The black community faces, collectively, a series of problems, each related to the others, intertwined, each compounding one another, and we must face them all together; we, as a nation, cannot ignore any of them.
First, there is the family. The proportion of poor black children who live in single-mother households is 85 percent. Such children are four times more likely to live in poverty as those with two parents. Since a majority of black youths are 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 had never been married and almost half of them also were 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?
There is crime. The U.S. Census Bureau says blacks make up 12 percent of the population but account for 44 percent of all prisoners, which makes them a majority of any race in prison.
Demico Boothe, a prisoner turned writer, composed a book titled "Why Are 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 1 out of every 10 black males will end up in some form of a correctional facility in their lifetime.
Other factors are economics and finance. Blacks have an 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 than whites to be poor. Blacks are the highest collective group, outside of American Indians, under the poverty line ($19,500), at 24 percent. The median annual income of a black woman with a bachelor's degree in comparison with that of a white male is almost $20,000 less. Blacks have a 45 percent dropout rate; whites have a 31 percent rate. Blacks also have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates at 126 per 1,000 women.
I have a solution to many of these problems: God, the family, community and education that balances creativity with discipline. As President Reagan said in his "A Time for Choosing" speech: "If government planning and welfare had the answer - and they've had almost 30 years of it [now they've had about 70 years] - shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?"
Patrick F. Fagan of the Family Research Council notes that young black men with married parents go to jail at the same rate as white men with married parents - there is no racial gap - and young black men without married parents go to jail at the same rate as white men without married parents.
"The reason for the education gap is not income," Mr. Fagan says. "It's marriage and parents." The same is the case for crime and drugs.
The old answers of government planning and welfare are not good enough. We deserve real solutions. The failures of safety nets do not justify more and more safety nets.
• Armstrong Williams, author of the 2010 book "Reawakening Virtues," is on Sirius Power 128 from 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside. Read his content on RightSideWire.com.
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