Actor Denzel Washington stressed the prison system was not to blame for crime in black communities, stressing the importance of properly raising children at home, during his tour promoting his new movie at an advanced screening last week.
“It starts in the home,” the two-time Oscar-winner told The Grio. “If the father is not in the home, the boy will find a father in the streets. I saw it in my generation and every generation before me, and every one since.”
“If the streets raise you, then the judge becomes your mother and prison becomes your home,” 62-year-old Washington added.
In his new movie, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” Washington plays a criminal defense lawyer who works to address social injustice.
Elaborating on what he meant to The New York Daily News, Washington said that positive changes for the black community begins with how children are raised.
“It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure,” the actor said.
“So you know I can’t blame the system,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.”
The famed actor said he became optimistic about change by young people in the 1990s.
“I remember when I was doing the movie ‘Malcolm X,’ and we were doing a speech up at Columbia, we had a bunch of students from Columbia University,” Washington told The Grio. “In between takes, we were talking about things and how tough the world is, and I was like, ‘With everything we’re talking about, does it make you want to give up?’”
And they’re like, “Oh, no no, we’re gonna change it,” Washington said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m the cynic.’“
“So I pray that young people never lose that fire, I don’t think they will. And needless to say there’s a lot for them to work on,” he added.