It is a cliche, but worth repeating, that there are more black men in prison than in college. This is in spite of affirmative action programs at many universities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at midyear 2004 there were 4,919 black male prison and jail inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States. That compares to 1,717 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males and 717 white male inmates per 100,000 white males.
Yes, there is racial bias in the criminal justice system and while not all fatherless blacks are in prison, a large percentage of prison inmates come from homes that had no father when they were growing up. Indeed, the Heritage Foundation notes that the absence of a father is the single most important cause of poverty and crime. This is the source of the problem as well as the starting place for the solution to many of the problems confronting poor blacks.
The Jackson-Sharpton-Farrakhan "trinity" may give lip-service to the importance of an intact black family, but their preaching revolves around personal grievances, Bush-bashing, government programs and sometimes anti-Semitism.
What would help would be more positive, father-centric cultural models, starting with the "dissing" of Black Entertainment Television and its predominately rap-ho culture. It is as stereotypical and injurious as the stereotypes promoted by the "Amos 'n Andy" TV series of the 1950s.
One black leader who wasn't invited to speak at the Mall, but should have been, was Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, author of "Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America." Writing for WorldNetDaily.com, Rev. Peterson, who is black, says, "All Americans must tell blacks the truth. It was blacks' moral poverty - not their material poverty - that cost them dearly in New Orleans. Farrakhan, Jackson and other race hustlers are to be repudiated - they will only perpetuate the problem by stirring up hatred and applauding moral corruption."
Don't look for Peterson to be among the speakers at the next event of this type, but what he says deserves consideration.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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