As a 59-year-old Black Man who grew up in the Ida B. Wells projects in the City of Chicago in the 60s and the 70s, I am totally frustrated with the lack of accountability that we as Black people take for our violence-filled and mired-in-poverty conditions! I’m Just Saying that when our young people drop out of school at alarming rates and continually put themselves at risk to be arrested and incarcerated, and Black leaders and activists fail to accurately articulate the problem and effectuate relevant solutions, I get frustrated! My public housing upbringing as the oldest of four in a one-parent household (my mom was on public assistance and my father was incarcerated) and proclivity to smoke Bud did not prevent me from securing my Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication at Eastern Illinois University in 1978 and my Masters in Psych from Chicago State in 1980. That said, I am not about to give anyone reading this the “Pull Yourself Up by Your Boots” speech, but I do want to outline how the inner city Black communities evolved into their current chaotic states and what we as a people must do to remedy our collective affairs.
While it is truly sad that young blacks prey on each other, adults and seniors in their communities, it is clear that those phenomena have been masterfully orchestrated by social policy and procedures crafted by others. The social fabric of mostly Black and Brown inner city neighborhoods has been devastated. The quadrupling of the incarceration rate in America since 1970 has had diabolical collateral consequences. In that span of time, Blacks have been imprisoned at six times the rate of whites and three times the rate of Hispanics. The results of that data are compelling: Millions of young Black and Brown children have been orphaned…Children are raising Children without the moral direction to differentiate from right or wrong as survival by any means necessary turns neighbor and one’s own family against each other…Sub-cultures of “Don’t Be A Snitch” and “Mind Your Own Business” has allowed Drug Dealers, Gangbangers and blatant Criminal Actors to run free and rampant with little fear of community or police interventions! Add to these facts that the Federal and State politicians who orchestrated and voted to craft a War on Drugs, whch is really a War on Drug Addicts, are making their Donor-friendly supporters richer by the day as prison services are being outsourced to private industry…I’m just Saying!!!
If we are to believe Douglas S. Massey (Getting Away with Murder: Segregation and Violent Crime in Urban America), high rates of Black crime continue to exist because Blacks live in highly segregated and severely impoverished neighborhoods. I would add that statistics show that crime rates from two decades ago until now reveal that crime is going down. However, the crimes that are being committed are more likely to involve guns and most likely being committed by a child. Crime appears, and most certainly is, senseless, because deadly, cannot-take-it-back acts are carried out by persons too young to know and realize the implications of their decisions! Altercations that happened back in my day in the projects ended in fisticuffs; now they end in corpses! The revenge quotient and increased ability to render mass shootings with automatic weapons like the AK-47 (which have the potential to fire 5-, 10-, 20- and 40-round box mags and 75- and 100- round drum mags) has intensified the need for real and immediate solutions! So what am I saying and where am I going with all this? Tune in tomorrow for Part 2…I’m Just Saying.
Opinion by James Cannon
Image Courtesy of Zo187’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License