Baltimore is a city with a black mayor and black police chief making one pause at the notion of municipally ordained police brutality against black men. Perhaps because of this, racial activists, politicians (our president included) and the liberal media have quickly shifted the issue of criminal behavior - looting, arson, violent attacks against police - to what is characterized as its underlying cause - poverty and unemployment in their city. Although both are serious problems in Baltimore, it’s time to question whether violent rioting and criminality are inevitable consequences of economic deprivation.
Comparing the list of American cities with the highest poverty and the cities with the highest murder rates reveals that Baltimore is 5th in the nation for homicides but not even in the top ten for poverty. The city that is classified as the poorest is Flint, Michigan with an unemployment rate of 13%, yet it doesn’t appear on the list of 10 cities with the highest murder rates. Nor do Athens, Ga; Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio; Hartford, Conn; or Syracuse and Rochester, NY, also in the top ten for poverty. In addition to Baltimore, the cities with the highest murder rates are Detroit, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis, Birmingham, Jackson, Miss, Cincinatti and Oakland, Ca. All told, only Detroit appears on both lists. So perhaps the automatic assumption that poverty leads to violent behavior is one that needs more open-minded study. Though it’s too racially charged and politically incorrect to state this, Flint has a population that is 66% white and only 25% black whereas Detroit, number one for murder rate, has a population that is 75% black. Similarly, almost every city on the top ten for murder rates has a black population exceeding the white or Hispanic one - ranging from 51% - 83%. (all statistics are from AreaVibes.com or the U.S. Census)
The tv news broadcasts prominently featured the video of a black mother in Baltimore chasing her 16 year old son and beating him for joining the mob throwing rocks at police. She took him home with her,later giving interviews and instilling hope in viewers that there were other parents like her in a city that has become a war zone. Unfortunately, the black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, caved in to pressure and apologized a day after correctly labeling the rioters as “thugs.” It’s an insult to the morally sentient black people in America to excuse outrageous behavior fomented by juvenile delinquents, gangs, criminals, drug dealers and opportunistic race-baiters. As for the precipitating powder keg in this excuse for growing protests, the final word is still not in on what happened to Freddie Gray, a man who had a record of 18 previous arrests dating back to 2007. Although that doesn’t mean that the police should be presumed blameless in his death, it does mean that we need to wait until all the evidence has been properly evaluated.
Black Baltimore has a serious problem but most of it rests in the issues identified by Senator Moynihan five decades ago: single parent families without fathers, school-dropouts, subsequent lack of marketable skills, drug use, gang affiliation, criminal behavior. The cycle can only be ended within the black community itself and it has to start with early childhood. Racial discrimination is not what keeps black men unemployed; lack of education and/or technical skills are to blame for that. Instead of mass protests against beleaguered cops, there should be mass drives to ensure that black children stay in school, get tutoring help and understand the importance of self-discipline. Those who do have risen higher in this country than anywhere else in the world. Just ask the two-term president of the United States whose educational opportunities, along with those of his wife were no different from those of the wealthiest American one-percenters.
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