Securing our neighborhoods

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Once again we have been visited with another unfortunate and unnecessary death in our neighborhood involving a young individual shot down in the summertime of life. While our prayers are with the family, many are stunned and asking “when is this madness going to stop or wane?” When are we collectively going to say enough is enough and make a collaborated effort of all parties involved to truly address and end this premature loss of life? We cannot continue to hold candlelight ceremonies memorializing the victim and praying for the victim’s families. We must take action and truly declare war on the mentality and circumstances that make this senseless practice commonplace.

We must realistically tackle the numerous factors contributing to this blatant and shameful onslaught of life. We cannot become desensitized and feel it is okay and there is nothing we can do to stop this senseless taking of life. We must meet as a unified community and construct concrete realistic measures to safeguard our children from harm’s way. We must address economic and social conditions that play a role in how some of the children are raised and how we can work harder to remedy these social and economical ills leading our children to gravitate to drugs and gangs. Many parents barely make a living wage and are relegated to working two or more jobs to make a living, often leaving their children to spend a great deal of their time alone. As a result, you find many children literally raising themselves—especially young men being raised by a single mother with little or no father present in their upbringing.

The violence and life style promoted by many TV shows and movies generates a negative message   that subliminally supports negative lifestyles and choices. We as a Black community must do more to hold the media more accountable in presenting positive examples and depictions of Black culture. We must address Blacks who are more visible in directing and presenting movies about Blacks and make sure there is an equal representation of Blacks in movies, portraying positive and productive roles.

You will find a multitude of children looking to each other for the love and security they are not receiving at home. They gravitate toward groups or gangs to provide instruction and love as well as protection. This is the protection, security, instruction, and love that should be coming from the family if the family were intact.

Be it as it may, we all know that the Black family as we once knew it has been disassembled. Some of the participants in perpetrating this escalating violence have been those failed by the public education system, choosing to sell drugs to make a living. Drugs and gang-affiliated activities have been the catalyst for the majority of these senseless deaths. Many of our children are misguided, lacking suitable recreational facilities, and supervision. Adults seem to be afraid to address another person’s child when they misbehave for fear of repercussions from young parents (often teenage mothers lacking proper parenting skills). Pointing the blame can go on and on and there are plenty factors to address. But action is needed to correct this travesty.

However, the African American community must come to the realization that no one is going to save our children unless we advocate in their best interest. We must rally for better jobs and job training opportunities for Blacks in economically disadvantaged communities, affordable housing in middle class neighborhoods, a more accountable public school system, more churches and community parks offering recreation and supervision for our children, individual tutoring by fraternities, sororities and social groups, and forums and workshops on parenting for young parents. Churches should extend their outreach programs to involve children in the communities where they are located and not to just children in their congregations. Neighborhoods need to address the problems of illicit activities.

This ‘snitch practice,’ prevalent in the Black community, has become a thorn in our heel, often preventing healing and keeping justice from prevailing.

We have children as well as adults shielding and complicit with juveniles who need help. They should be brought to justice to account for their crimes. It is my opinion that most people want to live in a safe, nice and crime free neighborhood.

This rising trend of crime, burglary, murder and assault can be curtailed. Can we honestly say we are doing everything possible to make this happen?