to the neo-WPA too.) It would be expensive, though not unrealistically so if it became a conduit to private jobs and supplanted welfare payments for many people. And it is not a wacky scheme requiring a departure from the whole American political system; it is something that America as already done once. It worked and, just as important, it is widely remembered as having worked. No matter what the specific policies adopted by this or the next Administration, one issue will substantially determine their success or failure. Once it was the simplest of all issues in race relations, and now it is one of the stickiest: integration. Ethnically homogeneous industrial societies can sustain high unemployment rates and operate extremely generous welfare systems, rich in dependency incentives, without creating an underclass. (And when an immigrant group that is looked down upon comes into such a society -- West Indians in Britain, Turks in West Germany -- the first signs of an underclass appear.) The single overriding factor in the creation of the American ghettos is racial prejudice. The ghettos could not have developed their strongly self-defeating culture in the heart of urban America during the height of the postwar boom if the people who lived in them were of the same color as most of our society. The ghettos are the product of many generations of complete segregation from the neighborhoods, educational institutions, economy, and values of the rest of the country. The most invisible of all the ghetto's ills is the sense of racial inferiority that develops there. The endless references in the black official culture to pride and beauty, which to whites may seem to be obvious points not requiring constant restatement, can be explained only by the hold that their opposites, shame and ugliness, had on the minds of blacks for years. John H. Johnson, the publisher of Ebony, was asked on its fortieth anniversary how he would like to
#3 The Other Underclass by Nicholas Lemann Most people think of inner-city poverty as a black phenomenon. But it is also alarmingly high among Puerto Ricans, the worst-off ethnic group in the country--even though Puerto Rico itself has made great progress against poverty and there is a growing Puerto Rican middleclass on the mainland. The term "Hispanic" which is used to describe Spanish-speaking American ethnic groups--mainly MexicanAmericans, but also Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and immigrants from other Latin American countries--may wind up having only a brief run in common parlance. It has been in official governmental use for only a few years; the Census Bureau did not extensively use the term "Hispanic" until the 1980 census. Now it faces two threats: First, although most Hispanic groups are comfortable with the term, another name, "Latino," is gaining favor, especially on campuses, because it implies that Latin America has a distinctive indigenous culture, rather than being just a step-child of Spain. Second, the very idea that it is useful to try to understand all Americans with Spanish-speaking backgrounds as members of a single group tends to crumble on examination. Cubans, who are much more prosperous than the other Hispanic subgroups, have now risen above the national mean in family income. They are concentrated in Florida. Mexican-Americans, who make up about two thirds of the country's 22.4 million Hispanics, live mainly in the Southwest, especially California and Texas. Puerto Ricans are the second-largest Hispanic group--2.75 million people in the mainland United States. A third of them live in one city--New York. As soon as the Hispanic category is broken down by group, what leaps out at anyone who takes even a casual look at the census data is that Puerto Ricans are the worst off ethnic group in the United States. For a period in the mid1980s nearly half of all Puerto Rican families were living in poverty. It seems commonsensical that for Hispanics poverty would be a function of their unfamiliarity with the mainland United States, inability to speak English, and lack of education. But Mexican Americans, who are no more proficient in English than Puerto Ricans, less likely to have finished high school, and more likely to have arrived here very recently, have a much lower poverty rate. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported earlier this year that, as the newsletter of a leading Puerto Rican organization put it, "On almost every health indicator...Puerto Ricans fared worse" than Mexican-Americans or Cubans. Infant mortality was 50 percent higher than among Mexican-Americans, and nearly three times as high as among Cubans. The statistics also show Puerto Ricans to be much more severely afflicted than Mexican-Americans by what might be called the secondary effects of poverty, such as family breakups, and not trying to find employment--which work to ensure that poverty will continue beyond one generation. In 1988 females headed 44 percent of Puerto Rican families, as opposed to 18 percent of Mexican-American families. Mexican-Americans had a slightly higher unemployment rate, but Puerto Ricans had a substantially higher rate in the sociologically ominous category "labor force non-participation," meaning the percentage of people who haven't looked for a job in the previous month. Practically everybody in America feels some kind of emotion about blacks, but Puerto Rican leaders are the only people I've ever run across for whom the emotion is pure envy. In New York City, black median family income is substantially higher than Puerto Rican, and is rising more rapidly. The black home-ownership rate is more than double the Puerto Rican rate. Puerto Rican families are more than twice as likely as black families to be on welfare, and are about 50 percent more likely to be poor. In the mainland United States, Puerto Ricans have nothing like the black institutional network of colleges, churches, and civil-rights organizations; there isn't a large cadre of visible Puerto Rican successes in nearly every field; black politicians are more powerful than Puerto Rican politicians in all the cities with big Puerto Rican populations; and there is a feeling that blacks have America's attention, whereas Puerto Ricans, after a brief flurry of publicity back in West Side Story days, have become invisible. The question of why poverty is so widespread, and so persistent, among Puerto Ricans is an urgent one, not only for its own sake but also because the answer to it might prove to be a key to understanding the broader problem of the urban underclass. "Underclass" is a supposedly nonracial term, but by most definitions the underclass is mostly black, and discussions of it are full of racial undercurrents. Given the history of American race relations, it is nearly impossible for people to consider issues like street crime, unemployment, the high school dropout rate, and out-ofwedlock pregnancy without reopening a lot of ancient wounds. To seek an explanation for poverty among Puerto Ricans rather than blacks may make possible a truly deracialized grasp of what most experts agree is a non-racespecific problem. Although there is no clear or agreed-upon answer, the case of Puerto Ricans supports the view that being part of the underclass in the United States is the result of a one-two punch of economic factors, such as unemployment and welfare, and cultural ones, such as neighborhood ambience and ethnic history. THE FIRST EMIGRATION Puerto Rico was inhabited solely by Arawak Indians until 1493, when Christopher Columbus visited it on his second voyage to the New World. The island became a Spanish colony, and it remained one until 1898. In that year an autonomous Puerto Rican government was set up, with Spain's blessing, but it functioned for only a few days; American troops invaded during the Spanish-American War and the island became a possession of the United States shortly thereafter. The U.S. conquest of Puerto Rico was not the bloody kind that resonates psychologically through the generations; there was little resistance, and the arrival of the troops was cheered in many places. In 1917 all Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship and allowed to elect a senate, but until after the Second World War the island was run by a series of colonial governors sent from Washington. During this period Puerto Rico underwent an economic transformation, as big U.S. sugar companies came in and established plantations. Previously the island's main crops had been grown on small subsistence farms up in the hills. The sugar plantations induced thousands of people to move down to the coastal lowlands, where they became what the anthropologist Sidney Mintz calls a "rural proletariat," living in hastily constructed shantytowns and often paid in company scrip. The most salient feature of Puerto Rico throughout the first half of the twentieth century, at least in the minds of non-Puerto Ricans, was its extreme poverty and overpopulation. "What I found appalled me," John Gunther wrote, in Inside Latin America (1941), about his visit to Puerto Rico. "I saw native villages steaming with filth--villages dirtier than any I ever saw in the most squalid parts of China....I saw children bitten by disease and on the verge of starvation, in slum dwellings--if you can call them dwellings--that make the hovels of Calcutta look healthy by comparison." Gunther reported that more than half of Puerto Rican children of school age didn't go to school, that the island had the highest infant-mortality rate in the world, and that it was the second most densely populated place on earth, after Java. From such beginnings Puerto Rico became, after the Second World War, one of the great economic and political successes of the Latin American Third World. The hero of the story is Luis Munoz Marin (the son of the most important Puerto Rican political leader of the early twentieth century), who founded the biggest Puerto Rican political party and, after the United States decided to allow the island to elect its own governor, was the first Puerto Rican to rule Puerto Rico, which he did from 1949 to 1964. Munoz was the leading proponent of the idea of commonwealth status, as opposed to statehood or independence, for Puerto Rico. Under the system he helped to institute, Puerto Ricans forfeited some rights of U.S. citizenship, such as eligibility for certain federal social-welfare programs and the right to participate in national politics, and in return remained free of certain responsibilities, mainly that of paying federal income taxes. (Local taxes have always been high.) Munoz's main goal was the economic development of the island. He accomplished it by building up the educational system tremendously at all levels, by using the tax breaks to induce U.S. companies to locate manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, and perhaps (here we enter a realm where the absolute truth is hard to know) by encouraging mass emigration. Michael Lapp, a professor at the College of New Rochelle, unearthed memoranda from several members of Munoz's circle of advisers during the 1940s in which they discuss schemes to foster large-scale emigration from Puerto Rico as a way of alleviating the overpopulation problem. "They speculated about the possibility of resettling a breathtakingly large number of people," Lapp wrote in his doctoral dissertation, and described several never realized plans to create agricultural colonies for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans elsewhere in Latin America. It's doubtful that the Munoz government would ever have been able to export Puerto Ricans en masse to Brazil or the Dominican Republic, but in any case the issue became moot, because heavy voluntary emigration to an extremely nonagricultural venue--New York City--was soon under way. In 1940 New York had 70,000 Puerto Rican residents, in 1950 it had 250,000, and in 1960 it had 613,000. In general, what brought people there was economic prospects vastly less dismal than those in Puerto Rico. Back home, at the outset of the migration, industrialization was still in its very early stages, sugar prices were depressed, and thousands of people who had moved from the hills to the lowlands a generation earlier now had to move again, to notorious slums on the outskirts of urban areas, such as La Perla ("the pearl") and El Fanguito ("the little mudhole"). "The whole peasantry of Puerto Rico was displaced," says Ramon Daubon, a former vice-president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition. Among Munoz's many works was the construction of high rise housing projects to replace the slums, but during the peak years of Puerto Rican emigration little decent housing for the poor was available locally. In particular what set off the migration was the institution of cheap air travel between San Juan and New York. During the 1940s and 1950s a one-way ticket from San Juan to New York could be bought for less than $50, and installment plans were available for those without enough cash on hand. Munoz's government may not have invented the emigration, but it did do what it could to help it along--first by allowing small local airlines to drive down air fares, and second by opening, in 1948, a Migration Division in New York, which was supposed to help Puerto Ricans find jobs and calm any mainland fears about the migration which might lead to its being restricted, as had been every previous large-scale migration of an ethnic group in the twentieth century. THE SOUTH BRONX BECOMES THE SOUTH BRONX At first the center of Puerto Rican New York was 116th Street and Third Avenue, in East Harlem. This was part of the congressional district of Vito Marcantonio, the furthest-to-the-left member of the House of Representatives and a staunch friend of the Puerto Ricans. A rumor of the time was that he was "bringing them up" because ItalianAmericans were moving out of Harlem and he needed a new group of loyal constituents. But the migration increased after Marcantonio lost his seat in the 1950 election. By the end of the 1950s the Puerto Rican center had begun to shift two miles to the north, to 149th Street and Third Avenue, in the Bronx, which is where it is today. At the time, the South Bronx was not a recognized district. A series of neighborhoods at the southern tip of the Bronx--Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Melrose--were home to white ethnics who had moved there from the slums of Manhattan, as a step up the ladder. These neighborhoods were mostly Jewish, Italian, and Irish. Most of the housing stock consisted of tenement houses, but they were nicer tenements than the ones on the Lower East Side and in Hell's Kitchen. From there the next move was usually to the lower-middle-class northern and eastern Bronx, or to Queens. During the boom years after the Second World War whites were leaving the South Bronx in substantial numbers. Meanwhile, urban renewal was displacing many blacks and Puerto Ricans from Manhattan, and the city was building new high-rise public housing--much of it in the South Bronx. During the mid-1960s another persistent rumor was that Herman Badillo, who had been appointed the city's relocation commissioner in 1961, tried to engineer the placement of as many Puerto Ricans as possible in the South Bronx, so that he would have a base from which to run for office. (Badillo was elected borough president of the Bronx in 1965, and in 1970 he became the first Puerto Rican elected to the U.S. Congress.) For most of the Puerto Ricans moving to the South Bronx, though, the neighborhood was just what it had been for the area's earlier occupants--a step up (usually from East Harlem). All through the 1950s and 1960s it was possible to see Puerto Ricans as a typical rising American immigrant group (rising more slowly than most, perhaps), and their relocation to the South Bronx was part of the evidence. The idea that New York was going to be continually inundated by starving Puerto Rican peasants for whom there was no livelihood at home had faded, because spectacular progress was being made back on the island: per capita income increased sixfold from 1940 to 1963; the percentage of children attending school rose to 90. In a new preface for the 1970 edition of Beyond the Melting Pot, Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote, "Puerto Ricans are economically and occupationally worse off than Negroes, but one does find a substantial move in the second generation that seems to correspond to what we expected for new groups in the city." In keeping with the standard pattern for immigrants, Puerto Ricans were beginning to achieve political power commensurate with their numbers in the city. And the War on Poverty and the Model Cities program created a small but important new cache of jobs for Puerto Ricans which were more dignified and better-paying than jobs in the garment district and hotel dining rooms and on loading docks and vegetable farms. But the 1970s were a nightmare decade in the South Bronx. The statistical evidence of Puerto Rican progress out of poverty evaporated. After rising in the 1960s, Puerto Rican median family income dropped during the 1970s. Family structure changed dramatically: the percentage of Puerto Ricans living in families headed by a single, unemployed parent went from 9.9 in 1960 and 10.1 in 1970 to 26.9 in 1980. The visible accompaniment to these numbers was the extraordinary physical deterioration of the South Bronx, mainly through arson. Jill Jonnes, in We're Still Here: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of the South Bronx, wrote: "There was arson commissioned by landlords out for their insurance....Arson was set by welfare recipients who wanted out of their apartments....Many fires were deliberately set by junkies--and by that new breed of professional, the strippers of buildings, who wanted to clear a building so they could ransack the valuable copper and brass pipes, fixtures, and hardware...Fires were set by firebugs who enjoyed a good blaze and by kids out for kicks. And some were set by those who got their revenge with fire, jilted lovers returning with a can of gasoline and a match...." Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but it seems safe to say that the South Bronx lost somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 housing units during the 1970s, and this produced the vistas of vacant, rubble-strewn city blocks by which the outside world knows the South Bronx. Two Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, paid wellpublicized visits to burned-out Charlotte Street. Theories abound about why, exactly, the South Bronx burned: the excessive strictness of rent control in New York, the dispiriting effects of welfare and unemployment, the depredations of drugs. It is not necessary to choose among them to be able to say that the burning took place because most parties had abandoned any commitment to maintaining a functional society there. It is rare for the veneer of civilization to be eroded so rapidly anywhere during peace time. Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx's borough president, says, "I remember in 1974 walking around Jennings Street. One weekend everything's going, stores, et cetera. The next week, boom, it's gone. It hit with the power of a locomotive. In '79, '80, it seemed like EVERY goddamn thing was burning." By virtue of the presidential visits and its location in New York City (and its prominence in Bonfire of the Vanities), the South Bronx has become the most famous slum in America. To visit it today is to be amazed by how much less completely devastated it is than we've been led to expect. The area around 149th Street and Third Avenue, which is known as the Hub, is a thriving retail district, complete with department stores and the usual bodegas (corner stores) and botanicas (shops selling religious items and magic potions). A neighborhood like Lawndale in Chicago, in contrast, hasn't had any substantial commercial establishments for more than twenty years. During the daytime the Hub area feels lively and safe. Also, there is new and rehabilitated housing all over the South Bronx, including incongruous ranch-style suburban houses lining Charlotte Street, row houses on Fox Street, and fixed-up apartment houses all over the old tenement districts from Hunts Point to Mott Haven. What accounts for the signs of progress is, first, a decision during the prosperous 1980s by the administration of Mayor Ed Koch ("kicking and screaming," Ferrer says) to commit a sum in the low billions to the construction and rehabilitation of housing in the South Bronx. This has led to the opening of many thousands of new housing units. Some of them are very unpopular in the neighborhood, because they are earmarked to house homeless people who are being moved out of welfare hotels in Manhattan. Community leaders in the Bronx grumble that there's a master plan to export Manhattan's problems to their neighborhood. Several impressive community-development groups, including the Mid-Bronx Desperadoes, Bronx Venture Corporation, and Banana Kelly, have played a part in the rehabilitation of the neighborhood, by using funds from the city and foundations to fix up and then manage apartment buildings. Nationally, a generation's worth of efforts to redevelop urban slums haven't worked well on the whole. The lesson of the community groups' success in the Bronx seems to be that if the focus of redevelopment is on housing rather than job creation, and if there is money available to renovate the housing, and if the groups are permitted to function as tough-minded landlords, then living conditions in poor neighborhoods can be made much more decent. The biggest community-development organization in the South Bronx is the South East Bronx Community Organization, which is run by Father Louis Gigante. Gigante, a Catholic priest, is a legendary figure in the Bronx. He is the brother of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the reputed head of the Genovese organized-crime family. He has been associated with St. Athanasius Church in Hunts Point since 1962, but he is an atypical priest: he is tough, combative, politically active (he served on the New York city council, and once ran for Congress), and immodest. The area surrounding St. Athanasius is an oasis of clean streets and well-kept housing, which Gigante runs in the manner of a benevolent dictator. He is known for his tough tenant-screening policy. "You've got to house a base of people with economic strength," he told me recently. "We look at family structure--how do they live? We visit everyone. We look in their background and see if there are extensive social problems, like drugs or a criminal record. Back in the late seventies, I'd only take ten or twelve percent of people on some government subsidy-including pensions. I was looking for working-class people. You cannot put a whole massive group of social problems all together in one place. They're going to kill you. They're going to destroy you. They're going to eat you up with their problems." For many years the politics of Hunts Point was dominated by a rivalry between Gigante and Ramon Velez, another legendary figure who was also a New York city councilman. Velez ran the Hunts Point Multi-Service Center, a large, government funded social-services dispensary that provided him with a base of political patronage jobs. Born in Puerto Rico, Velez came to the South Bronx as a welfare caseworker in 1961, the year before Gigante arrived. A fiery street-corner speaker, he quickly became the kind of up-from-the-streets community leader that the War on Poverty liked to fund. He made the multi-service center into a big organization, ran for Congress once, registered hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican voters, became a power in the Puerto Rican Day parade, and led demonstrations that helped induce the city to rebuild a large South Bronx hospital, which has been by far the most significant new source of jobs in the area. He was investigated and audited many times because of government money unaccounted for at his organizations. His aides were rumored to carry weapons and to threaten political rivals with violence. (Velez says this isn't true.) Once Velez and Gigante got into a fistfight after Velez called Gigante a maricon ("queer"). (Velez insists that this never happened.) Today Gigante and Velez are both in their late fifties, gray-haired (at least they were until recently, when Velez dyed his hair black), and mellowed. Each professes to have developed a grudging respect for the other. No doubt they will soon be representatives of a certain period in the past--the rough-and-tumble period when the Bronx was just becoming Puerto Rican. Fernando Ferrer, on the other hand, is part of the first generation of Puerto Ricans born and raised in the Bronx to come to power. He has been groomed for leadership ever since, as a teenager, he joined a program for promising Puerto Rican kids called ASPIRA. A different group--Dominicans--is now streaming into New York (mainly Washington Heights, in Manhattan, but also the South Bronx) but is too recently arrived to have produced the kind of leaders whose names are widely recognized. A common Dominican route to the United States is to pay a smuggler $800 or $1,000 for boat passage from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, and then to buy a plane ticket from San Juan to New York. Estimates of the number of Dominicans who have moved to New York City in the past decade run between a half million and a million. Dominicans are known for their industriousness, and many of them are illegal aliens ineligible for any kind of social-welfare program; they have gone into the undesirable, illegal, or disorganized end of the labor market, working in sweatshops, driving gypsy cabs, dealing drugs, and operating nightclubs and other perilous small businesses. In New York City, according to Ramon Velez, 6,500 "Puerto Rican Judases" have sold their bodegas to Dominicans. Gigante says that many of his tenants are now Dominican. Partly because the Dominican migration is predominantly male and the Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx is predominantly female-headed, DominicanPuerto Rican marriages and liaisons are becoming common. Surely the Dominican migration is partly responsible for the increased vitality that the South Bronx has begun to display. I don't mean to make the South Bronx sound happier than it is. Only a block and a half from the Hub, at the corner of 148th Street and Bergen Avenue, is an outdoor drug market, one of many in the area. There is still a great deal of deteriorated housing and vacant land where housing used to be. I spent a couple of mornings recently at Bronx Venture Corporation, a job-placement and community development organization in the Hub, talking to Puerto Ricans who had come in to get help finding work. Without exception they wanted to leave the South Bronx. They complained about absent fathers, angry mothers, brothers in jail, sisters on welfare; about ruthless competition with the Dominicans for jobs, shoot-outs between drug dealers, high schools where nobody learns, domestic violence, alcoholism, a constant sense of danger. Something is badly wrong there. WHY IS THERE A PUERTO RICAN UNDERCLASS? There is no one-factor explanation of exactly what it is that's wrong. In fact, most of the leading theorists of the underclass could find support for their divergent positions in the Puerto Rican experience. One theory, which fits well with William Julius Wilson's argument that the underclass was created by the severe contraction of the unskilled-labor market in the big northeastern and midwestern cities, is that Puerto Ricans who moved to the mainland during the peak years of the migration were unlucky in where they went. New York City lost hundreds of thousands of jobs during the 1970s. Particularly unfortunate for Puerto Ricans was the exodus of much of the garment industry to the South. "What I see is a community that came here and put all its eggs in one basket, namely the garment industry and manufacturing," says Angelo Falcon, the president of the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy. When the unskilled jobs in New York began to disappear, Puerto Ricans, who had little education and so were not well prepared to find other kinds of work, began to fall into drugs, street crime, and family dissolution. The ill effects of unemployment have been exacerbated by the nature of Puerto Rican sex roles and family life. The tradition on the island is one of strong extended-family networks. These deteriorated in New York. "You find the extended family in Puerto Rico and the nuclear family here," says Olga Mendez, a Puerto Rican state senator in New York. The presence of relatives in the home would make it easier for Puerto Rican mothers to work; their absence tends to keep mothers at home, and so does the island ethic that women shouldn't work. In 1980 in New York City, 49 percent of black women and 53 percent of white women were out of the labor force- and 66 percent of Puerto Rican women. Even this low rate of labor-force participation is much higher than the rate for Puerto Rican women on the island. In the United States today the two-income family is a great generator of economic upward mobility, but it is a rare institution among poor Puerto Ricans, whose men are often casualties of the streets, addicted or imprisoned or drifting or dead. Also rare is the female-headed family in which the woman works. "That poverty rates soared for Puerto Rican families while they have declined for black families largely can be traced to the greater success of black women in the labor market," says a 1987 paper by Marta Tienda and Leif Jensen, two of the leading experts on Puerto Ricans. Conservatives who emphasize the role of the welfare system in creating the underclass would say that since other Hispanic groups have labor-force participation rates and family structures markedly different from those of Puerto Ricans, the real issue must be the availability of government checks, not jobs. Other than Cubans, Puerto Ricans are the only Spanish-speaking ethnic group for whom full U.S. citizenship (and therefore welfare eligibility) in the immigrant generation is the rule rather than the exception. "What should be an advantage for Puerto Ricans- namely, citizenship--has turned into a liability in the welfare state," Linda Chavez writes in Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation. "They have been smothered by entitlements." In the community of underclass experts the role of pure skin-color prejudice is not much stressed these days, but the case can be made that it has contributed to the woes of poor Puerto Ricans. A staple of Puerto Rican reminiscence, written and oral, is the shock and hurt that dark-skinned Puerto Ricans feel when they come here and experience color prejudice for the first time. Blacks were enslaved on Puerto Rico for centuries--emancipation took place later there than here--but the structure of race relations was different from what it was in the American South. Plantations were relatively unimportant in pre-emancipation Puerto Rico, blacks were always a minority of the island's population, and there was a much higher proportion of free blacks than in the United States. Puerto Rico never developed the kind of rigid racial caste system that characterized places with plantation economies and black majorities. Intermarriage was common, and there was no bright legal and social line between those having African blood and whites. (The U.S. Census Bureau no longer asks Puerto Ricans to identify themselves by race.) In Puerto Rico the prosperous classes tend to be lighter-skinned, but dark-skinned people who acquire money don't find the same difficulty in being accepted in neighborhoods and social clubs that they do here. On the mainland racial prejudice may play a role in shutting Puerto Ricans out of jobs, in ensuring that they live in ghettos, and in instilling an internalized, defeatist version of the wider society's racial judgments. But what's striking about the racial consciousness of Puerto Ricans as against that of African-Americans is the much lower quotient of anger at society. The whole question of who is at fault for the widespread poverty--the poor people or the United States--seems to preoccupy people much less when the subject is Puerto Ricans. For example, conservatives now commonly attribute the persistent poverty of the black underclass to the "victim mentality" expressed by black professors and leadership organizations. I think that the victim mentality among blacks is much more a part of the life of the upper-middle class than of the poor. But even if we grant the premise that ethnic groups are ideologically monolithic, the Puerto Rican case would indicate that the victim mentality doesn't have anything to do with persistent poverty: the Puerto Rican leadership does not have a victim mentality, but persistent poverty is much more severe among Puerto Ricans than among blacks. The National Puerto Rican Coalition publishes first-rate studies about Puerto Rican poverty that take different sides on the question of whether or not it's completely society's fault--something it's difficult to imagine of the NAACP. VA Y VEN A final theory about why Puerto Ricans are so poor as a group has to do with migration patterns. During the peak years of migration from Puerto Rico to the mainland, the people who migrated were apparently worse off than the people who didn't. A paper by Vilma Ortiz, of the Educational Testing Service, cites figures showing that in 1960 a group of recent Puerto Rican immigrants had a lower percentage of high school and college graduates than a control group on the island. Ortiz's view that it was not a migration of the most ambitious and capable--that people with less education and lower-status occupations were likelier to move--fits with the idea that for Munoz emigration was a way to reduce the crush of destitute former peasants on the island. Since about 1970, most experts believe, the pattern has been changing and better-educated Puerto Ricans have become more likely to leave the island, because of a shortage of middle-class jobs there. Oscar Lewis wrote in La Vida, his 1965 book about Puerto Rican poverty, "The majority of migrants in the New York sample had made a three-step migration--from a rural birthplace in Puerto Rico to a San Juan slum to New York." (Lewis did a lifetime of work on Latin American poverty which contains a great deal of interesting material, but he is rarely quoted anymore; his reputation is in total eclipse in academic circles because he invented the phrase "culture of poverty," which is now seen as a form of blaming the victim.) Social critics commonly complain that Puerto Ricans lack a true immigrant mentality--that they aren't fully committed to making it on the mainland, so they don't put down deep neighborhood and associational roots, as other immigrants do, and they are constantly moving back and forth from Puerto Rico. Glazer and Moynihan wrote, "In 1958-1959, 10,600 children were transferred from Puerto Rican schools, and 6,500 were released to go to school in Puerto Rico....Something new perhaps has been added to the New York scene--an ethnic group that will not assimilate to the same degree as others do..." This is known as the va y ven syndrome; those who dispute its existence say that the heavy air traffic back and forth between New York and San Juan is evidence that Puerto Ricans visit their relatives a lot, not that they relocate constantly. "Where's your data [about constant relocation]?" Clara Rodriguez, a sociologist at Fordham University, asks. "There's nothing but travel data." The migration patterns of middle-class, as well as poor, Puerto Ricans have become an issue in recent years. As has been the case with other ethnic groups, the well-educated and employed Puerto Ricans leave the slums. For Puerto Ricans who came to New York during the 1940s and 1950s--in slang, "Nuyoricans"--the most common sequence of moves was from the island to East Harlem to the South Bronx to Soundview, a blue-collar neighborhood just across the Bronx River from Hunt's Point, and then to the middle-class North Bronx, Queens, New Jersey, or Connecticut. The consequent isolation of the Puerto Rican poor seems to be even more pronounced than the isolation of the black poor. Churches in black ghettos are all black institutions often dominated by middle-class blacks; the major churches in the South Bronx are Catholic and aren't run by Puerto Ricans. The work force of the New York City government is a third black and only a tenth Puerto Rican, meaning that middle-class blacks are much more likely than middleclass Puerto Ricans to return to the slums during the workday to perform professional social-service functions. The most common form of upward mobility in the South Bronx is supposed to be military service (South Bronx soldiers were often in the news during the Gulf War), but that makes people more successful by taking them thousands of miles away from the neighborhood. The leaders of the South Bronx often don't live there. Ramon Velez has a residence in the Bronx but also ones in Manhattan and Puerto Rico; Ferrer and Badillo live in more prosperous sections of the Bronx; Robert Garcia, Badillo's much-loved successor in Congress, who resigned in a scandal, owned a house north of the New York City suburbs during the time he was in Congress; Yolanda Rivera, who as the head of Banana Kelly is one of the most promising young community leaders in the South Bronx, keeps a house in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The Reverend Earl Kooperkamp, an Episcopal minister who was recently transferred to a South Bronx church after tours of duty in several poor black neighborhoods in New York City, says, "Anybody who was living here before and making anything got the hell out. In Harlem, East New York, Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, you had the occasional professional. There are no lawyers and doctors in this community." When middle-class blacks move out of black ghettos, they usually relocate to more prosperous black neighborhoods, which form a nonblighted locus of the ethnic culture. Puerto Ricans who leave the South Bronx for other parts of the New York area tend to melt into more integrated neighborhoods, where it's much harder to maintain the fierce concern with "the race" that has historically existed in the black middle class. Ramon Daubon, of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, goes so far as to say, "There is no distinctive middle-class Puerto Rican neighborhood in the United States." There IS a Levittown for Puerto Ricans who are pursuing the standard dream of escape to suburban comfort--just outside San Juan. "If a Puerto Rican makes fifty or sixty thousand a year here, he wants to move back," says Ramon Velez. "He wants to buy land, build a house." Black middle-class emigrants from ghettos tend to remain in the same metropolitan area. Middle-class Puerto Ricans who move back to Puerto Rico can hardly function as role models, political leaders, counselors, or enlargers of the economic pie for the people in the South Bronx. "Look around in Puerto Rico," Velez says. "The legislature, all the influential people--they're all from New York. Two of my former employees are in the state senate. Those who are able to achieve something here and make money, they go back." When young middle-class Puerto Ricans leave the island for the mainland because they can't find work as doctors or engineers at home, they often gravitate not to New York but to Sun Belt destinations like Orlando and Houston. The Puerto Rican population of Florida rose by 160 percent in the 1980s. New York now has a reputation on the island as the place that poor people move to, and later leave if they make any money. The percentage of mainland Puerto Ricans who live in New York has dropped steadily over the years, and if you exclude Nuyoricans from the social and economic statistics, Puerto Ricans look much less like an underclass. Douglas Gurak and Luis Falcon, in a 1990 paper on Puerto Rican migration patterns, argue that poverty, nonparticipation in the labor force, and unstable marriages were often characteristic of the Puerto Ricans who are now poor here, rather than resulting from the economic and social conditions of New York. They write, "It is clear that the selectivity of the migration process...results in an overrepresentation of women in the New York region who are characterized by traits associated with poverty. Those with less labor force experience, less education, more children, and more marital instability are the ones most likely to migrate to the mainland. Those with more stable unions, fewer children and more education are more likely to return to the island." In Puerto Rico, especially rural Puerto Rico, common-law marriage and out-of-wedlock childbearing are longestablished customs. Before Munoz's modernization efforts brought the rates down, a quarter of all marriages on the island were consensual, and one third of all births were out of wedlock. (Munoz himself had two daughters out of wedlock, and married their mother only when he was about to assume the governorship of Puerto Rico.) Female immigrants to New York, Gurak and Falcon say, tend to come out of this tradition, and they are more likely than those who don't emigrate to have recently gone through the breakup of a marriage or a serious relationship. Other Hispanic emigrants, such as Dominicans and Colombians, tend to rank higher than non-emigrants on "human capital" measures like education, family structure, and work history; and Puerto Rican immigrants who settle outside New York aren't generally more disadvantaged than people who remain in Puerto Rico. The overall picture is one of entrenched Puerto Rican poverty becoming increasingly a problem in New York City rather than nationwide. Although their explanations vary, experts on Puerto Rican poverty tend to agree on how to ameliorate it: both Marta Tienda and Douglas Gurak, for example, call for special educational and job-training efforts. There is something about black-white race relations in America that leads people in all camps to dismiss those kinds of anti-poverty efforts in behalf of blacks as unimaginative, old-fashioned, vague, unworkable, or doomed to failure. The selfdefeating view that the problem is so severe that it could be solved only through some step too radical for the political system ever to take seems to evaporate when the subject is Puerto Ricans rather than blacks. THE STATUS QUESTION Or it may be that the reason for the relatively calm and undramatic quality of discussions of Puerto Rican poverty is that the whole issue is really only a side show. The consuming policy matter for Puerto Ricans, including mainland Puerto Ricans, is what's known as the status question: the issue of whether Puerto Rico should become a state, become independent, or remain a commonwealth. "It affects our psyche, our opportunity, our identity, our families," says Jorge Batista, a Puerto Rican lawyer who is a former deputy borough president of the Bronx. "The only analogy for you is the Civil War. It permeates all our lives." Puerto Rico occupies an unusual economic middle ground--worse off than the United States, better off than most of the rest of Latin America. Progress is now coming much more slowly than it did in the Munoz years. Munoz retired in 1964, after handpicking his successor. During the next four years, however, Munoz's commonwealth party split into factions, and in 1968 Luis Ferre, the head of the archrival statehood party, won the governorship. Munoz, then in retirement in Spain but still a god in Puerto Rico, handpicked another successor, Rafael Hernandez Colon. Hernandez unseated Ferre in the l972 election, and the statehood party passed into the hands of Carlos Romero Barcelo. The next few gubernatorial elections pitted Hernandez against Romero: Romero won in 1976 and 1980, and Hernandez won in 1984, and was re-elected against a different opponent in 1988. The essential features of commonwealth are federal-income-tax exemption, only partial participation in the U.S. welfare system, and a lack of voting representation in Congress. Psychically, commonwealth status implies a certain distance from the United States--a commitment to the preservation of the Spanish language and of Puerto Rican culture. Like other liberal parties of long standing around the world, the commonwealth party is perceived as both the party of the establishment--of the way things are done in Puerto Rico--and the party of the common man. The party's symbol is the jibaro, the agrarian peasant from the mountains, the closest thing there is to an emblematic national figure. The typical Puerto Rican is no longer a jibaro, but that doesn't matter--the typical Texan is no longer a pickup-driving country boy named Bubba, either. Puerto Rico's idea of itself is as an island of earthy, unpretentious, good-hearted people who treat each other with dulce carino "sweet caring." It's easy to see how American culture could be perceived as a threat to this ethos, and thus something that should be kept at arm's length. The statehood party is prepared to take the plunge into American life, although it promises, by way of soothing people's fears, to establish an estatidad jibara. Politically, the statehood party is to the right of the commonwealth party (and far to the right of the small, left-wing independence party) on the classic Latin American issue of whether or not to view the United States as a benign force in the hemisphere. In terms of what would actually happen under statehood, though, the party, conservative though it may be, would bring into being a conservative counter-utopia. As a state, Puerto Rico would have two U.S. senators and five or six congressmen, all of whom might well be Democrats. And if Puerto Rico became a state, Republicans would find it more difficult to maintain their opposition to making the District of Columbia, even more solidly Democratic, a state too. Taxes on the island might rise significantly, because Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code, the big Puerto Rican tax break, would be abolished; businesses would presumably relocate elsewhere. Puerto Rico is now given parts of the U.S. social welfare benefits package, and 1.4 million people, nearly half the island's population, receive food assistance. Statehood would bring full benefits and the welfare rolls of the new state might swell tremendously, not just with islanders but possibly also with mainland Puerto Ricans who would move back. A bitter controversy could be expected to emerge over whether to make English the island's official language. Robert L. Bartley, the editorial-page editor of The Wall Street Journal, who in conservative battles can usually be relied on to side with the ideologues against the pragmatists, recently concluded after a visit to Puerto Rico that "what the statehood issue really needs is a good vacation." Advocates of statehood--a mixture of business interests and the rising lower and middle classes, like Margaret Thatcher's coalition in Britain--acknowledge that it would be worse in the short term, and stress the overriding historical importance of the island's becoming fully American. The last time the status question was put to a vote in Puerto Rico was in 1967; commonwealth won. There the matter rested until 1989, when Governor Hernandez, at his inauguration, issued a surprise call for resolution of the status question--and then, even more surprising, President Bush announced that he favors Puerto Rican statehood in his first address to Congress. Bush's Puerto Rico policy is usually explained as an example of his tendency to make decisions more on the basis of personal loyalty than of political analysis. Luis Ferry the first statehood party governor, now an eighty-seven-year-old patriarch, is an old friend of Bush's, and endorsed him for President in 1980. Soon after the 1988 election Don Luis came to Washington and stayed as a guest in the Bush home. There, the rumor goes, Bush asked him what he wanted as his reward now that the long crusade for the White House was over, and Ferre said, "Before I die, I would like to hear a President of the United States say before a joint session of Congress that he wants statehood for Puerto Rico." Bush's remarks in favor of statehood set off a two-year process in Congress to arrange another plebiscite in Puerto Rico. It was supposed to take place this year, but negotiations fell apart over such issues as whether the results would be binding on Congress and whether mainland Puerto Ricans would be allowed to vote. Now the plebiscite is sure to be put off until a year or two after the 1992 election. In the meantime, the commonwealth party's dream is that the U.S. Congress will allow it to be represented on the ballot by an option called "enhanced commonwealth," which would give Puerto Rico greater political autonomy, including the right to negotiate with foreign governments; even if this happens, it is not a foregone conclusion that the commonwealth option will win the plebiscite. Every possible outcome of the status question would have some effect on Puerto Rican poverty on the mainland. In the almost completely unlikely event of independence, the new Puerto Rican nation would be unable to offer anything like the current level of food-stamp benefits, and presumably there would be another mass emigration of the poor to the United States, motivated by fear of privation; when independence took effect, islanders would lose the right of free immigration to the mainland that they now have as U.S. citizens. Statehood would raise food assistance and other benefits on the island to their mainland levels, and so would engender some migration of the poor from the mainland to the island, thus making the problem of Puerto Rican poverty less severe in New York and other big eastern cities. Enhanced commonwealth is the only one of the three status options that holds any real promise of spurring economic development on the island in the near future. Even a muted reprise of Munoz's economic miracle could surely be expected to help alleviate Puerto Rican poverty in New York, by drawing people back to the island to find the unskilled jobs that they can no longer find on the mainland. Obviously, a great deal could be done on the mainland to reduce Puerto Rican poverty. That it can even be discussed as an island problem, susceptible to island solutions, may be the most important of all the differences between the situations of Puerto Ricans and blacks. For many blacks there is, psychologically, a homeland off stage, in the South or in Africa, but nobody can really think of it as a place where the wrenching difficulties of the present might be worked out. Copyright ©© 1991 by Nicholas Lemann. All rights reserved. "The Other Underclass"; The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1991, issue. Volume 268, Number 6 (pages 96-110). #4 The invisible underclass By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post Tuesday, April 6, 2010; Page A13 After President Obama and his family attended Easter services in the poorest, blackest, most crime-ridden quadrant of Washington, his 22-car motorcade sped back across the Anacostia River to the picture-postcard, cherry-blossomy part of town. Left behind was a heartbreaking crime scene -- along with tens of thousands of people who have become as invisible as ghosts. It is rare these days when two high-profile events, within a single week, train the spotlight even briefly on the too-large segment of the African American population that remains mired in desperate poverty and self-sustaining dysfunction. The second event was the first family's visit to Allen Chapel AME Church for a joyous, high-spirited Easter celebration. The pastor, the Rev. Michael Bell, described it as "a monumental moment for us as a community." The first event took place at twilight on March 30. Gunmen in a minivan driven by a 14-year-old boy pulled up in front of a decrepit little apartment building, a popular hang-out spot for neighborhood teenagers, and fired indiscriminately into the crowd with handguns and an AK-47style assault rifle. Four young people were killed and five others wounded. It was the most stunning outburst of senseless violence Washington had seen in years. Police say the apparent motive involves a complicated back story. I'll note just two details: Many in the targeted crowd had just returned from the funeral of a 20-year-old man who had been gunned down a week earlier. And both incidents -- five deaths in all -- seem to have been triggered by the apparent theft of a single cheap, gold-tone men's bracelet. The carnage has been front-page, top-of-the-newscast fare. It is as if a veil has been lifted and the city can now see the devastation that should have been evident all along. Ward 8, the jurisdiction that includes the church Obama attended and the site of the mass shooting, has an unemployment rate of 28.5 percent and a poverty rate of 40 percent. It has the highest percentage of single- parent households in the city, its public schools are perennially troubled and its streets are host to frequent turf battles among violent gangs. But soon, all that will be forgotten -- just as the same kind of despair goes unremembered in similar neighborhoods in Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia and every other major American city. Entrenched black poverty, with all its causes and implications, barely makes a ripple in the public debate these days. One major reason, perhaps the major reason, is that crime rates have fallen sharply over the past two decades throughout the country. In 1990 there were 472 homicides in Washington; last year there were just 143, and this year's murder rate is on track to be even lower. The sight of a group of black teenagers downtown doesn't automatically provoke fear in others the way it once did, which is a good thing. But it's not good that people who live in more affluent neighborhoods, or in the suburbs, now seem to believe they don't have to notice those teenagers at all. People look right through them. The violent crime that remains has largely been corralled into the impoverished neighborhoods where both perpetrators and victims live. Governments, nonprofits, churches and other institutions do what they can, but their efforts do not begin to approach the scale of the problem. What's needed is massive intervention on every front. It would be a great accomplishment, for example, to really fix the schools. But what good are state-of-the-art facilities and qualified, motivated teachers when the students arrive having been damaged by dysfunctional families and a toxic peer-group culture -- and when there are no jobs waiting for them when they leave? One of the shooting victims, 16-year-old Brishell Jones, wanted to become a chef. She just happened to go out last Tuesday night, and never made it home. Before he entered politics, Obama worked in equally desperate communities in Chicago. He has the understanding, and the power, to begin the process of healing places like Ward 8. But he is going to need the political will -- and the clout -- to implement policies that specifically target the African American underclass. I hate that word, underclass, and almost never use it. But the ultimate defeat that it implies seems alarmingly near. On Monday, at the corner where nine people were shot, there were teddy bears, flowers, condolence notes, a collection of liquor bottles beneath a "no loitering" sign. Soon, the impromptu memorial will fade away. The neighborhood and its people will be invisible once more.
UNDERCLASS ARTICLES REVIEW SHEET NAME:_____________________ STUDENT ID# _______________________ Article I A. Summarize article # 1 in 10 lines. B. State three (3) of the main points of the article. 1. 2. 3. C. How does this article contribute to our understanding of the “Underclass” phenomenon? Article II A. B. Summarize article # 2 in 10 lines. State three (3) of the main points of the article. 1. 2. 3. C. How does this article contribute to our understanding of the “Underclass” phenomenon? Article III A. B. Summarize article # 3 in 10 lines. State three (3) of the main points of the article. 1. 2. 3. C. How does this article contribute to our understanding of the “Underclass” phenomenon? Article IV A. Summarize article # 3 in 10 lines. B. State three (3) of the main points of the article. 1. 2. 3. C. How does this article contribute to our understanding of the “Underclass” phenomenon?

Tutor Answer

School: Carnegie Mellon University




STUDENT ID# _______________________

Article I

A. Summarize article # 1 in 10 lines.
This article by Nicholas Lemann explains how economic times have caused a distinct change in
a once busy neighborhood. Lemann says that standing at Chicago’s 47th St. and South Parkway
today feels completely different. There are no more colored doctors, salespeople, lawyers or
dentists as they used to be long time ago. Today, it is almost impossible to stand at the same
place without wondering what went wrong. During the day, South Parkway lacks any form of
bustle although the shopping strips still exist while others are gone entirely. The author explains
that poverty in the area has geared up with various problems being evidenced in the ghettos. As a
result, different people including President Reagan have commissioned a study of reform of
welfare in the area which is intended to dismantle or disintegrate the state warfare.
B. State three (3) of the main points of the article.
1. The effects of economic degradation
2. Black illegitimacy and growth of ghettos
3. Unemployment

C. How does this article contribute to our understanding of the “Underclass”

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Tutor went the extra mile to help me with this essay. Citations were a bit shaky but I appreciated how well he handled APA styles and how ok he was to change them even though I didnt specify. Got a B+ which is believable and acceptable.

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