"Black Males Left Behind" and "Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men" provide a new round of dismal statistics regarding inner-city black men. Fifty percent high-school dropout rates, with almost three-quarters of these dropouts in their 20s unemployed. Sixty percent of them had spent time in jail by the time they reached their 30s.
The behavior of these young men is defined by crime, drugs and promiscuity.
Unfortunately, these types of statistics about young black men are no longer news.
However, what I do find revealing is the common ground between how these men behave and how academics view them.
For the academics, the inner city is a laboratory. Do research on how condition A produces behavior B. And what can be done do create condition C to produce behavior D.
Except for allusions here and there to issues of building character, there is no hint that this human tragedy reflects a moral crisis.
It's not an accident that when the inner city became a laboratory for politics and university research in the '60s and '70s, the black family collapsed. Single-parent black households have almost quadrupled since then.
Today, inner-city black children grow up in broken families, go to public schools where traditional values are off-limits, and consume popular American culture that celebrates the relativism that has destroyed these communities.
In an article about the state of affairs of marriage in the black community, Joy Jones wrote recently in The Washington Post: "I was stunned to learn that a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today. ..."
Black conservatives understand that the social collapse in our own communities cannot be viewed in isolation. It reflects an American problem every bit as much as a black American problem.
Academics may do research to shed light on history and where we've been. But it is a huge mistake to think that they can produce guidelines for how to behave tomorrow.
Only traditional values can provide this direction, and the extent to which they are getting marginalized is a crisis for all Americans of all backgrounds.
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