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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  May 10, 2015 12:30am-1:01am EDT

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family structures of the african-american community. and on the nation's justice system.
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[ ♪♪ ] in baltimore it seems every black male you talk to has had some negative interaction with police. >> and just as recently as last night, i was coming from the basketball court at federal hill. i had my shirt off, walking back, and the coppers are trying to get us to fight them, i guess. just because they might shoot us. >> like a day like this i was out on a day like this. me and friends were out, sitting back with a couple of beers -
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which we shouldn't outside, doing it anywhere. they were making it seem like we were worse, and shipped us off to gaol for overnight. >> they pulled me up a couple of times, thought i looked like a criminal apparently. i've been pulled up what's my age, i.d. number. it happened a couple of times. the rate of black incarcerations suggest there's something more going on beyond racial programming. is there a bias in the criminal justice system against black males. >> yes. >> i got together a group of judges attorneys and prosecutors to explain why so many black males are in custody. can you explain it? >> you walk down the street. you see folks on the corner,
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young african-american can i just say "black", if a young black kid walks by someone puts the purse closer to them. if it was three white guys they wouldn't do that the broader point is black neighbourhoods are policed more aggressively. >> police were going into a high black neighbourhood. they talk about the neighbourhood and which people live as if it was the jungle. that is how they talk about where people live. this is where you are. maybe if you went to other neighbourhoods, you'd see the same thing. it's where they know they can get the numbers and find what they are looking for. if you don't look you won't find it. i'm not saying that it's not happening there. but i think it's a bias that we have as society. we have pretty much adopted.
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and rap music, and what people call styled and all this other kind of crazy tattoos and all that stuff doesn't help any. >> i don't agree. i don't think the system is bias. i think there is a community of problems and issues but i think the fact that we have diversity on the bump and judges who are not going to treat the young black man... >> before they get there. >> he asked a question in the criminal justice system. when he says that, he's talking about in my courtroom, my answer is no. i'm thinking of other judges, including you, that thinks it's not bias. >> there are various courtrooms and packed dockets. if you go in there, don't have the right mannerisms or an attorney, you can be caught up and there's plenty of people that didn't do what they were convicted of. >> my thing is the criminal
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justice system doesn't start in the courtroom. that's where i'm talking about there is bias. it starts long before they get to the courtroom. and i think that the black male isn't given the benefit of the doubt. >> what has life been like growing up for you in baltimore? >> it's shaky. with my mum and her habits. she's a recovering addict. 17-year-old darius is an honour student who has never been in trouble with the law. his college fans are in jeopardy after a drug raid on his family home in which he was arrested. facing drug years and gun charges linked to gun paraphernalia that belongs to his mother and a gun belonging to a cousin. he is frustrated because police refused to give him the benefit
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of the doubt. you are going to enter one of the scariest systems on the planet - the american judicial system for a black male. you know that don't you? >> yes so when as you get closer to this when you go to bed at night, i need you to tell me what it is you are considering what you are thinking? what is going through your mind is this. >> my mind is thinking am i really going to get away from this or will i end up like some of my family members that have been locked up. all i do is pray to god they have my back my attorney does and family and friend. i hope the judge will see that i'm innocent you can't can't win. you can't win. you can't argue your point.
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you can't - nothing. any contact with baltimore police you can't win. >> ali doesn't like darius's chances of success in court of he had so little of it himself over the last 20 years, he was convicted of a crime when he was 13 years old. how many times have you had law enforcement contact in your life? >> a lot what is a lot? >> multiple times five times? >> higher. >> 10 times. >> a little more higher you've had more than 10 law enforce. contacts? >> yes 15. >> i know it's more than 10 who do you blame for your 10-plus law enforcement contacts?
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>> i can blame myself for some, and also the whole process of how the city is baltimore. it's just that in baltimore, the plus are always going to look at you different. you are always going to be singled out. i'm not saying it's all police. but we are talking majority of them. it's the whole entire system. the judiciary system in maryland isaac sawyer is 8 years old. already his mother worries he could one day enter that system. >> i used to say that i have my - my - how do i put this? i guess not my biggest fear, but i used to say i'm going to be standing in front of the judge telling him "please don't give my son the death penalty, he's just a product of his
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environment. and he tried and it's hard to think that one day your son is going to be in gaol your son is going to be. but i'm realistic about things. with the way his education is going now, and the way his behaviour is, and like you said baltimore city there is a strong possibility he will be. and it scares me before becoming mayor of baltimore, kurt smoak was a prosecutor and said there is definitely a bias in the federal justice system against the poor. >> the criminal justice system is bias against low income people. that is the issue. to the extent we have more african-american men that are low income, it will have a negative impact. two guys committing a charge
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with the same crime, one who has resources gets out on bail. the other is stuck in the system. one gets a private attorney one gets a public defend,er, no offense. we know that resources make a big difference in the criminal justice system. the system is bias against those that are low income, and that has a terrible impact on the african-american community. >> they are disadvantaged in income, jobs. they are disadvantaged in education. i don't think they are treated in a negative way merely because of that. but it means that we don't have the programs and services and other types of things that are necessary to bring them from that disadvantaged situation to a positive situation. and a lack of fathers in the home negatively impacts black
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males. in 2010, 24% of american families lived in single parent homes. 66% of black children are raised in single parent households. the overwhelming majority of those homes are led by women. darius and isaac are products of single-women households. so am i. so too, is cliff white. how are you doing dude. >> what's going on i do know this face. i do know this face. >> of course i had a moustache in those days riley is an american athlete. his mother raised 10 children. nine of her own as well as two grandchildren. with the help of her mother grandmother. the children have success, and they did it in one of the
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poorest parts of baltimore. >> i would just like them to never have the life - just do better than i did, because, you know, go to college, get a good job. try to - you know take care of your kids. things like that. she says her secret was a strong family unit, stressing the importance of education and discipline how did you do it? >> i had a bell. i knew it was a belt. >> you tapped it. it was a light tap. nothing heavy. >> no. >> no marks. >> no. >> no raised skin. >> my mother is very very polite. very polite to me okay. she said she kind of taps it a little bit. she didn't tap it. okay. she is heavy-handed. okay. and fast. okay. and fast. my older brother and i wept into a five and dime store, and we
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were going to - we stole something. we stole something. i can hear her saying right now - i can't stand a thief and i hate a liar okay. and i mean - and i don't know - i don't know the first grade kindergarten wherever it was. i never stole another thing the rest of my life okay. i remember that to this day, okay i certainly made life difficult for my mother once we moved to a neighbourhood outside of baltimore. i was attending an all-white high school and getting a shot at a better education. feelings of insecurity and defensiveness returned. this time when i acted out. i was tempting serious trouble. >> that's what i did here. i stole records and other small things. i guess because of peer
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pressure. not thinking about the consequences really. you get away with something the first time, and you think you are invincible. that's what i thought at the time, that i was invince ill. i wasn't thinking about the future and what it would mean it changed when i was caught stealing snack food. someone called the principal of my high school who sent the vice principal who literally picked me up and got me back to school. my vice principal at the time mr owens gave me a break. he didn't call the police or kick me out of high school. from that moment on, i stepped close to one of my best friends in high school reggie brooks a star on the football and basketball team. some of his discipline rubbed off on me. today he is the athletic director of a high school outside of baltimore, and is
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still beating me at basketball. new episode the death of aging only on al jazeera america
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single parent households make the role of highly functioning schools essential in the development of black boys. without a father in the home, the work of a single mother is
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often overwhelming. is his father in his life in any significant which? >> no not at all can you put it away? >> no. >> thank you. >> my son asked me about his father. i told myself i would not talk bad about him. you don't know what will happen in the future. when he asks me i say - he's not here if he wanted to be he could be. i'm here. and i leave it at that. but when you take your son to the mall and he stands in front of the wishing well and you give him a dime he looks at the dime and says "i wish my daddy would come see me", broke down crying. couldn't help it. i tear up when i thing about it now. it's terrible. but you can't make a guy be there that doesn't want to be. i'm mummy, i'm daddy. we got uncles.
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so his uncle frank, my brother. he has people who cares about him. i know it hurts him that his father is not there. just like it hurt me growing up when my father wasn't there. hopefully we are enough for him. >> bless our mumies. >> bless our daddies. you want what is best for the kids. you try to give it to them. people don't realise how hard it is. how literally hard it is for you to try to raise a child period. much less by yourself. i think people take it for granted. the time they spend with kids the fact that they can take off and that they - people take a
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lot of stuff for granted. they don't realise. >> a... little... >> i know when a child is willing to work hard when a parent says i'm going to work with my son and gets what he needs, what does he need. i say he needs to read commute respect people keep his room clean. if there's someone in the home helping the child to do the right thing, that child will be okay. he knows that america needs more than just okay to reverse years of academic declines. particularly where african-americans are concerned. >> you'd think there would be outrage from civil rights and political leaders on this issue.
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you would be wrong. >> it's not sustained. it comes in spurts. if there's a crisis, kids that are not doing something, we have a kid getting murdered. i think it's sustained or long turn that can get attention, grab the ear and say this is what we need to do to impact education. >> the level of outrage that we should have coming from many segments of our communities black community, white. it's not there. i think it's for a variety of reasons. there are a lot of success stories out there. that's one thing. >> so help you god. >> so help me god. >> congratulations. >> we had a huge success, symbolic success in having a black person elected president of the united states. and it's hard then to argue to the broader community that black people are not making progress
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the way every other minority group in the country is not making - has made progress in the history of this country. >> until we resolve this issue, which i think is such a civil rights issue, i think it is the civil rights issue, people talk about technology. being a civil rights issue. no when we talk about human being as a class, not having opportunities, having those extinguished early on in elementary school what can we hope for as a nation in terms of our competitiveness? so it's not only the right thing to do it's the smart thing to do. >> yea darius. >> wow. >> dismissed.
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>> yes, baby just a week after meeting him and on one of the most decisive days of his young life, darius gets the kind of break a vice principal gave me. the judge at the hearing on weapons and drugs charges dismissed the case against him. >> the case is dismissed. yea. hopefully i can continue my career in electro technical. >> it's not his fault his mother is a recovering addict. despite the fact i struggled all his life, all his life he triumphs. honestly he got a scholarship. i want him to do something i didn't. hug, hug, hug. darius gets to go to college and pursue his dream of becoming an electrical engineer. but what about isaac sawyer.
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is isaac going to be okay? >> i know he is because i'm going to make sure he is okay. when i was younger, rite before i had isaac, i was a little hood rat. i was a little hood rat running the street. isaac is the best thing that ever happened to me. it made me calm down because i knew at the end of the day if no one else needed me, loved me he did. and it changed everything and made me calm down. get a job. be normal. what is clear to me is this - if the idea of american exceptionalism is to be more than a slogan. education has to lead the way. and no child can be left behind. the minimum non-negotiable has to be that every black boy in america read at great level and
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attend some college. surely setting reading and college as non-negotiationables for black boys can't be that difficult for a race that achieved so much in america, while overcoming so much. [ singing ] so the question - do i believe we'll solve the problem of black males? we have no choice we have no choice. we have to. they are americans. what makes america special, is when we had problems in the past and problems that seem insurmountable. we couldn't get the country to talk about slavery, for a long time we couldn't talk about it. we went to war within ourselves because of those issues and yet we came to grips. you and i could not have imagined being in our positions. when we were children, we could not have imagined being on major television, or being the president of a university, and, yet, that is how far this country has come.
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what made the difference? education. education transforms lives much education transforms lives. yes, it can. for eddy. darius. steven. and isaac. and, yes it has for this black boy from a single parent household and humble beginnings from baltimore maryland.
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>> 50 and broke. i live with the consequences every day. >> harsh realities. >> i did two tours in iraq, when i came back i couldn't find a job. >> fighting to survive. >> bein' a man and can't put my family in a home that they deserve... that's a problem for me. >> hard earned pride. hard earned respect. hard earned future. a real look at the american dream. "hard earned". tomorrow, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> part of our month long look at working in america. "hard earned". >> on al jazeera america >>'s a vital part of who we are... >>they had some dynamic fire behavior... >> and what we do... don't try this at home! >> tech know where technology meets humanity... only on al jazeera america >> weeknights on al jazeera america. >> join me as we bring you an in-depth look at the most important issues of the day. breaking it down. getting you the facts. it's the only place
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you'll find... the inside story. >> ray suarez hosts "inside story". weeknights, 11:30 eastern. on al jazeera america. a top you will n. official says airstrikes in yell men are breaking international humanitarian law. hello, world news. also ahead gunfire and police officers are killed, by groups set to be planning attacks. columbia suspends the use of a herb what side, linked to cancer. and the traditional