DuBois was, among other things, a great American, a suffragist, a sociologist, and a Harvard grad. Had his groundbreaking The Philadelphia Negro been written today, I can only wonder if it would have been called, DuBois in the Hood.
In contrast to the Talented Tenth, he wrote:
At the bottom, of course, quibbles the mole with his eyes in the earth. Aye! truly at the bottom, at the very bottom; at the bottom of knowledge, down in the very depth of knowledge there where the roots of justice strike into the lowest soil of Truth.This came to mind after reading that 1 in 10 criminal youths in Illinois are held longer than their sentence because they have no place to go.
Notes in the records tell sad stories. "Youth has no family that will take him," reads the comment in the case of one downstate boy who was sent to prison for aggravated robbery and was still there two months beyond his scheduled release.It's sad (though sometimes perfectly understandable) that nobody, not even parents, wants responsibility for some of these kids. I know that no person should be thrown away at such a young age. But I also have no illusions that all people, just because they're younger than eighteen, are angels that can be redeemed. I arrested of few pretty bad youngsters myself.
"Placement denied 5X w/relatives," reads the status report on another case.
"Aunt denied by parole. Uncle has refused. Working on other (extended) family," one document reads.
In another case, in which a 20-year-old was more than a year past his ARD, the comment reads: "Youth had approved parole site; mother had change of heart, site denied. Mother seeking other resources."
Sometimes they had no home to go to (in which case I did have some sympathy for the kid... I mean, given the choice between living in a f*cked up "home" like the ones I saw or slinging on the corner, I know what I would choose).
Certainly the problems in part--sometimes a small part and sometimes a large part--rest with the parents (or lack thereof). But placing blame isn't always enough. And some times the family was, if anything, too tough and strict--though who am I to cast doubt? If you raise three good kids and fourth is a f*ck-up... I don't know, maybe you've done a good job. What are the odds we expect in neighborhoods where most boys end up doing time?
DuBois had an answer: education. It's a good one. But in the shorter term, what is the answer?