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The American Conservative:
When I grew up in the overwhelmingly white blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia known as Levittown, a soft white supremacism was pervasive. When blacks were spoken about at all, it was rarely if ever positively. The conversations generally involved words such as “lazy,” “uneducated,” “immoral,” and “irresponsible.” The stereotype employed to justify this judgment was that of the able-bodied black man on some form of public assistance who sired a few children with a few women who were also on welfare. It was a decidedly decadent and self-destructive culture, according to the adults outside my home.
Some 20 years later, the problems once identified with the black community—joblessness, out of wedlock births, criminality—have taken on a lighter hue. As the social critic Charles Murray recently chronicled in Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, the white working class has been ravaged over the past half-century by the same afflictions they once looked down their noses at their black neighbors for. Marriage rates have declined. Divorce rates have increased and out-of-wedlock births have exploded, meaning more children raised in single-parent homes. The number of blue-collar white men in their prime working ages who dropped out of the labor force more than doubled. Disability claims skyrocketed. The number of white prisoners is up nearly 500 percent since 1974. For the new white upper class, however, as Murray shows, experiencing these problems is like taking a dip in an otherwise tranquil sea and drowning due to the undertow: it happens, but only rarely.