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Princeton Researchers Forget Responsibility

In America, black men are becoming more estranged from the labor force and mainstream society.

At least that’s what researchers at Princeton and peer institutions would have you believe from an article published in the Daily Princetonian.

“We thought that the economic expansion at the end of the ’90s produced better opportunities for young black men without higher education. But if you count the population in jail, this conclusion is incorrect,” said Bruce Western, a Princeton sociology professor.

According to the article, Western claims that employment rates have been “overestimated” because they typically don’t account for those in jail. “The penal system really cemented the disadvantage of poorly-educated black men and ruled out their mobility into the mainstream of American society,” Western tells the Daily.

And who’s to blame for this?

“The man” of course!

Western “places much of the responsibility for this phenomenon on policymakers who, ‘in an effort to get tough on crime,’ have advocated stiffer penalties and lengthier prison sentences,” writes the Daily.

That’s right, let’s blame the law and not the law-breakers.

Oh wait … this absurdity gets better.

Harvard education expert Gary Orfield is also cited within the article. According to the Daily, he believes, “Failing educational institutions have also contributed to the plight of young black men, with more than half of all African-American men in inner cities across the country failing to finish high school.” Orfield goes on to criticize the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act.

Again, it’s not the student’s fault for failing to finish school. The educational system is to blame.

Meanwhile, the Daily notes another Princeton sociology professor, Devah Pager, who “found strong evidence indicating racial discrimination in the hiring process.”

One more time — it’s not the applicant’s fault. It’s the racist employer’s fault.

Finally, the article ends with the following statement and quote:

“The first step in addressing these problems, though, is convincing the public that black plight has reached alarming depths. ‘Suburban America has no idea about this crisis,’ Orfield said. ‘But we are all going to pay for it in the end.’”

No. The first step in addressing these problems is to take responsibility. If your life is more difficult because you spent time in the slammer, tough luck! Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Consequently, that puts more responsibility on parents. Children certainly don’t come with instruction manuals, but they don’t come pre-programmed either. Kids need to be taught the difference between right and wrong, and parents need to take an active role in their children’s’ lives.

I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that a foreigner can come to America without even knowing the language and within a generation or two, his/her family is among the most successful.

It’s not about race. It’s not about hardships or insurmountable odds. No. It’s about taking responsibility and then taking action.

It only becomes about race, ethnicity or gender when it’s convenient. Studies that show “it’s a black” thing or “a female” thing are misleading. I know a number of blacks and women who don’t fall within a particular study’s “findings.” And why is that? Because these people aren’t “people” — they’re individual men and women who make choices and take responsibility. They don’t allow a group to define them. They define themselves.

Studies like the one cited in the Daily Princetonian only give excuses to those who want to be seen as a group and not as individuals.

Sociology is interesting. It has its merits. But, it doesn’t make me and it shouldn’t make you.

Written By

Mr. Flickinger is the "dean" of Human Events U and founder of the Network of Campus Conservatives. He is a native of Pittsburgh, who graduated from Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism with specializations in political science and economics.

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