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Research shows that racial disparities in violent crime disappear when you control for joblessness. Unemployed men of all races are equally likely to be violent, particularly if they are chronically without work. But rather than viewing high levels of violent crime in ghettoized communities as a symptom of the deeper economic and social ills, black men and boys are viewed as the problem itself and treated accordingly. Jobs are promised but almost never delivered, and schools are allowed to fail as ever bigger prisons are built to manage "the problem."
Trayvon Martin will not be the last black boy who dies or goes to jail or gives up on his life because he was viewed and treated as nothing but a problem. We are all guilty of being too quiet for too long. Let it be said hereafter that we were quiet no more.
Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness