“Generational poverty” is often used or taken as code for “black.” Even by those who mean well.
However, rural poverty is just as persistent, and it of course is as caucasian as it is anything else and usually more so. I do find Thomas Sowell’s “Black Rednecks” thesis intriguing, that it’s lowbrow Scots-Irish culture that infects the poor of both races:
[Wiki, sorry]: “Sowell argues that the black ghetto culture, which is claimed to be “authentic black culture”, is historically neither authentic nor black in origin. Instead, Sowell argues that the black ghetto culture is in fact a relic of a highly dysfunctional white southern redneck culture which existed during the antebellum South. This culture came, in turn, from the “Cracker culture” of the North Britons and Scots-Irish who migrated from the generally lawless border regions of Britain.
Sowell gives a number of examples that he regards as supporting the lineage, e.g.,
an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship,… and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery.”
I’ve done some poking around on my own, and as recently as 1950 or so, both marriage and employment rates for blacks and whites were approximately equal.
[See also Herbert G. Gutman’s seminal The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925.]
Something happened since then. Indeed, whites have been similarly beset by an increase in these pathologies, albeit not as accentuated as in the urban black community.
Indeed, see Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, of which John Derbyshire wrote
Americans may find it surprising that most of the people wallowing in this slough of ignorance, illiteracy, promiscuity, bastardy, intoxication, vice, folly, lawlessness, and hopelessness are white English people. Much of what is described here is the sort of thing Americans instinctively associate with this country’s own black underclass. There is some satisfaction, I suppose, though of a very melancholy kind, to be drawn from the revelation that sufficiently wrong-headed social policies, persisted in with sufficiently dogged refusal to face simple truths, will visit moral catastrophe on people of any race.
I find this essential to keep in mind while discussing this subject. Race may be a factor but only in degree, not kind. “Code” is unnecessary [and then the predictable implication of a racist agenda] in looking at the problem, if we’re to look at it at all.