Friday, June 18, 2004

Kerry & Blacks: Educated or Incarcerated?

In Ohio, Kerry spouts his version of facts in a pandering way:

"Talking about education yesterday, Mr. Kerry also told the largely black crowd at the day care center that there are more blacks in prison than in college. 'That's unacceptable,' he said. 'But it's not their fault.' Rather than the inmates, the former Boston prosecutor blamed poverty, poor schools, a dearth of after-school programs and 'all of us as adults not doing what we need to do.'"

What is you initial intellectual reaction (I suspect your initial physical reaction involved a gag reflex)? Perhaps to agree that generational poverty changes the risk calculus for black youth and thereby encourages a criminal lifestyle? That the broken system of public education clearly shoulders some blame, being one that allows marginal students to stay on the margin and thereby the fringes of society? That some form of continued supervision after school until a parent can be present may be beneficial, particularly if that additional time is needed to secure and hold employment? Perhaps that we "adults" simply need to be doing more in our children's lives?

Each of these initial reactions takes the bait that Kerry is dangling. But let's first visit the predicate - "there are more blacks in prison than in college."

The US DOJ tells us the number of blacks incarcerated at mid-year 2002 (page 11, Table 13): 818,900 black men; 65,600 black women; total 884,500 blacks.

The US Census Bureau tells us the number of blacks in college during 2002: 802,000 black men; 1,476,000 black women; total 2,278,000 blacks.

Hmmm ... think, think, think. Did he mean black men? But then how do we at once chastise ourselves for the slightly more black men incarcerated versus in college, yet not be somehow rewarded for the overwhelmingly positive disparity in black women?

In fact, the US DOJ link informs of that they were fewer people of all races and genders incarcerated throughout the United States - every person in every jail, prison, and penitentiary - a total of 2,019,234, than there are blacks in college (2,278,000).

Who does this clown's research?

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