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A legal absurdity

10/4/2011, 2:21 p.m.
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A legal absurdity

EDITOR’S NOTE:
The NAACP views childhood obesity as a civil rights issue.

“We will just go on ‘till they solve that civil rights issue.”

During the Jim Crow era, it was not unusual for African Americans to attribute even the slightest inconvenience to civil rights violations. Racial discrimination was once so pervasive that there was some rationale for that mindset. Blacks were denied access to places of public accommodation and only the menial jobs were available. Those eager for self improvement, especially in the South, were excluded from admission to colleges and universities.

Discrimination did not end there. Blacks were forced to live in racially restricted areas. The red lining policies of banks prevented blacks from acquiring mortgages outside those specified areas. Blacks who had the misfortune to come before the courts had little expectation that justice would be done. The lives of African Americans were circumscribed by a legally enforced pattern of restrictions designed to impose inferior status.

African Americans struggled for generations to establish laws that would end discriminatory practices and provide opportunities that had previously been denied them. Many people lost their lives by opposing racial oppression, and many others were denied benefits which they were due because they had the courage to stand up in opposition to abuse. The battle for civil rights was won, and has become a highly regarded aspect of black history.

Now the NAACP demeans that history in its campaign to ameliorate childhood obesity. A press release asserts that “the NAACP views childhood obesity as a civil rights issue.” The organization claims that greater childhood obesity exists among blacks because “… children of color are more likely to live in poor, unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity, higher exposures to harmful environmental factors, and limited access to healthy food options.”

Regardless of the external circumstances, obesity results from an improper diet — eating fatty or fried foods and imbibing sugary drinks. There is no other cause. Every individual must assume personal responsibility for what he eats. No excuses. The NAACP suggests that blacks who have been victimized by so much in American society are now the victims of fried chicken.

Leaders must inspire blacks to take control of their lives. It is not beneficial to help them find an easy way out.


Outstanding results

Even before Emancipation, African Americans believed that education was the road up. No one believed it was an easy road. There were too many examples of black college graduates being forced to accept menial employment. Yet, the only option was to persevere.

There are so many stories of the current racial disparity in academic achievement that news of outstanding success is very encouraging. The Edward W. Brooke Charter School 8th grade students scored a dazzling performance on the recent MCAS tests. They are No. 1 in the state. Every one of them was advanced or proficient in English and Math. The 7th graders were almost as strong. They scored 100 percent in English and 96 percent on the Math test. That still placed them substantially higher than the percentage of students across the state who scored advanced or proficient.

Almost all Brooke students are black or Latino (98 percent) and 78 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunch. They were selected at random from those who applied for admission. Clearly, the Brooke and some other charter schools have found the key to academic success. These methods must be more generally applied in other public schools.