My friend Charles Krauthammer, a thinking man’s pundit, believes some problems cannot be solved. Charles points to the Palestinian-Israeli situation and to the collapse of the traditional black family in America. I disagree. It is possible to change black attitudes, but it will take a dynamic person to lead the way.
The primary reason that Trayvon Martin is not alive today is that George Zimmerman feared him. Making his neighborhood watch rounds, Zimmerman saw a young man wearing clothing that unsettled him. Zimmerman profiled the teenager, and from there, things rapidly got out of control.
There is a perception in America that young black males can be trouble. According to a study out of Northeastern University, black men between the ages of 14 and 24 commit homicides at a rate 10 times that of young white and Hispanic males combined. This disturbing fact drives profiling and fear.
The reason that crime among young black males is so intense is the collapse of the traditional black family. Fifty years ago, the out-of-wedlock birth rate among African-Americans was 25 percent. Today, it is nearly 73 percent and growing, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By contrast, 29 percent of white babies and 53 percent of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock.
Single-parent situations drive poverty and often lead to unsupervised kids. Many boys growing up without fathers often feel angry and abandoned. Thus, they seek comfort in all the wrong places.
President Obama and our leaders in Washington surely understand the root of the black crime problem. So do self-appointed civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. But they rarely discuss the matter in public. That might anger their constituency and be bad for business.
When was the last time you saw a demonstration discouraging young black girls from getting pregnant outside of marriage? When was the last time the president held a press conference on the issue? When was the last time we saw the federal government put out a public service announcement encouraging children to reject drugs and violence?
Maybe Jay Z could produce a PSA. How about Lil Wayne? Kanye West? These guys make millions rapping about dubious behavior. Sometimes they glamorize it. So why don’t they lead the charge to improve things in Chicago’s South Side and other places under siege?
There was plenty of outrage in the black precincts regarding the Zimmerman verdict. Understandable. But there is little national anger about thousands of African-Americans being gunned down in the streets by out-of-control young men, the vast majority of them black.
Until the American leadership begins to encourage the return of the traditional black family, the enormous problems of black poverty and crime will continue. And the fear of young black men will continue. And the death of innocents will continue.
Maybe Jay Z can rap about that.