Gang Violence and Black Youth
In every city, community, and town across America, young Black men are rehearsing the lyrics to their favorite songs. It is as though “life is imitating art,” and the sad fact is that for many, it is all too often, painfully true. The themes of violence, self-hatred, revenge, drug and alcohol use, and in some cases, misogyny, are not meant to be emulated. A thug’ is not necessarily about encouraging criminal or anti-social behavior (F-K the PO-LICE or the White man). Everybody talks about thug life’, but whether one really understands it or not is another matter. It seems that “thug life” is a cry for help from the fiery crucible of inner city life, amid the pain and desperation through words laced with profanity, of a community besieged with poverty, hopelessness, moral and spiritual decay.
Only a fool would want to be down’ in a way of life that leads in one of two directions, prison or the grave yard. The curious thing is that nearly every Rap song features the racists’ favorite word (NIG-, or something like that). Just changing a few letters doesn’t minimize or eliminate the psychological impact and history behind a word, which nearly a half century ago, would have triggered physical altercations and race riots if spoken by White people. Perhaps it is much easier to stab, shoot, or “post up” against someone who in the eyes of one’s adversary is a “Niggah,” instead of a brother, cousin, homey, or blood. Besides all that, hiring more police and building larger prisons are to protect White people from Black people. Crime does pay and the ones making money are the undertaker and the Courts. As Mr. T used to say, “I pity the fool.” (That’s you!)
There are teenage Black males who want to flex’ and brag about having been in jail or getting out of prison as though it is a badge of honor, a sort of right-of-passage into manhood. The question is, now that you have that noble distinction, get a job and support yourself or your family responsibilities. With a criminal record, one cannot vote, get a job with most employers except the labor-intensive ones (although they claim such information will not be used against you, sure!), rent an apartment because of a background check, or obtain credit anywhere.
Not to be overlooked is the appeal of belonging to a “gang” like the Crips’ or the Bloods’. Where is the glory or honor in a life of intimidating or mugging the vulnerable and elderly, partying, drug use, drive-by shootings against rival gangs, murder of the innocent, death row and solitary confinement in a maximum security prison? Not only that, but also adding insult to injury, the humiliation of becoming some big, Black brother’s “bitch” or gang-banged by a group of “The Girls,” (formerly someone else’s bitches’). Of course, one can always play hard’ and go out in a blaze of glory, like a true soldier, in a shootout with the PO-LICE (basically, committing suicide). Is Bill Bennett, Conservative talk show commentator and former Secretary of Education right, when he mentioned, “Well, I guess one way to lower the crime rate is if more Black women had abortions [of Black male fetuses].
Being true to the game’ is to be true to oneself, not selling out, but rather to make it in this world in spite of all the obstacles society will place in your path, and to do it legit’. If you can run a numbers operation or be a bookie’, you can be an accountant, so get your CPA. If you can run an illegal drug distribution network, then you can also run a Fortune 500 corporation, so why not attend college and get that MBA; then you can truly say as old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra would sing, “I Did It My Way” and then brag, How You Like me Now!
Lastly, why not use the gangs in each community as protectors of the community and not as destroyers. Love Yourself and love Black people, love the Black womb and Mother that you sprang forth from and that nursed you when you couldn’t take care of Yourself; even if it wasn’t but for a few minutes, months, or years. Respect yourself and the Black Father, even if he hadn’t been around. Don’t let your rage turn inward and then outward to wanton violence, disrespect for authority, and self-destruction. Forgiveness is hard, so very hard, but you must do this in order to heal. Forgive them, and then forgive yourself. Put down the guns, the switchblades, iron chains, marijuana, crystal meth, crack cocaine, heroin, drunkenness, orgies, and foolishness to embrace each other as one large, beautiful, Black family. Yes, “It truly takes a Village” to raise a [Black male] child as well as a glorious people’.