Response to Juan Williams’ Wall Street Journal op-ed on race and guns

Dear Editor:

I respect Mr. Williams for bringing attention to the issue of guns and race (Race and the Gun Debate op-ed, 3/26), but he’s misguided. It’s wrong to point to the rise in single-parent households as the main reason behind gun violence affecting inner cities.

The glorification of violence associated with the underbelly of the hip hop culture, the absence of popular after-school activities, and the under-involvement of engaged and upstanding adults–especially men–in the community are the principal causes. If the overwhelming majority of messages young people receive are negative, and there are no positive counter-messages, how can we expect them to make good decisions?

President Obama has had an extraordinarily positive effect on many young people in the black and Latin communities. But they’ve never not dreamed of becoming successful.  Many, like my 12 year-old biracial nephew, say the mere presence of the president and Mrs. Obama has made their dreams seem more achievable.  But unlike my nephew and other young people who are surrounded with positive support and engaged in a plethora of extracurricular activities, many are being lost under the weight of economic pressures still facing their families.

These pressures have diverted the attention of many parents. Many, struggling just to stay afloat and provide basic needs, have even put pressure on their children to contribute to the household finances. With this added pressure from home, no real jobs to speak of close by and darned little else to keep them focused on laying the groundwork to build successful futures, it’s a safe bet to say the true impact of the president’s influence on young people of color won’t be felt until they all feel the benefits of the economic recovery.

Tawana Jacobs

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