Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter spoke strong words about personal responsibility last week.
"We have a situation in this country where people aren't taking care of their kids," Carter told the Lake County Advancement Committee on Friday.
Carter, like fellow African-American Bill Cosby, is in a good position to lecture black males about the need to be involved in their families.
When Carter is in the courtroom for something like a gang shooting case, he said, he often sees two or three generations of African-American women in the audience, sometimes with small children, because a black male got in trouble with the law.
The surprise isn't the color of the audience. Blacks are 24 percent of Lake County's population but 70 percent of the perpetrators hauled into court. What's missing in the audience are black males. Where are the black fathers when someone gets in trouble?
The nation's social and moral fabric is unraveling, Carter said. I won't disagree with that assessment.
But this problem isn't exclusive to African-Americans. It's prevalent among whites, too.
Fathers need to be more involved in their children's lives. Too often, that isn't happening.
"That's the problem in our inner cities," Carter said. "That's the problem with our kids killing each other."
Carter knows what the inner city is like. "I grew up on Guthrie Street" in East Chicago, Carter said. That street is now one of the most dangerous in Northwest Indiana.
"I had a nephew beaten to death on Guthrie Street," Carter said. "I warned him. Next thing I knew, three people beat him to death."
Because the witness to that murder wasn't reliable, the special prosecutor couldn't bring charges against those three attackers.
Carter lives in a gated subdivision now, but he still walks his children to the bus stop and waits to make sure they get safely on the school bus before he leaves for work each day.
He has older children as well and has told them to take steps to make sure they don't have children until they're 30. "When you're 30 years old, your thinking is a lot different from when you're 20," he said.
"I don't want them to have this baby mama drama."
Everyone should hear Carter's talk on personal responsibility. The trouble is, the ones who need it the most are probably too irresponsible to listen.
Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/DougRossNWI and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.