Actor Denzel Washington stressed that the influence of family in the black community is the most important factor in keeping children out of crime. The prison system should not be blamed, he said.
“It starts in the home,” he told The Grio. “If the father is not in the home, the boy will find a father in the streets. I saw it in my generation and every generation before me, and every one since.”
“If the streets raise you, then the judge becomes your mother and prison becomes your home,” he added.
In his new movie, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” Washington plays a criminal defense lawyer who works to address social injustice.
Elaborating on what he meant to The New York Daily News, Washington said that positive changes for the black community begins with how children are raised.
“It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure,” the actor said.
“So you know I can’t blame the system,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.” (Fox News)
Nevertheless, he said he found hope in the 1990s that the youth would turn things around.
“I remember when I was doing the movie ‘Malcolm X,’ and we were doing a speech up at Columbia, we had a bunch of students from Columbia University,” he told The Grio. “In between takes, we were talking about things and how tough the world is, and I was like, ‘With everything we’re talking about, does it make you want to give up?’”
“And they’re like, ‘Oh, no no, we’re gonna change it,’” Washington said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m the cynic.’”
“So I pray that young people never lose that fire, I don’t think they will. And needless to say there’s a lot for them to work on,” he added.