The Agonist Journal

The latest bandwagon on which the trained seals of the media have jumped is that of the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus upon “people of color,” black Americans in particular. Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with objectively reporting the facts: The virus does in fact disproportionately affect people with certain preexisting medical conditions, people who live in more densely populated urban environments, and people on the front lines in the workforce who can’t work from home, a great many black Americans falling into those categories. But the media are attributing the preexisting medical conditions of these black Americans, the poverty of the inner cities in which they live, and the high percentage of their employment in lower-paid, can’t-work-from-home jobs to that ubiquitous bugaboo, systemic racism. Black Americans in the categories mentioned above who fatally succumb to the virus are really the victims of slavery, Jim Crow, and redlining, we are being told. At this writing, hardly a day passes without the appearance of yet another of these jeremiads highlighting the alleged victimization of black Americans stricken by the virus.

"[C]ertain of black America’s problems are of their own making, the consequences of their own actions, and this can have an impact on their susceptibility to the coronavirus."

Here’s a representative excerpt from a Guardian article from May 24, “Chicago: black people are 30% of its population but 60% of its Covid-19 deaths”:

“Is Chicago ready to have a reckoning with the true realities it has created?” said Anton Seals Jr, whose group, South Shore Works, is part of the mayor’s rapid response initiative. “That’ll answer the question if it’s going to get worse or it’s going to get better.” Seals praised the efforts to increase access to testing and other initiatives by the rapid response team, but said a larger push is needed, particularly among public officials and white citizens, to face up to the “nasty truth” of racism that resulted in the health and economic disparities in Chicago and the country as a whole in the first place.

A fed-up reader shot back with this comment: “What about the ‘nasty truth’ of a ghetto subculture of promiscuity, illegitimacy, and irresponsibility?”

My point of departure here is to consider another area in which black Americans disproportionately turn up, namely murder offender statistics. But what does murder have to do with the virus? Stay with me. Not that long ago in this very journal, I cited FBI crime statistics from 2014 through 2018 showing that black murder offenders accounted for about 47 to 48 percent of the murders in the country. Since black people make up only about 13 percent of the population, this means that 34 to 35 percent of the total murders in the country—well over a third—are the result of one little group going way over and above the percentage of murders they would be expected to commit. If murder were a horse race, black murder offenders wouldn’t simply be winning the race—they’d be out in front by several lengths: the Secretariat of murder!

Now here’s the connection between the Secretariat of murder and death by coronavirus: One of the factors involved in contracting the virus is failure to abide by pandemic protocol such as social distancing, hand sanitizing, and wearing face masks. Although news features have shown both black people and white people flouting the protocol, could one group be flouting it much more than the other? Look at it this way: If people in one group disproportionately flout a law against a crime as serious as murder, committing way more murders than they should, does it not stand to reason that people in the same group just might be disproportionately flouting pandemic protocol as well? And does it not also stand to reason that people in a group that disproportionately flout a law against a very serious crime might also be disproportionately flouting medical advice of the kind that advises them to stop smoking, to stop using illicit drugs, to curtail consumption of alcoholic beverages, and to reduce their daily intake of calories? People who flout that medical advice develop the preexisting conditions that make them more susceptible to the virus. If they then flout pandemic protocol on top of that and catch the virus, they certainly will be disproportionately affected. The common denominator in flouting the law, flouting pandemic protocol, and flouting medical advice is an I’ll-do-whatever-I-please attitude, a “ghetto” attitude.

There are yet other areas where black Americans disproportionately turn up that shed light on why they are so over-represented in serious crime stats. National Vital Statistics Reports figures from 2018 (Table 2, p. 13) show that black girls 10 to 14 years old have babies at four times the rate of white girls in the same age bracket. Black girls 15 to 17 years old have babies at three times the rate of white girls in the same age bracket. Why aren’t these black girls being taught that letting some stupid boy get into their pants and get them into trouble is one of the worst mistakes a girl can make? Now at this point some victimism enablers might boo-hoo that the disparity in birth rates is the result of poor black girls having less access to abortion. But this proves my point a fortiori: If it’s harder for poor black girls to get abortions, that’s all the more reason their parents need to be drumming it into their heads not to be getting pregnant in the first place. Why is that not happening? And why aren’t more young black males being taught not to go around carelessly impregnating girls? Moreover, according to the most recent Guttmacher Report (Table 1.7, p. 34), black teenage girls actually have abortions at nearly four times the rate for white teenage girls. So not only are black girls having babies at several times the white rate, they’re also having abortions at several times the white rate—talk about burning the candle at both ends! What we see here is a black subculture lacking in impulse control, and another effect of lack of impulse control is not obeying the law. And as I’m suggesting, a group that breaks the law more often will probably be breaking pandemic protocol more often as well.

The National Vital Statistics Reports also track birth rates for unmarried women. According to 2018 figures (Table 10, p. 26), unmarried black women 18 to 19 years old had babies at a rate 2.27 times the rate for white women in the same category. Although women in this age bracket are considered of-age adults, having babies at that age probably isn’t a very good idea. The black rate was 2.26 times the white rate in the 20- to 24-year-old category and 1.88 times the white rate in the 25- to 29-year-old category. For all the remaining age categories, the black rate remained well above the white rate. Now to be fair, it must be acknowledged that some unmarried women with children may be the other half of a devoted couple who never formally tied the matrimonial knot; but are we going to see much of that in the inner cities, or are we more likely to see single mothers struggling along with little or no support from their “baby daddies”?

These National Vital Statistics Reports figures also help shed light on the causes of inner city poverty. Inner city areas are considered to be economically depressed areas, and that means there are too many people and not enough jobs to go around for those who need to be working. So when people who have no business having babies—underage girls and unmarried females unable to support a household—pump those babies out, they are creating yet even more people who won’t be able to find work, thus furthering the cycle of poverty. Household composition is another factor in poverty. Household A, for example, consists of a very young single working mother with an unplanned baby who is not receiving support from the “baby daddy.” Household B consists of an older, more mature working couple with a baby they planned on having together. Which baby is more likely to inherit money or property (and perhaps be able to pass money or property on to his own children)? Which baby is more likely to go to college (and therefore be able to land a better paying job, a job he might be able to work from home in the event of a pandemic shutdown)? The plight of the baby from household A has absolutely nothing to do with slavery, Jim Crow, or redlining; it has everything to do with a young woman’s decision to have unprotected sex with an irresponsible yahoo.

We also have to address the accusation that black Americans are being made obese and therefore being victimized by fast food outlets and that they live in “food deserts” where it is more difficult to find healthier, off-the-shelf food choices. Well, get that horrendous murder rate down—along with the rapes, robberies, and assaults—and maybe better food choices will open shop in more black neighborhoods. And people aren’t doomed to obesity—a preexisting condition making them more vulnerable to the virus—by simply eating fast food; rather, they become obese by consuming too many calories. A man who becomes obese by regularly putting away a double-meat cheeseburger, an extra large order of fries, and a chocolate shake at the fast food place on his lunch breaks could have maintained a normal bodyweight had he instead opted for a hamburger and an iced tea on his lunch breaks at that very same fast food place. Inner city residents need to be thanking their lucky stars that anyone would put any kind of eatery in their neighborhoods that would not only provide them with access to meals but also provide them with an opportunity for some kind of employment.

To sum up, certain of black America’s problems are of their own making, the consequences of their own actions, and this can have an impact on their susceptibility to the coronavirus. White people aren’t pointing guns at the heads of black people and forcing them to engage in promiscuous, unprotected sex; white people aren’t pointing guns at the heads of black people and forcing them to smoke, drink to excess, and do drugs; and finally, white people aren’t pointing guns at the heads of black people and forcing them to gobble too much fast food. Rather, a certain class of black people are deliberately doing all of the above of their own accord.