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Facing the Black community's problems: family, crime, economics

Armstrong Williams | 3/21/2013, 12:08 p.m.
At Thanksgiving, embracing the winds of change and increasing our faith

The Black community currently faces, collectively, a series of problems, each related to the other, intertwined, each compounding one another, and we must face them all together; we as a nation cannot ignore any of them.

Interest groups, fundraisers and politicians would like most to believe that circumstances can be changed with retooling underprivileged areas, as though people were robots, without any study of behaviors and free choices, which is about as effective as bringing a tennis racket to a baseball field.

Those in authority have their own agenda; they treat moral transgressions like food they pass over in a buffet line-they don't want to hear or think about them, so they don't. Against these well-funded politicians and interest groups feasting on the "social ills" of Blacks as though they are inanimate objects unable to make their own choices, we must affirm their freedom and look at the choices many of them make.

First, there is the family. The percentage of poor Black children who live in single-mother households is 85 percent; such children are four times as likely to live in poverty as those with two parents. Since a majority of Black youth are being raised by single mothers, we must study these mothers. I have found that 38 percent of these mothers live below the poverty line, 62 percent of these mothers have never been married and almost half of them were also raised by single mothers! The lack of a proper family structure has become a revolving door of ill behavior. Is it possible that a horrible family structure could spill over to other areas of life, including employment and education?

Within the Black community, there has been much talk of bringing about a change to every person of color, and while the methods to bring about this change are constantly debated, many Black people-including myself-agree that a change is needed.

There is crime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, while Blacks only make up 12 percent of the population, they account for 44 percent of all prisoners, which makes them the majority of any race in prison. Demico Boothe, a former prisoner turned writer, composed a book entitled "Why Are There So Many Black Men in Prison?" He writes: "African-American males are being imprisoned at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Out of the 10.4 million Black adult males in the U.S. population, nearly 1.5 million are in prisons and jails, with another 3.5 million more on probation or parole or who have previously been on probation or parole. Black males make up nearly 75 percent of the total prison population."

It is estimated that one out of every 10 Black males will end up in some form of correctional facility in their lifetimes.

There is economics and finance. African-Americans have a current unemployment rate of 17 percent, while whites have an unemployment rate of 6 percent. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the rate for unemployed Blacks has grown constantly in contrast to whites, and in some states the unemployment rate for Blacks is as high as 25 percent. United for a Fair Economy reported that Blacks are three times more likely to be poor than whites. African-Americans are the highest collective group, outside of Native Americans, under the poverty line ($19,500), at 24 percent. The median annual income of a Black woman with a bachelor's degree in comparison to that of a white male is almost $20,000 less. African-Americans have a 45 percent dropout rate; whites have a 31 percent dropout rate. Black women also have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, at 126 per every 1,000 women.