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Possible Solutions for a Culture at Risk

Regarding the article "Scholar Sees a Culture at Risk," Nov. 5: Since the days of slavery, United States laws have effectively broken up the black family and caused black men to become like drones.The welfare system has made it possible for women to have children and be supported without being married, and has even inadvertently encouraged husbands to leave so their families will be eligible for government aid. In many cases, men have become unnecessary and ultimately irresponsible. Youngsters who grow up in homes without a father or stable father-figure - often raised by teenagers with little education, let alone wisdom - hardly have a chance. They often lack the motivation to learn, so they drop out of school. Frequently, after struggling to find decent-paying jobs, they end up on welfare. Often they become involved in crime and go to jail. Welfare laws must be reformed to be a safety net for the truly needy without fostering dependence on the government or breaking up the family. Any laws that make it more convenient to get along without the father must be changed to include him. Joan Greig, Aurora, Ohio

Education is the key! Educate black youths on self-esteem. Let them know about their opportunities, not about how poor they are. Let them know they can accomplish anything anyone else from any other race can. Naomi Ino, Santa Clara, Calif.

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The article makes me wonder why black Muslims are more effective at reaching black youths who have been through the criminalization process. Certainly it's not that Muslim values are intrinsically more pertinent than Christian values. The disparity must stem from approach. Can the Christian community can summon the courage to look at the problem in an objective manner? We could inculcate Christian values into the milieu of disadvantaged black youth, while at the same time keeping "church" out of the equation. Is it wrong to save lives by leading youth toward Christian love, while leading them away from the "churchification" that turns them off? Fred Wollam, San Jose, Calif.

Duke University Professor of Religion and Culture C. Eric Lincoln seems to be saying that it is the responsibility of other Americans to rescue the "lost generation" of black youth. After working with Planned Parenthood for 30 years, I feel the overall situation will not change much as long as there are so many young black females becoming mothers and being forced to drop out of school as a result. Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood, says that blacks have become "reproductive victims" like people in the third world. Because the whole area of reproductive behavior can be a minefield, the tendency is to avoid talking about it and continue proposing the same old, ineffective programs. Until the fateful cycle of "children having children" is broken, nothing will work. Charles R. Ross, Corvallis, Ore.

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