Inner-city rednecks

The remnants of Southern “redneck” culture are holding back urban blacks, argues Thomas Sowell in his new book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. In the Wall Street Journal, Sowell writes:

The culture of the people who were called “rednecks” and “crackers” before they ever got on the boats to cross the Atlantic was a culture that produced far lower levels of intellectual and economic achievement, as well as far higher levels of violence and sexual promiscuity.

. . . While a third of the white population of the U.S. lived within the redneck culture, more than 90% of the black population did. Although that culture eroded away over the generations, it did so at different rates in different places and among different people. It eroded away much faster in Britain than in the U.S. and somewhat faster among Southern whites than among Southern blacks, who had fewer opportunities for education or for the rewards that came with escape from that counterproductive culture.

Nevertheless the process took a long time. As late as the First World War, white soldiers from Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi scored lower on mental tests than black soldiers from Ohio, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Again, neither race nor racism can explain that–and neither can slavery.

The “counterproductive and self-destructive culture” of ghettos isn’t authentic black culture, Sowell argues. It’s redneck culture.

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  1. Has anyone read this book? If so, spill it. I’d guess this book has the capacity to be excellent or completely worthless. Or both.

  2. lindenen says:

    Does Sowell define what is or isn’t authentic black culture? It would be interesting to see what cultural elements from Africa have survived to this day.

  3. From the Amazon blurb, this book seems to be a compilation of newspaper columns that look like they flow from ideas Sowell has pursued over the last ~25 years. So if you have read his books, it is likely redundant (unless there are some commentaries on more current events).

    I have read several of his books recently, and am now finishing the trilogy that includes “Race and Culture”, “Migrations and Culture” and “Conquests and Culture”. I don’t think Sowell would recognize “African” cultural elements as being “authentic” when referring to African American culture. He is arguing that certain cultural aspects of black communities were adapted from European-derived communities, and are not some kind of remnant African feature. He analyzes socioeconomic data based on cultural influences, and evaluates how those cultures came to be. He often mocks the intelligentsia for trying to argue that one cultural aspect is more authentic than another.

  4. I read lindenen’s post several times and didn’t see any of the following words: Africa, African, or African-American.

    Makes me wonder why dw’s reply used those words.

  5. Jack Tanner says:

    dw – ‘The Vision of the Annoited’ is a fabulous book.

  6. Katherine C says:


    You didn’t see the word Africa in “cultural elements from Africa”? Want to read the post one last time?

  7. Typo, sorry.

    Katherine, you seem like an awfully charming, sweet girl – are you single?

  8. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Thank you, Tom Sowell, for daring to tell the truth, in all your books and articles…you are like the little boy who points out that the Emperor has no clothes. Race and ethnicity don’t matter….values and ‘culture’ do. If only the cowardly political leaders of both parties and race-baiters like Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan, ad nauseum, told the truth as well….