AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

First, let’s stop talking about boys and young men “of color.”

Japanese-American boys and young men do not have problems finding good schools. They are not disproportionately stopped, questioned and frisked. They are not pulled over for “driving while Asian.” They are not disproportionately incarcerated. Neither are boys and young men who are Indian, Korean American, Cuban American, or Iberian and Argentine American.

The issue is about boys and young men who are the descendants of enslaved Africans.

Second, stop talking as if the behaviors of young black men and their parents are behind the problem. Does anyone really think that if young black men and boys pull up their pants and do their homework that incarceration rates will decline? Do we think this would suddenly inspire vast improvements in our inner-city schools? Do we imagine this would help more young black men get jobs?

As Eric Cooper has rightfully emphasized time and again in this blog, the problem is with the great institutions of American society, beginning with public schools and the lack of excellence in classroom instruction. The schools black children attend are, by and large, simply not good enough. The problem is not that they are segregated, although they are. It’s that the education is inadequate, primarily because the funding that these schools so sorely need lags behind the funding for suburban schools, which are attended, for the most part, by white children.

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