Vail Daily column: How best to help? |

Vail Daily column: How best to help?

Butch Mazzuca
Butch Mazzuca |

A Gallup poll taken the day after Barack Obama secured the presidency in 2008 indicated 70 percent of Americans believed race relations would improve under the new administration (you can count me among those 70 percent). But today, fewer than 18 percent of Americans believe race relations have improved regardless of the president’s exhortations to the contrary.

It’s unfair to link the state of race relations to the president, but the string of racially dividing comments he’s made since taking office hasn’t helped. Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama accused police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of acting “stupidly” for arresting a prominent black Harvard professor (this before he knew the facts), a comment that encouraged racial hostilities. Likewise, comments such as “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” have served only to exacerbate racial tensions.

More recently, after the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case, the president told us it was an “understandable reaction” to be angry with the decision, in effect, giving cover to the protesters who looted and destroyed private property. Did Mr. Obama forget the Constitution provides for a legal process and that the police, the county, the city and the prosecutors’ office all abided that process?

The cold-blooded murder of two New York City policemen and the numerous attacks on police across this nation should serve as a wake-up call. But what should disturb Americans even more is the alliance the president has formed with the likes of Al Sharpton, who as Thomas Sowell said, “ … is a demagogue with a trail of slime going back more than a quarter of a century, during which he has whipped up mobs and fomented race hatred from the days of the Tawana Brawley ‘rape’ hoax of 1987 to the Duke University ‘rape’ hoax of 2006 and the Ferguson riots of 2014.”

So the question becomes, “Where is the black leadership to help lead these young people out of this vicious cycle?”

Nonetheless, Sharpton has been invited to the White House on at least 80 occasions and leads the president’s task force on race relations. Not to be overly facetious, but why not invite that beacon of racial harmony Rev. Jeremiah Wright, too?

There are countless facets to the racial issues in America, but as Jason Riley, a black columnist for the Wall Street Journal, opined, the one thing we know for certain is when the likes of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson inject themselves into racially contentious situations, people tend to get killed, whether it’s Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Freddie’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, the destruction following the Ferguson shootings and most recently the murder of two New York City police officers.

As difficult as it may be for black leaders to admit, here are three unfortunate realities: One, black men commit murders at 10 times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined; Two, 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock; and, three, blacks have the lowest high school graduation rate of any demographic in the country.

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue with conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s position that the reason for the poverty and attendant chaos in many black precincts is the disintegration of the African American family, which along with the lack of positive male role models and adult supervision result in resentment and behavioral issues among young black men.

No one forces young black men to pull the trigger, no one forces 16-year-old black girls to bear children before they’re married, nor does anyone force blacks kids to drop out of high school; each is a personal choice — choices that lead to more poverty and more aberrant behaviors.

Within this milieu of chaos, it’s little wonder black youngsters reject education and authority and gravitate toward a street culture of drugs, gangs and crime. But again let’s be clear — these are personal choices. So the question becomes, “Where is the black leadership to help lead these young people out of this vicious cycle?”

Wouldn’t it be beneficial if the president, Al Sharpton or the Congressional Black Caucus made a public service announcement advising young black girls not to have babies before they are married or encouraging young black men to stay in school?

The solution to the race issue in America is beyond my ken, but I will offer a suggestion to the president and his coterie. Mr. President, if you truly want to help the black community and leave a legacy the nation and world will admire and respect, then stop pandering to pre-conceived biases and begin making a concerted effort to change the paradigm.

Statistics have shown conclusively that irrespective of race, finishing high school, marrying before having children and not from having a child until at least 20 years of age reduces the chances of living in poverty by an astounding 90 percent.

If only the president would focus on that message instead of telling us, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon,” it would go a long way toward ameliorating the race issue in America.

Quote of the day: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” — Loa Tzu.

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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