LIMA — A conversation has started to discuss what is happening with black males in Lima.
The grassroots effort called the Black Male Project was organized by Bill Long, who has been in prison himself and has seen the plight of black males.
“I feel the need to do this. As a concerned resident of Lima I was concerned about the killing of black males in Lima and it started from a Facebook post and I wanted to try and help do something to stem all of this,” said Long.
A panel discussion involving clergy, parents, police, coaches and the general public was held Saturday at the Bradfield Community Center.
The reasons for the perceived problem are many and no one person had a solution to the problem.
Unfortunately, there were very few young black men at the discussion and thus no input from them on what they think are the root causes of the problem.
Information presented in the discussion included some recent research from the U.S. Census Bureau that shows black boys grew up to earn substantially less than white boys, even when they grow up in families with comparable household incomes. The research also found that 21 percent of the black boys raised in the poorest households became incarcerated, that black boys raised in households with the top 1 percent of household income were as likely to be incarcerated as white boys raised in households earning about $36,000, and within low-poverty areas, black-white disparities were smallest in places with low levels of racial bias among white and high rates of father presence among blacks.
Many blame parents for not doing their job, specifically fathers, while others blame the educational system that, in many cases, passes these kids along.
Lima Senior basketball coach Quincey Simpson recounted a boy who is now a junior at Lima Senior who can’t read and who is in a class for kids with bad behaviors.
Simpson spends time with him and works with him on his reading.
“It was so bad, the first we did it I had to stop and leave and go to the bathroom because I couldn’t stop crying. It was that bad. So I’m asking him how you get to the 10th grade,” said Simpson. He told Simpson that they just kept on passing him through. “He’s a junior now, can’t fill out an application. Where are you going to be in two years? He gonna be in prison. He gonna be incarcerated because he’s going to commit a crime. Sooner or later, his mom is not going to keep taking care of him, and that’s just only one case. People from the outside that don’t understand the dynamics that go on at Lima Senior within the Lima City Schools have no clue. They see those test scores. Because for every kid male or female with those scores, I can give you a kid that’s super-successful that came from Lima City Schools,” said Simpson.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.