Black in America

This weekend I watched a little of CNN’s Black in America series and, while listening to them discuss the role of hope in education for young black men, I was struck by the parallels with helping people find recovery:

JABALI SAWICKI, EXCELLENCE CHARTER SCHOOL: So, the key here is incentive. I think the reality is — our young boys, our children need to believe in school and they need to be able to celebrate their success in the school. So whether it is financial incentive, whether it is a school that can associate academic success with being an African American male or African American female. That’s what we have to do.

The challenge how can we motivate and inspire our children to once again believe that school is a magical place, that school is a place empowerment and overcome the sense of disenfranchisement and disenchantment that many of them feel everyday. At Excellence, which is our school we have a 99 percent African American population of all males. Every single day our teachers, our leaders in he school he to find a way to convince these children, these scholars that school is an empowering place for them to succeed in life.

O’BRIEN: And what’s that way, how do you take a kid who may say I don’t know anybody who finished 11th grade. Why do I have to finished 11th grade?

SAWICKI: The key is there are people that are successful. But we a school have the ability to bring in adults who absolutely believe that every single one of our scholars can go to college. So college becomes the message of the school. When scholars walk through the door in kindergarten, every single adult is talking about college not as an if, but a when. And by positive messaging by creating opportunities to create a self-esteem and to give them belief and show them models of academic success we feel that we’re situated to provide something real and tangible that they can buy into.

Our clients need a system that talks about recovery “not as an if, but a when” and connects them with success stories.

One of the panelists, Roland Fryer, was extremely impressive. He’s even more impressive once you read his life story. In 2006, Fryer published a study of the impact of crack cocaine in the black community. It provides a brief history of the trajectory of the crack cocaine epidemic and it’s disparate impact on violence, child welfare and arrests.

Our index of crack is strongly correlated with a range of social indicators. We find that the rise in crack from 1984-1989 is associated with a doubling of homicide victimizations of Black males aged 14-17, a 30 percent increase for Black males aged 18-24, and a 10 percent increase for Black males 25 and over, and thus accounts for much of the observed variation in homicide rates over this time period. The rise in crack can explain 20-100 percent of the observed increases in Black low birth weight babies, fetal death, child mortality, and unwed births in large cities between 1984 and 1989. In contrast, the measured impact of crack on Whites is generally small and statistically insignificant. We estimate that crack is associated with a 5 percent increase in overall violent and property crime in large U.S. cities between 1984 and 1989.