A caller to the Feb. 21 radio talk show "The Valley's Talkin' with Doc and Bert" on 1330 WGFT accused this writer of being a racist because of comments made during a discussion about juvenile delinquency with Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick.
Such an accusation has the effect of silencing honest and open discussion of issues relating to race. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had it right when he said that we are a nation of cowards when it comes to dealing with this highly emotional topic. But what Holder should have made clear is that the cowardice (or some less offensive word) is the result of people not wanting to be labeled negatively.
But it is not racist to point out, for example, that black-on-black crime in the city of Youngstown is destroying the fabric of the community. Nor is it racist to note that the absence of a father and mother in many black homes in the Mahoning Valley is a major contributing factor to the juvenile delinquency problem and the failing school system.
There certainly is nothing wrong in observing that white flight from cities like Youngstown is the result of declining property values, growing black populations, crime, deteriorating neighborhoods and inadequate public education.
This writer has long advocated a boarding school for at-risk inner city children because the absence of family life in many homes is stunting the intellectual and social growth of black young people in Youngstown. Drastic measures are needed, which is why Judge Dellick's latest inititative deserves the full support of the community.
She is proposing to start a residential program for some of the children who are enrolled in a school that has been created by the court. These children were on the verge of being expelled from their regular schools and/or had been in trouble with the law.
Judge Dellick intends to start small, but knows that the demand is great. The fact that the young people in the school are already showing signs of turning their lives around is encouraging her to move forward boldly.
That is why an honest, open discussion about what is happening in the black community — and the reaction of many whites, both in the city and the suburbs — is essential.
It is not racist to speak the truth.