American "racial" demographics

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Mon Jul 13 14:28:30 PDT 1998

Note the following gratuituous--nay, insidious--reference to the increasing proportion of (racial) minorities in the US workforce, an absurd datum, I suggest.

>From WW Rostow's new book The Great Population Spike and After:

"In fact the undervelopment of American inner cities has a great deal in common iwth underdevelopment abraod. The major difference--more important than initial income per capita--is the greater weakness of the families in the American inner cities. For many contemporary inner-city children, vialbe families do not exist, and dufficient education is not acquired to enter the workforce or the professions at a satisfying level. As a matter of long-term trend, the old dynamics do *appear* still be working--that is, the proportion of African Americans and Hispanics entering hte middle and white-collar classes appears to be rising.(my emphasis) But for a large number of minority children, men, and women, the system of institutions from prenatal care forward fials, bringing about great human tragedy, which transmits itself into American society as a whole. "In the short run society is protected from the full, potentially disruptive consequences of this failure only by enormous safety net and remedial expenditures that mitigate but do not solve the problem. *Something like 40% of the entrants into the workforce are minorities, and this proportion is rising.* (my emphasis). In the longer run, the size and productivity of the effective workforce will be reduced, and the unity of our communal life placed at risk. This is probably the greatest forseeable danger to our national security..." (p.168)

Over on marxism-thaxis in a conversation that went private, I had an argument about whether the higher rates of sterilization of black women in comparison to white women suggests a state policy of racial genocide. I argued not. I argued that the sterilization seems to happen after the woman has had all the child births she wants, though poor and in particular black women seem to be denied the same oppty to forms of birth control other than sterilization; I agreed however that doctors may for various reasons perform sterilizations or tubal ligations or even unnecessary hysteroctomies more often on minority women than even on other poor white women (it's a way to make medicaid bucks as only sterilization and norplant are subsidized, less qualms about oversurgery on racialized people, etc); I pointed to the difficulty white women have had in getting hospitals to agree to perform tubal ligations which seems to account for some of the disparity (the percentage of black women sterilized seems to be 1.5x greater than white women, though some claim it is 3x as high); and finally I suggested that many poor women consent to sterilizations because they are fearful that they may not be able to afford an abortion later.

I then underlined that as many black nationalists act like their white Christian brother maniacs in denouncing family planning centers and abortion clinics, they may be contributing to poor and black women consenting to sterilization--that is bringing about the very acts of what they term black genocide which had them oppose freely available abortions for minority women in the first place. Katha Pollitt rightly argues in her last column the that struggle for freely available legal abortion is no sideshow. She depicts the horrifying effects in Chile and other third world countries from criminalization of abortion; it is important to determine whether the unaffordability of abortion is inducing poor women to sterilize themselves against their will as well.

The use of family caps has convinced many the state is now steps away from active genocidal attemtps to prevent births among the poor altogether. This is leading many minority nationalists, in particular the Nation of Islam, to want to smash family planning and abortion clinics. This dangerous tendency must be fought.

The whole debate about abortion, welfare, reproduction, the underclass is only getting more confusing and frightening. I hope all those engaged in this debate try to work out how to advance human autonomy and capabalities. And please don't silence because it is identity politics or doesn't fit within the parameters of the New Deal.

best, rakesh

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