Black folks have been a target of white hate since the end of the civil war and slavery. I guess its hard giving up free labor and the ideology that makes Black folks lesser human beings and not entitled to the same rights as whites. Even though we have been free about 150 years we are still being plotted against.
We Black folks are good at sitting back and taking injustice and prejudice quietly. Like the great migration north and west. It was a quiet movement against the caste system established in the Jim Crow south to keep Black folks down and suffering. We did what any other people would do who wants freedom. We left the south. Over the years, we have had to endure various injustices and political plans against us. But now in Ferguson, Mo., Black folks have taken to the streets to protest and riot because of the murder of Mike Brown who was unarmed and shot while his hands were in the air.
Ferguson is a suburb of St Louis, Mo., and St Louis is the headquarters of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). This organization is like the so-called respectable “citizens’ councils” formed in the 1950’s and 1960s to fight integration and maintain the southern way of life. This organization boasts as one of its founders the segregationist Lester Maddox, ex-governor of Georgia. In 1998, the media exposed prominent congressional republicans for their affiliation with this organization. For example, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, who was Majority Leader, was forced to resign over his affiliation with the CCC. Over the years, the CCC had friends in high places like former senator John Ashcroft of Missouri who fought desegregation of St Louis schools. The CCC openly celebrated when President George W. Bush appointed Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General with the newsletter headlines “Our Ship Has Come In.” So, can you imagine the decades of the influence of this organization in the state of Missouri. Is this why Ferguson police force of 52 officers and only 3 are Black when the population is two-thirds Black.
Thank God, the Black citizens of Ferguson are not being quiet!!
I don’t know why the passing of Maya Angelou has given me a guilty melancholy feeling towards the fact that I have not read any of her books. Especially, the book “Why the Caged Bird Sings” that’s a Black classic. Maya is iconic. So along the way I have bought Black classics at the half price book store with plans to read them one day. I have read some of her poems. But, I don’t understand the guilt over not reading Maya Angelou’s classic book since hearing of her passing.
Her story is no different than some Black women. Maya was bounced back and forth from mother to grandparents during her childhood. I know quite a few women, including myself, who are half raised by mom and half raised by grandparents. And then there’s the rape that sets Maya apart from the rest of us or most of us. After being raped at 8 years old by her mom’s boyfriend she didn’t speak for almost 5 years. There are some Black women today that have lived through a childhood tainted with molestation and rape and can identify with Maya while others can only sympathize.
The years since “Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Maya has produced more autobiography and memoirs even at the age of 85 years old she penned yet another autobiography titled “Mom & Me & Mom.” I would love to read this one. I wonder what her relationship was like with her mother especially after the rape.
I admire Maya and I‘m sure many have been inspired by her. There is no doubt that her legacy will live on.
National Museum of Natural History – Race Exhibt
Racial disparity runs through every major system impacting
children’s life chances: limited access to health care; lack
of early Head Start and quality preschool experiences; children
waiting in foster care for permanent families; and failing
schools with harsh discipline policies that suspend, expel and
push more children into juvenile detention and adult prison.
We must identify key decision points where disparate treatment
of poor children of color can and must be systematically
addressed and monitored.
The Children Defense Fund report states that children who are considered at risk are those who live in poverty. How many kids do you know personally that live in poverty? I think we need to define what’s the definition of “poverty” according to theUnited Statesgovernment. Well, the government is using a dollar ($) measure in calculating if a person is living poverty. For example, a family of 4 living in poverty is making $22,050 or less. A table is used in the calculation that was created in 1960. Everyone agrees that it’s outdated but no one is doing anything about the guide so the “poor” is being taken advantage of again by the very source they look to for help, the government.
Another risk is babies born to young single moms. In the Black community its almost a normal state to see single moms and their children. Yes, its more than just one child born to a single parent. Even the girls/young ladies that tote bibles to church on Sunday morning are having babies. And in some cases the father is never mentioned even during the pregnancy.
So how many children do you know that are at risk because of being born into poverty and born to young single mothers too?
A Need for a Comprehensive Continuum of
Support from Birth to Adulthood
Children and families do not come in pieces or neat packages that fit one or
another “program” or “strategy.” They are a complex amalgam of biological potential
and environmental realities, of culture and family and community role models, of
assets and risks. Analyzing causes and effects, and understanding the links among
all these factors, requires separating them into subject areas, systems or knowledge
areas. That is how data are gathered and kept, professionals are trained, programs
are funded, budgets are made and services administered. But we must not lose sight
of the whole child.
Like an insurance company’s actuarial chart, it is possible to predict from “risk
factors” the likelihood of a child ending up stuck in the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.
Much research and Cass’s and Curry’s case studies show major risk factors to be:
- poverty, especially extreme poverty;
- family composition where single parents, teenage parents, alcohol- or substance-abusing parents, a parent in prison, a parent abandoning the home—all predict increased delinquency;
- lack of health care, from prenatal care for pregnant women to preventive screening for children and youth of all ages to detect illnesses that block learning,hearing, seeing or concentrating;
- babies born at low birthweight, which is a risk factor for later physical, developmental and learning problems;
- abuse or neglect during childhood that goes unnoticed or untreated and fueled by poverty;
- foster care placements when families break down (especially in families not related to the children) risk abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation, low self-esteem, anger and poor social relationships;
- poor school quality where not reading at grade level, failing or acting out are met with police intervention, and suspensions or expulsions leading to dropping out altogether;
- few timely and quality mental health program interventions in communities to provide care in a timely manner to prevent or interrupt negative behavior or remediate problems causing children to get into trouble;
- the juvenile justice system which cements many children’s sense of hopelessness and offers too few positive programs, too late, to change the Pipeline’s trajectory;
- and throughout all these major risk factors is the disparate treatment of children of color.
Research also shows that if a child has one or a few of these risk factors, while
potentially harmful, there’s a good chance that the child’s resiliency and some intervention
by a teacher, a counselor, a mentor, a relative, a pastor or some other adult
offering encouragement, assistance and guidance can save that child from falling into or
staying in the Pipeline. CDF’s Beat the Odds celebrations of and scholarships for
children overcoming unbelievable obstacles attest to the power of one caring adult in
a child’s life. But a young child exposed to six or more of these risk factors is ten times
as likely to commit a violent act by age 18 as one who experiences only one or a few
risk factors. In a hospital nursery, behind the glass of newborns in 2001, that one in
three Black boy babies and one in six Latino boy babies will end up in the Pipeline
and in prison is a national tragedy. Unless it is addressed head on, it will disempower the
Black and Latino communities and undermine family stability and child socialization.
The challenge for each of us and for the nation is to prevent it—for preventable it is.
This is excerpts from the Children’s Defense Fund report “America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline Report” that documents the intersection of poverty and race that puts Black boys at one to three lifetime risk of going to prison. Tens of thousands are sucked into the pipeline every year.
My blog will be dedicated to dispersing this information over the next month in digestible chunks.
“It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.”
– attributed to Frederick Douglass
Children Born into the Pipeline 1
Eric came into the world on April 26, 2004, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and already is in the Pipeline to Prison before taking a single step or uttering a word. In early May, when he was two weeks old, he was a tiny brown bundle lying across the lap of his 19-year-old mother in the Wynton Terrace housing project on the north side of the city. She was staying temporarily in a unit rented by one of her sisters because the electricity and gas had been turned off in her aunt’s house, where she had gone with Eric and his brother, 19-month-old Tae, when she left the hospital. She doesn’t have a phone or child care or access to a car so “it’s kind of hard to do anything.” The closest store is ten blocks away. She said she would like to finish high school and get a job. She liked school but “I had a lot of problems. I was running away all the time. I wasn’t getting along with anybody,” she explained, describing ongoing fights between her and her siblings and her mother, who once called the police to take her to juvenile detention. She lived with the boys’ 26-year-old father until he punched her in the stomach when she was eight months pregnant with Eric. She called the police and he went to jail. “He didn’t get as much time as I thought because his lawyers said he had some kind of mental illness.” He does not have a job and has been in jail before.
At two weeks old, Eric should have all possible futures open to him in America, a culture that believes life outcome is determined by the individual alone. In reality, this infant boy already is not in the trajectory that leads to college or work; he’s at the beginning of the pathway to prison—or, if not incarceration, a life on the margins. If Eric is imprisoned 18 years from now, no one is likely to look at the risks he faced in his early years or the disadvantages of his childhood circumstances. He will be another bad youth to be punished for his criminal acts. It will be too late then to think of what could have been done back when Eric lacked stimulation and proper nurturing at two weeks old or when he began having behavioral or emotional problems at school or when he fell behind, got suspended and dropped out, or when he received little positive attention or guidance from the adults in his community. It will be too late then to realize that interventions known to make a difference might well have neutralized the risks and put him on the path to a productive life.
Prayer warriors – pray for our boys!