The Cause of Black Male Failure: It's the "P", not the "N" Word

04/16/2007 02:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The problems experienced by a majority of young Black males in America
are not connected with the use of the "n-word", but with a lack of use
of the "p-word"...parenting. Blaming the dire statistics on any other
cause will not only fail to resolve this issue, but will make it worse.

A school district in New York is the latest group to make a wrong turn.
They've decided that the way to reduce the catastrophic suspension
and incarceration rates of Black males is to segregate them in all
Black schools and teach them only with Black men.

This misguided, racist approach is counter-productive for many reasons.

• It's wrong because it assumes that the problems encountered by Black
males have been caused by other races, and that eliminating
multi-racial contact will eliminate the problem.

• It's wrong because it will further brainwash students with the
"us-versus-the rest of America" philosophy that is poisoning an entire
generation of young Black children.

• It's wrong because it denies the unique individuality of every child
of any color, and requires skin pigmentation to be the ultimate
determiner of what and how a child is taught.

MOST of all, a segregated schools approach is doomed to fail because
it cowardly avoids confronting the real cause: the homes these
children come from. Horrible social behavior by far too many young
Black males is no one else's fault but the parents who are raising
them. Children do what they're taught and what they're allowed to do
by their families. Rude, lazy, gang-banging, drug-abusing,
disrespectful, law-breaking children come overwhelmingly from the homes
of parents who tolerate that behavior. . Here's a small example. As
the principal of a West Coast middle school at one time, the best child
in my school and the worst one were both Black, and in fact, lived next
door to each other in a rough housing project. Both families were
headed by low-income single mothers, who were both raising several
children. The mother of the outstanding child had raised clean-living
children who all went to college, worked hard, had strong values, and
excelled. The mother of the horrible child had raised a houseful of
drug-abusing thugs, who dropped out of school, respected no one of any
color, committed crimes, and were totally worthless. People of all
races helped and loved the children of the effective parent. No one of
any color could stand the children of the ineffective parent.

When people complain, implying a prejudicial motive, "Why are Black
males suspended and incarcerated four times disproportionately to their
part of the population?", they're asking the wrong question. The
question that should be asked is, "What is it about much of the
parenting going on in the Black community, that is resulting in their
sons breaking the rules so much more frequently than anyone else's ?"

There is unarguable proof that the cause of Black male failure lies
primarily with poor parenting and not prejudice. This proof is the
thousands of Black parents, both rich and poor, who have raised
countless children to be successful in school and beyond. They have
achieved this by letting their parenting reflect the words of Martin
Luther King: it's the "content of (your) character", and not the
"color of (your) skin" that matters. Successful Black parents (and
successful parents of all colors) have become so by teaching their
children to find a way to succeed, rather than looking for an excuse for why they failed. And it is this group - successful
Black parents - that should be leading a movement to overhaul the
entire parenting philosophy of the Black community. When we do this,
we'll be attacking a primary cause of the entire race issue in America.

When we do this - and not until we do - we'll start to see some long
overdue progress.