Black Perspectives; The Future of the Black Family, Part 2, with Jean McGuire
Welcome to a half hour feature focusing on black issues information and lifestyles of the communities of Boston and the salt sure. My name is Charles Desmond your host for black perspectives. Tonight I want to extend a welcome to my guest executive director of med Cohen an outstanding member of the Boston School Committee. This is the second part of our series discussing the future of the black family. Last week we introduced the series with Minister Don Muhammad from the temple of Islam some of the Special Topics with the series will focus on is the alarming rate of pregnancy among young black women. The impact of the Church past and present on the black family the deteriorating lines of communication between black and black men and black women in some time is the major problem that we see taking place in the cities with our youth and that's the alarming rate of drug abuse among young teenagers in the black community. Jane I want to thank you very much for joining us again on the show you're a frequent visitor. With respect your insights into a variety of different issues. We're looking forward to a very eventful discussion tonight about the black family.
Thank you for inviting me. And I hope that you know our conversation today. We can look at some of the underlying. Causes that exacerbate the very conditions which you just highlighted. If we look at the black family perhaps 30 years ago. Unemployment among black men. May be partly because of World War 2 and some of the increase in investment in job opportunities and housing growth that took place. Between World War 2 and career in Vietnam allowed the continued employment of black men which began on an upswing after the depression both through the WPA and the CCC and then then that limited involvement that we had in the war effort in terms of jobs in factories so that you seldom saw the kind of structural unemployment that is plaguing the black community right now.
We also do not have automation to the extent we have now. Nor did we have. The the growth of computer technology that is now beginning to change the aspect of the face of employment not only in America but around the world. So what we have is what is the fallout. The flip side to increased numbers of black males who are now unemployed as well as underemployed is the restrictions on the ability to support the family in the traditional way either a husband working or husband and wife and teenage children working. When you are as a black faced not only with teenage unemployment but increased permanent black male unemployment and it's no wonder that we see. The normal wish for fan families say to be parents or to have a future in hope either in education or job stymied by this phenomena which people often blame themselves for not understanding
that it's more a structural. Societal problem rather than just their personal problem. And so we have. Large numbers of adolescent girls both black and white. Who. Who. Do don't defer parenting. They are being bombarded with ideas that this is what you do to become somebody you you love somebody you may bear a child who's not because you plan to be because that is the end result of loving someone without say contraception or saying no when deferring because you have other things going for you in your life and then you have black males who also have no future nothing to do. No money in a society where everything you see is the result of advertisement buy this do this go there look like this wear this and you don't have the means to do it. And the one thing anybody can do perhaps when they don't have any money is it make love. You know you can eat. Let me let me interrupt you here for a minute because I think you're heading into it more
deeply into this. An analysis of the issues before and I think that what we're seeking to do is to get an analysis of the issues but before doing that there I'd like to get an assessment from your perspective you're an elected public official. You have very close contact and communication with the community. I'd like to get an assessment from you of where do you see the black family in Boston at right now. Do you see. The family structure and the community structure strengthening and soften Boston do you see it further deteriorating in Boston. Do you see it just staying in a steady state that is no permanent change or no permanent advancement. Well I certainly would be would be remiss if I did not say that there are tremendous pressures on both black families particularly those who are earning under $25000 a year in this city one of the highest cost of living cities United States and poor
people in Boston both black and white because I think it's sometimes a mistake to assume that because what we see where we live is terrible that it isn't happening somewhere else but it's clear that whenever you can't pay for your fuel whenever you can pay for your rent because that payment is beyond one quarter of your monthly income there are going to be tremendous pressures on the family. People then live in housing that's too small for the family numbers. People are pressured to deliver. Bringing home the bacon safe to do you think it's the man or the man and the women and either one or both of them cannot get a job or get a job that pays enough money you begin to put pressures on the relationships between those people whether they're young or older and the family structure starts to fall apart. It takes other agencies and other forms to help hold together families and under tremendous pressure. People go to places for meals they go to places for fuel assistance. They go to places to get training for a better job. They hope that the schools will do a good job taking care of the children
while they're out there looking or out there working at a part time job. At the same time when you can't deliver. And you have people depending upon you you can be you. You can really be assured that there's going to be a lot of stress and it's clear in social service agencies and in the public schools in the police department and anyone who deals with the public in either a personal working way or even in the street. That. There is a fall out. People turn to drugs so they turn to alcohol give you maybe instant way to avoid the pain of your reality but of course that's not a way out and so agencies try to organize people in their behalf to get power to move Congress to move the legislators to look at their status as one that's real in Syria so I think that yes there is. There's a great deal of stress in the black community in Boston. Well let me I'm going to play the role of devil's advocate right now because I I hear and I'm going to ask I'm going to prime this in in a
in a way that I generally might not frame a statement but i usually the traditional systems to traditional structures of support in our society have been the school in the church in the family school the church in the family and a job and a job. You know I would say very much the means to survive economically is fundamental. Now we see. Son some modes addressing the concerns might be to these quote unquote social service agencies that is that we look to these agencies in these support systems to provide as with what we can what's not available or what is not made available to people in society. Yet now we see a president ministration in Washington that saying this isn't our responsibility it isn't something that the government should be doing. Individuals should be self-sufficient should go out and do these things on their own. Do you see this in contradiction with with with with the with the with the individual who
basically cannot get out can't get a job for one reason or another. And at the same time you have a system that's saying well if you can't get it on your own you're not going to get it at all. So I see a contradiction in the statement that says that people should be able should be able to go out and get support when they can't do it on their own. And at the same time a society that's saying don't look to us for anything more because we're going in. We want you to do it on your own. Well you're very accurate accurately describe the Mean Machine which I would say characterizes the present administration in Washington and those people who claim not to be a part of the bill who support that mentality I've got mine Jack so it's up to you to get yours obviously in any society. There are always people who are one interdependent on each other I mean all of us I don't grow my own banana's I don't I don't drill my own oil I don't lay in my own streets and I don't drive my ambulance when I'm sick. Obviously I'd have to depend on a lot of people to to function not only in a
society in an earlier time but in a very modern society where technological advances mean you're even more interdependent. The minute one little thing goes in your car your expensive machine is sitting right there in the middle of a highway waiting for a tow truck and you better have money to pay the tow truck. So for persons to feel that somehow I got mine or we got ours and therefore we have no responsibility you is a description of a society which I will not support. As a citizen I don't want to pay my taxes to a society that's not going to look out for those who at any given time are in need and that means in need of government officials who plan to get rid of structural unemployment people have a right to a job. A right you can't have the philosophy which you just described as devil's advocate and not provide a system which provides that the absolute right to anyone who wants it to have access to a job. This city is dirty. This city has housing that needs repair this city has housing that needs to be insulated. This city has children need to be taken care of. This city has streets that need to be paved. The city has a very low
vacancy rate and therefore needs new housing. This city needs to take better care of its elderly the city needs recreation workers for its children and yet we have unemployment. There is something fundamentally wrong with any political or governmental or economic or fiscal structure which does not provide for the very people whose children you asked to go and fight in Grenada on stupid wars to support somebody else's economic investments as a private police force with public citizens children or in Vietnam or any are any of the other exercises in futility which our government uses our money for. While people have very human needs a government which does not provide that is a government that is eventually going to fail and we have seen that happen many times in the world. If you cannot provide for the where with all for. A good life and by a good life I mean shelter food health care and education and recreation and cultural access. Then the gross national product and all our things are not going to save
us. We are not driving just American cars. We are not listening to just American main radios in TVs we are not wearing shoes that I just made in America nor are the labels in the back of half the people in this listening audience. Maybe in Lynn Brockton St. Louis and New York we are involved with the whole world and if we don't care about unemployment and poverty and hunger not only here but abroad then we're going to be a part of it. It's something fundamentally wrong with a country that takes people's taxes and says we're not going to use those taxes to make you have excess excess is good education. Almost everything we do requires that you can read and write. But none of these people to talk about can't even do that. Let me answer let me interrupt you right here to tell our listening audience that your this is black perspective. Ninety one point when you're listening please stay tuned while we take a brief break now and we are resuming our discussion with Gene Maguire on the future of the black family.
The Boston branch and level ACB is offering free legal advice on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 8pm. There will be two attorneys present on these evenings for you to consult with about your legal problems. The office is located in 451 mass and in Boston. The phone number 2 6 7. 1 0 5 8. That phone number again is 2 6 7. 1 0. 5 8. We're back from a brief intermission on WMD ninety nine point nine FM. You're listening to black perspectives and I'm Charles Desmond your host. Tonight we're talking with Gene McGuire from Boston School Committee and executive director of Mexico on the future of the black family. Broke you were getting into an analysis of this interdependence structural network global society that we have in how events that take place in one place in the world have impact on people in other places in the world. And this
obviously is a very deep important as it relates to the black family. As we look at the black family in the continental United States there have there's a historical set of variables that have in some ways placed the black family in a very precarious. Position in America and that these are you know as you know historically rooted in slavery and discrimination in such a type that some people believe in has been documented to still exist today in America. How do you see as we look at the black family. Confronting these issues as you talked before the issues of structural unemployment of disproportionately high levels the new technologies discrimination global competition for labor that is that people who work for a dollar a day in Guatemala competing with somebody who wants to work for $9 a day. What do you see the future for the black family flying in. Can we address these problems in light of the situation that you're creating.
I always try to look at. The cold reality which is sometimes red hot depending on who's who is getting burned with the optimism that we have a responsibility to life and that as long as people understand that they will band together with others who are like minds and like spirits and do those things which enhances life so that even though things are gloomy for many of us they've been gloomy in the past and we haven't survived this far. Not to assume that we can't somehow overcome by organizing by beginning to trust that our collective actions will give us the kind of result we want. You can't take unemployment sitting down. You've got to force both your government officials and your private sector fish officials to realize that it is in their best interests to have people employed.
It is no good to manufacture things if at least a third of the population can afford to buy them. Because in that analysis that in fact you have a weak economy and although some of the public will have if you have larger and larger growing populations in cities and in rural areas and quiet as it's kept us out in the suburbs who cannot make it then you are in extreme danger. Of fracture in both trust in government as it stands people don't pay taxes to governments they don't trust and in the same 40 of those individuals the gaps between the haves and the have nots have always cause a stream safety and police problems in any society from the beginning of time. If you go by and you're well dressed and well fed and two thirds the people around you are dying of hunger have bad teeth haven't had decent food in their stomach can't pay their rent don't have a roof over the head sleeping on the sidewalks. You got problems because you're not safe. You're only safe when there is hope and that people feel their own efforts can move
forward so if if say a young couple. Who wants to get married or young people in high school who who see television and radio and they read books and it says this is the way it's going to be. You're going to get an education get a job and you can be able save up buy a house to be able send your children to decent schools they'll have even better education than you did and you're going to go to the movies and out to dinner sometimes and maybe take a vacation and buy a car and pay for your health insurance or it'll be taken out because will eventually have sense and get national health insurance so that people don't have to worry about you know the exigencies or wipe you out when you have an auto accident or a terrible debilitating chronic illness or a sudden illness that wipes you off for three or four months. So those kind of things don't pull you all apart. Then all of a sudden you find out. There aren't any jobs outside of making burgers. I don't have the skills for this or I find that people of my color never drive trains or they seldom fly planes or they're not seen building the houses or they never get the apprenticeships or the never in certain
places that aren't seen but you see the pictures in the paper when there are always people who don't look like us or who who want male or female whatever you're looking for and then you begin to say well wait a minute where do I fit in here and after a while you have to borrow money for carfare to go look for jobs across money look for jobs every time you get on the T and go back you've got a $2. Almost anywhere if you ride a bus and a train you've got another dollar added on to it. Somebody has to pay for the person who doesn't have. And when you have to do that your dignity. Your dignity is is is is. Ever under attack because you have to ask for a handout. Nobody really wants a handout people would like to know. If I get on hard times as a way to help myself but there's a way to get out of it so I'm not there permanently. There are some people who in society will never be employed. There are people. Because we don't know enough about schizophrenia we don't know enough about severe neuroses. We don't know enough about. Why people continue to
be addicted to alcoholism and drugs except that there's availability and there's lack of hope and you can get caught up in it you know do not necessarily have to be without money to be involved in those. But when it takes a hold in your society and when people profit from it then that's there to fill the gap of looking for a job and saving for a home and investing your money in a bank or a money market account in seeing hope for the future. And that means hope in little ways. Able to pay your carfare able to buy your clothes. Able to go to college and maybe pay it back because when you graduate there will be a job for you. But if as you say you are in competition with companies owned by American firms in other countries where one they're not unionized and people often do not even have the right to organize in the workplace and they make that Maidenform bra for a dollar fifty six a day. While you get 550 in New Jersey and it sells in filings basement for $10 a bra somebody is walking off with a whole lot of profits and using those somebodies as we can see now reading our business pages many of them. Not only do not pay any federal taxes but they
get rebates back. So obviously tax reform is a part of what we're talking about economic and fiscal and monetary policy are a part of it but the individual doesn't know all these things all they know is my husband and my boyfriend are I got laid off we never could get a job and we're tired to look at and go in and being told well don't call us we'll call you. And after a while you tear into instant feelings of goodness which might be could be a strain and coma could be a beer or it could be a joint it could be whatever people do in anger and despair to get on over a good society has appropriate responses for people to get on over and to move forward. And some of those are the agencies would you do to help each other. But for many people here people don't see beyond it's their fault. He's he or she is lazy. I know there's a job out there somewhere go get it or I know you can earn more money get a second job. But when you see our society shrinking the opportunities and not providing new ones then not only government but private industry is is is very much at fault for not planning
the kinds of. I think I should definitely adopt in Doris the model again self-help in that the individual can become a contributing member a taxpaying member a contributor to the tax areas as opposed to someone who is basically a tax and negative import in the sense that they're receiving benefits yet they're not producing any of the wealth that drives the system and makes it operate. What do you see. I mean obviously I mean I think we do you have a robot. Yeah well you do with robots who can do it onerous and dangerous and repetitive work. What does society provide for people whose jobs are replaced with machines or computers that run the machines or. Some way of automating what used to be done very onerously in very great length by numbers of people. I mean obviously a computer could do the work of many people but it has to be maintained it has to be built and has to be tied into so what do you do with enforced leisure. This may be the first society in the
United States with college degrees and high school diplomas who may or may not depending on whether we have forced administration to do what they should do who may not have any. Any way of looking to the future where they are productive and involve members of society because we're talking about people's dignity. What you do every day makes you a person being passive and watching other people just doesn't cut it. Whether you're teaching anybody or you or you're having a family a family has to do things together. One of them is to provide for the wherewithal to pay the bills when they can have that they are fundamentally in trouble and then they put a burden on other members of the family or the extended family who have to support them. So a lot of what people view when they look at unquote the black family is really a mirror image of a society that's not functioning very well and I'm not negating individual choices when you do have a job where you do have the need to work out differences in roles and what people should or shouldn't do via what they did in the past that's I think that has less to do with black and white than it has to male and female and power relationships between employer and employee
between city and state between local government and state and federal government. Those are populations as they're always in a flux and always changing depending upon the needs that people perceive at a given time. I think at this time there was a clear role for the federal government and the Congress and the Senate to help us stablish those kinds of policies which can help the least well-financed forms of government state and local governments to provide for people what they need. Business in the United States. If you want to give companies tax breaks through loopholes and deferments and all the other millions of little ways we allow people not to pay taxes then they should take that profit and invest it in Lynn and Brockton in Saugus in Bari mass and down the cape in Springfield and New Bedford. They should be investing it in other countries if they need it here first. But that's not what you're seeing and I don't think governments can control corporations they have a right to do what they want pretty much now. And we we have the best government money can buy right now in many ways. That doesn't mean that
those of us who see this happen don't have a responsibility to take those many people don't get involved many of them poor and say look you can move those people out of office. You can but you got to understand that it takes you when that other member unemployed brother insisted to do it. And it's hard to take people who don't belong to regular organizations or go to regular meetings and you don't control the media. To say this is what's really happening. You're not the only one in the state. Look at Peoria Illinois. Look at Detroit. Look at Houston. Look at New Mexico. Look at some of those cities in Mexico that people talk about the sundial and look at the people living around there have no place to live again even get water which is another whole issue I want to talk about because we have some basic infrastructure problems that if anyone drives around any city in the United States and looks at the DK and deterioration the lack of repair of bridges and streets and sewers and storm drains repair of housing for people and they feel they can invest in nebulous systems to protect us from some enemy in outer space from around the world then we ought to be using our
business clout and our diplomacy to resolve our differences or to see that this country is in trouble. If I was an American and I took a look at the South Bronx and I took a look at Troy and I took a look at some of the streets in Boston I'd say we are in serious trouble as a country. I mean serious trouble because the way people live tells you what a country is really like. When we ask you with regards to again I think that as we I mean if you look at blacks in America today who represent you know some 20 to 30 20 some people believe 20 and some people believe as high as 30 percent of the population this has a lot of people. That's right. More than that when you look at underemployment it's closer to 60 percent. One out of three black people are extremely poor. If you take the ones who aren't counted it's much higher. It's not as high in the larger American population. But structurally it is in in certainly in the rural areas in the foreign countries will be giving more and more corporate farms that little preview you have all the little family farm you can forget it takes a heck of a lot of money and tagline It's not
good business. It's agribusiness now and who does agribusiness used to use the work they use they use imported labor a little because they don't want to pay and we don't want to perhaps to look at what happens we have those little mice frozen vegetables in those nice oranges and that nice fresh crisp in a chin was how we got it on our table are we willing to pay that price. Let me interrupt you here because I think as we're winding Our show up. Sort of bringing a focus to what I think that we've been talking about and I what I hear you saying is that an analysis of the family is in a mouse's of America in that when we look at the problems of the family and we look at the the pressures on the family in the different directions that families are being torn and pulled that we cannot look at those in isolation and without looking to see how the family fits as a component within our society as a whole. My roles are changing I mean obviously of two people have often always worked in black families in most poor families where we are where it was often required and many
people are widows or widowed or who have been divorced. There's obviously those the role changes. People people have to do homework housework. Both people have to care for children and that means that men now have to be very cognizant of the issue of childcare in daycare and the quality of people it takes to make the next group of citizens have a good start. And that if you plan for your workday to support your family somewhere you as a society have to hear in the family what happens. Do you want to relative to take them Are you willing to pay them the going wage. Is there a grandmother not around like they used to be 40 years ago. Not necessarily good not going to a three bedroom apartment so we are building in some of our problems the way we build our houses. Let me say then this is again going to very extremely interesting and provocative discussion I think that any analysis of the black family or the family in general in America has become an extremely complicated thing to do. You cant just look at it in the traditional ways as you're saying and we have to become much more. Global and I
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- Part two of the series "The Future of the Black Family," featuring guest Jean McGuire, executive director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) and a Boston School Committee member. McGuire focuses primarily on the stress that high unemployment puts on families. She also discusses the impact of Reagan Administration cuts to social services, and how to address the current economic realities facing black families.
- Black Perspectives is a public affairs talk show featuring in depth conversations about issues of interest to the African American community.
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Copyright Holder: WUMB-FM
Guest: McGuire, Jean
Host: Desmond, Charles
Producer: Pierre Louis, Gary
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- MLA: “Black Perspectives; The Future of the Black Family, Part 2, with Jean McGuire.” 1988-04-17. WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-51vdnj49>.
- APA: Black Perspectives; The Future of the Black Family, Part 2, with Jean McGuire. Boston, MA: WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-51vdnj49