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State of Black children dismal at best

Rhonda Crowder | 2/28/2014, 3:22 p.m.
According to the report, the number of Black children in poverty has been holding steady for over the last decade ...
Marian Wright Edelman

During a recent, exclusive interview with Civil Rights Activist Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, she discussed the findings of a recent study, “The State of Black Children in America.”

According to the report, the number of Black children in poverty has been holding steady for over the last decade at 10 to 11 million. Unfortunately, the same children haven’t fared that well in society. They are the poorest children in America.

“We are not in a very good place,” she said. “We got a lot of Black children who have done well and we've created a new Black middle class over the last fifty years and there’s been lots of progress. We have Black elected officials and all of those things, but Black children are deep trouble and the Black community and the country better wake up because they are sliding backwards on our watch.”

Edelman said 80 percent of Black children can’t read at grade level in 4th or 8th grade, or compute. Too many are not ready for school, she said.

“Many of our children are coming to school not knowing their real names as oppose to their nicknames, the alphabet, colors… the most basic things.”

Edelman went on to say that an early childhood foundation is very important for preparing children for school. She also said that we are in deep trouble when one of three black boys born in 2011 will go to prison. She said we need to break up the cradle to prison pipeline and replace it with graduating from high school and going to college.”

“This cradle to prison pipeline is becoming the new America apartheid,” aid Edelman. “Our black boys are in trouble and our black girls are a part of the process as well.”

When asked what happened and how we got to the point, Edelman explained that there is a pervasive ignoring of the depth of our problem in our community. The Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit child advocacy organization, have been trying to send out a message that the country is in trouble because all of the two year olds now are of color – Black and Latino – and disproportionately poor, not ready for school and unable to graduate from school.

“It’s time for all of us to think about how we’re going to reweave the fabric of family, reweave the fabric of community, and save our children because no one is going to love our children the way Black folk do,” said Edelman. If we do nothing, she said, “Our children are going to continue to be fodder for the prison industrial complex.”

Edelman criticized the churches for not doing enough, said they are not competing with the gangs and drug dealers. She also criticized us as a community for being more focused on material things than ensuring that all of our children are prepared for the future.

She said it’s time for us to wake up.

“I hope we are able to get all of our Black networks who have all of these connections and all of these resources to focus in on our children. To use our clout, our money, and our voices and our votes to make sure Black children are at the top of the agenda,” said Edelman.