In his Community Voices essay, Chris Fields notes that members of a local church were “outraged” at the Zimmerman verdict and the “implications for young black men.” There was no mention of any outrage about Trayvon Martin’s school suspensions for truancy or other parts of his juvenile record. We can understand why Fields is “still not sure what lessons both blacks and whites are taking away from this tragedy.”
Fields suggests that we will have justice for black people “when America recognizes white privilege as the main problem and takes steps to do away with it.” As a white Stanford University graduate, I suppose that I am part of the white privilege problem to be dealt with.
I suggest that another and more important reason for the high percentage of young black men in jail is because they commit more crimes. And the reason they commit those crimes is not white privilege or lack of high schools like Cristo Rey. The reason lies in early life in homes where a single parent lacks the time and resources to provide a competitive background for her child. The child arrives in elementary school to compete with “privileged” children who often can read and use the computers that the black child has never seen. The understandable result is that the black child either lashes out or more likely drops out.
I would be happy to pay more taxes toward a strong preschool program, one of the few effective programs which could help with this very important issue. If reigniting our passion results in a willingness to pay taxes for programs like preschool, I am with Fields.
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