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Don’t Give Up On MLK’s Dream

Dear Editor 

I was disheartened to read Ilyasha Shiver’s column last week.  In the “Dream” speech Ilyasha referenced, Dr. King said, “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” Our country can’t afford to have good young men and fathers like Ilyasha giving up on that belief.  

Unfortunately, so much of the racial narrative we read about is driven by people who profit from the racial divide.  Given his statement that “white police officers are murdering unarmed black men across the country,” I fear that Ilyasha has fallen victim to that narrative. 

Recent tragedies not withstanding, police officers –black and white– kill a disproportionately high number of black men primarily because a disproportionately high number of black men commit felonies. Why is that? Because black families are disproportionately trapped in pervasive poverty, especially in the inner city.  Lack of economic opportunity is a major root cause. 

Don’t take my word for it.  According to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “Felony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA. It is the most difficult and searing problem in this whole mess.”   

Which brings us back to Dr. King.  America is the land of opportunity.  Nearly one million people come here legally each year to pursue the American dream.  Sadly, it is easier for these foreigners to access our “great vaults of opportunity” than it is for citizens from the inner cities (and other places with pervasive poverty).  This is an American problem, not just a black one. 

Like any significant problem, it can neither be solved by pandering to fears nor dividing our citizenry with lies and half-truths.  We must overcome the difficult root causes together.  Please do not give up or give in, Ilyasha. 

Paul King