Yet when authorities first charged 10 of the youths with felony assault a week later, they declined to file hate crime charges. When hate crime charges were filed against eight of the youths a full three weeks after the attack, the local NAACP branch said, "We do not have sufficient information to determine whether this is a true hate crime, and we just have to monitor this." One of the Long Beach defendant's uncles published a pamphlet explaining that "white bitches" -- another of the epithets allegedly hurled at the white victims -- is an acceptable phrase in some urban environments.
NPR finally got around to mentioning Long Beach -- a month later. And the NPR piece was really about whether blacks, given America's history of racism, can even commit a "hate crime." NPR moderator Farai Chideya put the following question to her guests: "...Some people say black folks cannot be racist because the root of the issue is power. So what do you make of this crime where you've got 12- to 17-year-olds and, you know, black people attacking whites? Is this a traditional hate crime? Should it be prosecuted as such? People in the community are kind of divided about that." Perhaps Chideya might ask the young white female victims whether they felt that their black attackers lacked "power."
Flaherty describes a mob attack at the Milwaukee State Fair, in which hundreds of blacks roamed inside and outside the fairgrounds, singling out and attacking whites. Local media broadcast the 911 calls from panicked fairgoers. He also writes about similar attacks at the Iowa State Fair over a three-day period, where a police report says some blacks involved were chanting, "Beat Whitey Night."
So why is this happening? Look to the family.
As then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told a mostly black congregation: "Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it." In 1960, only 5 percent of children were born into single-parent households. Today it's 40 percent, with nearly 75 percent of black children born to single mothers.
"Dear Father, Dear Son," my latest book, is about the importance of fathers -- even gruff, tough ones like my Marine dad who was raised in Jim Crow South -- in instilling the values of right and wrong, and of empathy for others. Kids from homes with good values don't go around knocking people out.