Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson wrote a searing op-ed piece this past Sunday in the New York Times wherein he connects the injustice in Jena, Louisiana, the prison system, and the Anucha Browne Sanders-Isiah Thomas case. Citing the Browne Sanders-Thomas case, Patterson writes:
What is done with words is merely the verbal end of a continuum of
abuse that too often ends with beatings and spousal homicide. Black
relationships and families fail at high rates because women
increasingly refuse to put up with this abuse. The resulting absence of
fathers — some 70 percent of black babies are born to single mothers —
is undoubtedly a major cause of youth delinquency.
He goes on to say:
The circumstances that far too many African-Americans face — the lack
of paternal support and discipline; the requirement that single mothers
work regardless of the effect on their children’s care; the
hypocritical refusal of conservative politicians to put their money
where their mouths are on family values; the recourse by male youths to
gangs as parental substitutes; the ghetto-fabulous culture of the
streets; the lack of skills among black men for the jobs and pay they
want; the hypersegregation of blacks into impoverished inner-city
neighborhoods — all interact perversely with the prison system that
simply makes hardened criminals of nonviolent drug offenders and spits
out angry men who are unemployable, unreformable and unmarriageable,
closing the vicious circle.
Now, I’m not going to claim that Black rock can solve all of this. But, it does have the ability to inspire us and to spark the imagination in new ways. New imagination will be critical if we are to confront the demons–in the form of tired assumptions and accepted behaviors–that hold us back.
Patterson’s article is available here and it’s well worth the read. Yet another reason that the fight must continue.