This post is by Therapist1. I’ll be honest, I would have phrased things a bit differently, but that said, the issues raised are worth discussing.
For those of you who believe that it is taboo or un-PC to discuss matters of race in a frank open and honest manner, do not read further. What I am about to say may infuriate you and there is no need going on if you do not wish to anger yourselves.
First a little history about the writer: I am a white male in my early thirties and a life long Washingtonian. I have lived my entire life in a section of this area which is predominantly middle class to upper middle class African-American. I have seen many of the changes that have occurred through out this area. I saw the “white flight” of the 70’s and early 80’s, and was subsequently bussed to different school districts from 8th grade onward to “get a better education” and to integrate certain schools. My schools were 80% African-American or higher and I am currently one of 3 white families on my street of 22 homes. As I said earlier, this area is predominantly middle class to upper middle class African-American home owners living within one mile of the capital beltway.
However, the vast majority of murders in the state occurred in one of two places, Baltimore City or Prince George’s County. Almost all of these involve black males killing black males, and nation wide this is an epidemic! Homicide is the number one killer of black males ages 15-24. 1 in 30 will die by homicide. In an area that is predominantly middle class to upper middle class, the next logical question is; Why?
It appears that even when you are a multimillionaire rap star like Tupak Shakur or a well educated football player like Sean Taylor, it does not take you outside these statistics. Some may point to gun control as the necessary remedy, but that will not solve the core issue of the willingness of African American males to kill each other. This is something that the African American community must take a hard look at, for their men are becoming an endangered species. When certain celebrities like Bill Cosby try and address the issues they are shouted down by the black establishment of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who quickly point to the history of African-American peoples in the U.S.A. This is interesting because it does not explain the disparity between African-American females and males. What it does is create and perpetuate a litany of excuses and removes control from the only people who can change this phenomenon, African-Americans themselves.
As I said earlier, my schools were majority African-American and I heard those African-Americans that were aspiring to greater educational heights chided for “talking white”, being an “Oreo”, and trying to “be white” or they had to “be hard”. More often than naught, I witnessed my middle class friends engage in the “thug life.” My neighbor dealt drugs until his cousin was gunned down. It is as if they have to be uneducated, “hard” “thug(s)” to be truly considered African-American males.
Notice I do separate African-American as it appears to be more of a phenomenon that is segregated from Africans that have immigrated to the U.S. This is a problem, and one of the results I am witnessing is the “black flight” out of my area. However what I am seeing is that the geographical cure does not solve anything when it is a cultural phenomenon. My hope is that more successful African-American males will mentor their brethren, offer a different definition of what it is to be an African-American male and place more of an emphasis on education. An article in the Washington Post does discuss the process and points to some hope.
Until there is less finger pointing at “the man” and more control of their own destinies is taken into their hands, the cycle of Sean Taylor(s) will continue. With hard work and a bit of luck, there will be less 18 month old children growing up fatherless. Please talk amongst yourselves.
This post was by Therapist1. I’d like to add a few thoughts. A good friend of mine is from Sierra Leone, and he’s (mildly) Republican. He came to the US with nothing, and has through hard work achieved upper middle class status. He has three kids – the eldest at West Point, the others in college or college-bound. His kids are very well-behaved, do well in school, and have a future. I credit his wife for keeping all four children (and Harry, if you’re reading this, you know who the fourth child is!) in line. And he says this. Using more or less the same language.