I am really tired of seeing the black family analyzed, especially when the analysts do not inspire anyone to produce better schools or more jobs for blacks, but do provoke ill-informed people to unleash a new barrage of slander and venom at black people.
Even a first-rate television program such as the one Bill Moyers presented on CBS last Saturday winds up with a destructive impact because of what reviewers, columnists and other commentators choose to emphasize.
I've read and heard a lot of stuff by people using Moyers' show as a jumping-off point that suggests not too subtly that the black family is going to hell, or disappearing, because blacks are inherently oversexed and immoral, and are therefore producing too many babies out of wedlock; that blacks have been rendered weak and irresponsible by the welfare system, and that the real villains are civil rights leaders who have absolved blacks of blame for illegitimacy, crime and other failures by using what columnist George Will calls "the all-purpose alibi of 'white racism'."
Will is a compassionate, knowing man when he writes about physical handicaps such as Down's syndrome, of which he has painful personal knowledge. But Will's compassion and knowledge turn to meanness and ignorance when he writes of another handicapped youngster -- a ghetto lad on Moyer's program who boasts of being "highly sexed" and having "strong sperm" and who expresses no guilt about getting girls pregnant.
Will has no firsthand basis for understanding that this black lad's birth and life circumstances are every bit as crippling as Down's syndrome. Because Timothy does not exemplify the sophisticated morality to which those in Will's and my circles give at least lip service, Will feels free to make the outrageous assertion that "the Timothys are more of a menace to black progress than the Bull Connors ever were."
Will is right in that many white Americans will cite the Timothys as justification for continuing the deprivations and discriminations in education, employment, housing and other areas that have left millions of Timothys just this side of slavery. Will doesn't seem to understand that Timothy is in part a creation of Bull Connor and those who quietly shared his views about how to handle "inferior" blacks.
This brings me to a point raised by the very title of the Moyers show. There is no stereotypical black family, and there is no single black America. Black families in which the parents have good educations and decent jobs are among the most stable in America. Parents and children in these families adhere to old moral standards and conventions with a passion equaling that of any other group in America.
No civil rights leader or anyone else in this more privileged, sophisticated black America is telling kids trapped in the ignorance, violence, drugs and general hopelessness of the ghettos that it is okay to impregnate teen-age girls. The Urban League has been screaming, "If you can't be a father, don't make a baby!" That moral message is hard to sell to unsophisticated youngsters who see a sex-filled soci- ety in which Ryan O'Neal and Far- ah Fawcett or Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall can produce babies out of wedlock and never lose stardom and acceptance.
Obviously, neither Will nor the White House powers to whom he is so close want to accept any blame for the woes of so many black families -- especially those who have been pushed out of middle-class status by the White House policies of the last five years. So Will leaps gleefully from a CBS program that is done with sensitivity to his own absurdly insensitive argument that the real imprisoner of blacks is a ghetto kid named Timothy.
There is no hope for poor black families or for America if that mentality prevails.
c1986, News America Syndicate "Black families in which the parents have good educations and decent jobs are among the most stable in America."