01/29/11 — New determination: We talk about the problem and finding a solution, but now we have to mean it

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New determination: We talk about the problem and finding a solution, but now we have to mean it

It couldn't have been easy for Mayor Al King to speak out ... again ... about the plight of black youths in Goldsboro and across Wayne County.

It must have been somewhat discouraging to realize that he would likely get calls -- about disloyalty, about alleged untruths and about airing dirty laundry.

That is what some people do to those who care too much to continue living in the delusional land of "not in my neighborhood."

The fact is, Mayor King is right.

The problems with black youths are not going away -- and we are losing more and more of them to drugs and crime every day.

So while pointing out the young black males who are succeeding feels good, it is not the solution we need, not if we really care about the future of this community's young people.

And not if we are honest.

Of course, there are root causes to discuss -- the disintegration of the family is one, the number of students who seem to abandon education and legitimate careers in favor of selling drugs is another.

We could talk about the lack of black male role models in some families and living conditions these children face in others.

We could look at all those factors -- and should.

But we have to acknowledge something else, too.

Just complaining about the problem is not going to solve it -- and if we don't do something, the results are going to affect all of us.

So we need programs for young men -- and for any child who faces a less-than-supportive home life or who could use an adult to look up to.

We need them engaged and interested in learning -- even if their parents can't or won't encourage them.

We need to educate young women and men about the need to be responsible -- to understand that a baby is not a toy or something you can discard when you are tired of it. We need to help them see the consequences of a teenage birth. We need to show them that welfare and food stamps is not a life and that they could have and should want more for themselves and their families.

We need to be tough, too -- on repeat offenders and the drug dealers who lure our young people into lives from which they cannot escape.

We need to do all this -- as a community.

And we could use some help, too. We need leadership from black and white churches as well as true commitment from anyone in elected office.

And, more importantly, we need leadership from the state and local chapters of the NAACP.

What a statement it would make if an organization like this would stand up and say, "There is a problem and we are going to do something about it -- even if it is hard for us to hear." And then actually address the real issue.

A protest march to take back the streets is great, but it is not enough.

We are losing a generation.

Protesting flags in South Carolina can wait.

Published in Editorials on January 29, 2011 11:50 PM