"I think there’s fear of intimidation, harassment being legitimized by the fact that there is a high rate of crime, especially among young black men," Williams said. "No. 1 cause of death, young black men 15 to 34 — murder. Who’s committing the murder? Not police. Other black men." -- Juan Williams
Juan Williams, an African-American journalist, was commenting on the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old killed in an apparent confrontation with a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, recently. The story garnered national attention, leading to riots, looting, protest and the United States Justice Department deploying 40 FBI agents to find out if the officer shot Brown because he was black. The case is before a grand jury.
Specifically, Williams was saying that there are serious problems with young black males committing crime at a ratio well beyond their numbers and that is the reason they are “racially profiled.” We are human and when people see a certain kind of person doing something -- anything, good or bad -- at a much higher rate than other types of people we naturally develop a mental profile of the kind of person who does such things.
For example, without knowing skin color, when someone tells me they saw an awesome basketball player I immediately think he is black. Why is that? Because most awesome basketball players in America are indeed black. Does that make me a racist? In the same way, when I hear of a convenience store robbery, without knowing the skin color, I immediately think it was a young black male who committed the crime. Why is that? Because night after night I see the faces of young black males on the news arrested for crimes. Does that make me a racist? Which begs another question: does a stereotype only become racist when it is negative? Or can one have a positive stereotype based on race? What about the idea that “white men can’t jump”? Is that racist?
The primary reason for the crime problems among young black males is because so many of them never had a dad at home. Babies born out of wedlock have now become the norm in the black community. Kids need a married mom and dad in the home. That is the biblical model and that is common sense. Solve the problem of fatherlessness and you greatly reduce crime and incarceration while at the same time increasing success educationally and in the workplace.
I’ve heard many, many testimonies of men of all colors who grew up without their dad in the home and how they felt a sense of abandonment, which often led to emotional pain, rebellion and troubled lives. That is not always the case, but there does seem to be a common theme when you hear these stories.
Horace Cooper is co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board. Project 21 describes itself as the “National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives.” He made some interesting comments recently: “In 1950, 1955 and 1960, when you look at the data points, here’s what you see: Black Americans are far less likely to be convicted and incarcerated as felons than the broader community. Today, that number is exactly the opposite. We also see that in 1950, 1955 and 1960, that the out-of-wedlock birthrate was lower in the black community than it was in the rest of the community. Today, that number is entirely going in the wrong direction. Some two-thirds to 70 percent of all black children are born out of wedlock. You can’t continue down that pathway.”
A reversal of these numbers is possible. But change will have to come from within the black community itself. Hopefully, for future generations of young black males we will see this start to happen soon.