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Denzel Washington is dead wrong about the “bad” black father

12/7/2017, 6 a.m.

Washington, in his rap against black men as fathers, says nothing about the economic devastation that drives many black men from the home or prevents them from being in the home in the first place. These facts have long been out there for all to see. Denzel committed the cardinal error that every critic from the packs of sociologists, family experts, politicians and moral crusaders have made for decades. They conveniently omit the words “some,” “those,” or “the offenders” before black fathers. Instead, they make the assumption, or at least give the impression, that all or most black men aren’t in the home, and are irresponsible.

This condemns black men for the crime-drugs-violence-gross underachievement syndrome that young black males are supposedly eternally locked into. This neatly deflects blame from the gaping racial disparities in employment, health care, education, the criminal justice system, and housing. Meanwhile, elected officials, business leaders and public officials skip away scot-free from responsibility by simply blaming the victim with a vengeance.

Denzel undoubtedly is well intentioned in his criticism of black family problems and certainly doesn’t mean to slander all, or even most black men, as derelict, laggards and slackers as fathers. But the brutal reality is that he’s a famed, lionized actor and his words make instant news. Worse they are taken as fact by hordes of his supporters and admirers. This makes them even more painful because he’s dead wrong.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.