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"The recognition of the problem of black males should not be interpreted to mean that there is no problem for black females." says C. Eric Lincoln of Duke University. "Black females are obviously at risk. Black males are at higher risk."The fact that black males are at such high risk threatens the longevity of the black community, Dr. Lincoln says. The black middle class is dwindling rather than growing because there is no successor generation firmly in place, he says. "We have a tremendous imbalance of - let's call them normative' black women, but even they find themselves in relative jeopardy because they find it increasingly difficult to find any normative black men to marry," he says. As a professor of religion and culture at Duke, Lincoln sees black women graduate with "immaculate credentials," yet they often find themselves caught between worlds. Today's bright young black women have no difficulty with their white peers in the cities, particularly cities on the East and West coasts. But, says Lincoln, "they are told usually quite bluntly - if not bluntly, then by innuendo: 'OK, we've had the same kind of education, gone to the same schools, and we are willing to accept you as one of us. But don't bug us about the problems you left behind, where you came from. We didn't make the problems, we don't want to solve the problems, we can't solve the pro blems, and we don't want to be bothered with them. You are now in Rome, so long as you do what the Romans do.... "Their parents don't understand them, and they are a little bit impatient with the parents, too," Lincoln continues. "Their old friends, of course, are nowhere in sight and they don't go to look for them.... "They are in limbo. You can't go home again, but when you get home, you're not at home; when you're away from home, you're still not at home."

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