Many of us stand in silence as our young brothers and sisters spiral down a path of “No Return.” We have the power of voice, action, and knowledge, yet we choose none of these. Instead, we choose the most powerful activity of all—silence.
“Some people would rather die than think.” Bertrand Russell
All of us, at one time or another, can plead “guilty” to silence. We have watched drug deals, sexual promiscuity, spousal abuse, street violence, theft, and murder. And it seems that we are all participating in the “don’t snitch” street code of conduct—even in our homes.
In the last 30 years, nearly 50% of the homicides in the U.S. were committed by black people—mostly black men—and 94% of the victims of the black killers were black. Cosby and Pouissaint, 2007.
At the end of 2008, there were an estimated 1.36 million prisoners under state jurisdiction. Black people accounted for 38% of this number. USDOJ, 2010. It looks worse when you consider that black people are only 13% of the U.S. population. Census.gov.
These are just a couple of examples; other statistics also remain high: school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections, and fatherlessness.
Roughly, 70% of black babies are born to single mothers each year. Cosby and Pouissaint, 2007.
This painted picture can get very depressing, but I believe that is important to the past and the present in order to do better in the future.
What can we do?
I am not advocating that we jump in front of bullets or intervene in some stranger’s personal affairs. What I would suggest is that we start in our own circles. A brother, cousin, sister, or niece is a great place to start. While these conversations may be difficult to have, it is better for them to have some new knowledge and not need it, rather than to not have the information at all. One day, when they have to make a critical decision, your voice may resonate in their minds and cause them to second guess a poor decision.
This type of passive aggressive change is only a start. Once you work with one member of the family move to another. Before you know it, you may even start a movement in your own neighborhood. There are many things that we need to do in order to save our communities. I do not expect this course of action to change hearts and minds overnight, but it is a start.
You can choose to be an active part in the revitalization of the community or you can just observe as it all falls down.
I invite you to share positive things that you are doing to help improve your family and community.