Project 21’s Washington: Put Community Focus on Results, Not Racism

To solve the “homicide epidemic” and related problems of crime and hopelessness in urban areas, Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington says there needs to be more community improvement and less lamentation about racism being the root of black America’s problems.

In a new commentary, “Cities Need Solutions, Not Scapegoating, to Solve Homicide Epidemic,” published by RealClearPolitics, Stacy focuses on the plight of her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Noting that “the share of black crime is much larger than its population” and the black community is the most victimized by it, Stacy focuses on the city’s excessive murder statistics:

Of the 205 murders in St. Louis last year, at least 193 of the victims were black. Of even more concern, 72 percent of those homicide victims were aged between 17 and 40. The “American carnage” to which President Trump so often refers is mostly young black men felled by other young black men in urban areas.

This must end.

In 1961, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King asked a church congregation to own up to some devastating facts on black crime, “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards. We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.”

Fifty-six years later, it is well past time to have “the talk” again – but, this time, no scapegoating, only solutions.

While noting the segregated nature of St. Louis as well as her own recent experiences with intolerance, Stacy remains critical of the “prevailing sentiment” of many black leaders to “shirk responsibility and lay blame on others” and engage in “meaningless rhetoric” about pervasive racism being a major reason for black suffering.

Stacy contended:

Isolated and mired in poverty and crime, many young urban blacks feel trapped by their circumstances, because opportunities seem so distant and unattainable. In many communities, black students who excel in school are physically assaulted, told they are “acting white,” and made subject to merciless ridicule. Furthermore, too much of black popular culture lauds irresponsible and dangerous behaviors from making the quick buck to consequence-free sex and, even, violence. In some quarters, these “values” are not just the norm but considered aspirational.

It’s a recipe for ruin.

But the time for “having conversations” is over. Senseless homicides are robbing our city of its treasure – the very young men and women who would partake in the American dream, if only they could live long enough to see it through…

Stacy suggests communities develop long-term strategic plans focused on “pulling in all of the stakeholders to get real about the link between poverty and crime and to leave race out of it”:

There’s no cure-all for poverty and inner-city homicide rates. But let’s start by replacing the discussion of racial animus with concrete efforts at improving black cultural norms, reducing segregation, and addressing poverty through the promotion of intact families. We’ve tried everything else with very little success; it’s time to get back to basics.

To read Stacy’s complete commentary in RealClearPolitics, click here.

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