Lewis Diuguid

Trayvon Martin’s dad joins others seeking better prospects for black boys and men

People should feel encouraged that Trayvon Martin’s dad has joined efforts to improve the education, employment opportunities and living conditions for black boys and men.

Tracy Martin spoke Wednesday at a congressional hearing on issues facing black boys and men organized by Democratic Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia and Danny Davis of Illinois. Trayvon Martin, 17, was gunned down in February 2012 in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, 29, who viewed the unarmed black youth as a suspect when Trayvon had only gone to the store to get Skittles and an ice tea drink.

Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in the case that brought to light the “Stand Your Ground” gun law in Florida and many other states, which enable people who fear for their safety to use deadly force against someone.

Tracy Martin is right to speak out against what happened to his son, and others should, too. Republicans should join Democrats in tackling this American problem.

People everywhere should urge lawmakers and the community to do more to lift African American’s males’ image from suspects to prospects. Unfortunately reality is a far cry from that for black males.

Black males are incarcerated at a rate that’s more than nine times higher than white males ages 18 to 19, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The unemployment rate for younger black males is more than twice the national rate.

High school graduation rates for black males barely top 50 percent compared with 78 percent for non-Latino males, a 2012 report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education says.

A report just released by the Foundation for Child Development also showed that black and Latino children were most at risk of growing up in poverty or near poverty, of living in families with low median incomes, had a high risk for child mortality (ages 1to 19) and were least likely to have good or excellent health. Educationally, they had critically low rates of reading and math proficiency, according to the report, “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity and Immigration in America’s Non-Majority Generation.

The report points out that by 2018, fewer than half of the children in the United States will be white, and by 2043 white people no longer will be the majority in America. It is imperative that the country act to create a more positive and productive future for children of color so that they don’t end up as negative statistics like Trayvon Martin.

The Foundation for Child Development report recommends that the country expand access to and enhance early childhood education, remove barriers to health insurance so that all children are covered and provide families with ways to improve their economic security and future prospects. These are some of the same things that President Barack Obama is pushing to ensure America’s global competitiveness now and in the future.

He just has to get the Republicans in Congress and many recalcitrant GOP dominated state legislatures like those in Missouri and Kansas to go along.