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The Streets: Bad Educational Tool -- 3 of 6 parts

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Richard O. Jones
After reading the enormous piles of statistics on the racial disparity in the American prison population,

I have come to the conclusion that nothing has done so much to destroy the future of the Black youth than the striving after the mirage glorified in popular culture.  This is a generation of crack cocaine and degenerate music. Even the Black women are now in prison in record numbers. Prior to 1987 there was only one women’s prison in California, California Institute for Women (CIW). Today there’s at least four. It’s ironic, during slavery less than 2% of Blacks were in prisons. Slavery was their prison; in fact, we came to this country as prisoners.

Within five years after the Civil War, the percentages of the Black prison population went from close to zero to 33 percent…Overnight prisons became the new slave quarters.

The national average of Blacks in prison increased from approximately 33% immediately following slavery to 39% 100 years later. That was only 6% in over a century. However, after 1980 to present, in less than twenty-five years, since the music, movie, and media glamorization of Blacks involved in drugs and crime, the prison population for Blacks has skyrocketed to nearly 50 percent nationally. In some Southern states, South Carolina for instance the Black prison population is 68 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons. That’s more than twice the figure in the year 1870.

Currently we have more brothers in prison than enrolled in college.

It’s oblivious where our young males’ priorities are. Who are their role models? In 1999, there were 757,000 Black men in federal, state and local prisons, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. There were 604,200 African-American men enrolled in higher education in America, according to the autumn 2003 issue of the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Do the math.  Voluntary ignorance is a true sellout.

What are the streets producing?  The streets as our youth know it are fattening them for an insatiable snake called prison. We can’t wait on another government program.  We can’t expect the greedy sellout entertainers to start behaving responsibly.

I once heard a story about a little boy who was walking on the beach.

He saw a crawdad struggling to make it to the ocean. The boy picked up the small sea critter and tossed it farther towards the ocean.  Then he picked up another and did the same thing. A man standing nearby walked over and said with compassion for the lads’ efforts, “Little boy, look around. There are thousands of crawdads on the beach struggling to get in the ocean. You can’t possibly make a difference.”

The boy stopped for a moment and looked. He then realized that there were crawdads as far as he could see and he couldn’t possibly help very many of them. However, he picked up another and tossed it towards the ocean, saying, “I make a difference to that one. Then he picked up another and said, “And I make a difference to that one.” Soon the man began to pick up crawdads and toss them even farther into the ocean, also saying, “I make a difference to that one.” Shortly thereafter, other people on the beach became tossing crawdads into the ocean. It is incumbent on every concerned citizen try to make a difference.


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