A tough conversation

Moderated by Rick Badie

Today, the president and CEO of a nonprofit organization writes about the plight of our city’s young black males and exhorts more people in the community to do what her group does – make these men a priority and help “raise the village.” Meanwhile, a local medical doctor admonishes what she calls “black slack.”

Thanks for starting tough conversation

By Rick Badie

Recently, a reader fired off a letter demanding to know why there was no “outrage” from us regarding the murder of an Australian baseball player, allegedly by three teens in Oklahoma. Even though The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried the story, as did probably all newspapers and media outlets, he called my profession a sham because – in his opinion – the athlete’s death didn’t garner the attention of Trayvon Martin.

The missive arrived days after our Aug. 22 Atlanta Forward page launched the start of a tough conversation on race and crime, notably blacks killing blacks. Those inaugural essays, with their disparate views, were well-received by our audience. The package garnered more than 60 reader comments. Of that number, only two had to be removed for being distasteful. Most comments were heartfelt and showed concern.

Like this one from “Q”: “Here’s a great example of what this issue faces. I agree with everything Jerome Hudson wrote but, being a 45-year-old white male, publicly expressing the same thoughts would end up costing me everything I have. Until two people of different races can review facts and draw the same conclusions and not have one labeled as a ‘racist this’  or ’sell-out that,’ we simply cannot begin to have intelligent discussions that lead to positive changes. People will find self-preservation more important.”

These and other comments suggest that, perhaps, we, our community, stand ready to engage in a discussion that affects all of us, regardless of zip code. Moreover, if nudged, we may be ready to get off the sidelines in large numbers and address violence by youth regardless of color.

It’s a notion that’s taken root. Last Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner met with President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House to discuss strategies to reduce youth violence. President Obama, in a pledge to the 18 mayors in attendance, said he would do everything in his power to fight gun violence and press Congress to pass commonsense reforms.

The good of our children has become a platform for the Reed administration and the Atlanta Police Department.

“We have a responsibility to shape our children’s futures,” Reed said in a statement. “They need positive role models to guide and mentor them so they don’t make the wrong choices that lead to a criminal life.”

Added Turner: “We want our officers to reach children on the front end, through athletic and life skills programs, rather than reaching them later when we are forced to place them in handcuffs due to their poor choices.”

Today, we present the second installment of this critical ongoing discussion regarding crime. It’s a complex issue that burns and demands your attention. Please share your thoughts, ideas and potential solutions on myajc.com and on the ajc.com Atlanta Forward blog.

Help raise villages of young black men

By Norma Joy Barnes

From the schoolhouse to the courthouse, the odds seem to be pervasively stacked against the black male. Unemployment rates, school dropout rates, income levels and incarceration rates of black males, compared to white males and black females, are clear indicators of challenges they face. This is particularly true for young black males 18 to 28. Too many in this age bracket are caught in the gap between youth and full manhood, with no hands-on support to help them succeed in life.

A disproportionate number of these young black males are poor, uneducated, unskilled, unemployed or underemployed. They are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. The unemployment rate for young black men is more than twice the rate for young white men; young black men are less likely to graduate from high school than young white men and are nine times more likely to die from homicides, seemingly “black-on-black” crimes.

Based on Georgia Department of Corrections data, black males represent 27 percent of Georgia’s population, but represent 68 percent of Georgia’s prison population. Incarceration rates are even higher in Fulton (87.1 percent) and DeKalb (87.3 percent) counties.

Although these statistics paint a bleak picture, the Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. (CCMA) believes the odds faced by young black males can be overcome with constructive strategies. To address these challenges, CCMA provides free “Overcoming the Odds” workshops; the Priority Male Institute, a 16-week job readiness institute; the 12-week DNA Young Fatherhood (Devotion, Nobility and Accountability) program; and a Man2Man mentoring program, all for black males 18-28 years of age.

Since its inception in 2008, CCMA has provided 40 free programs, serving over 1,000 black males. It has been extremely difficult obtaining funding for these programs due to the lack of priority. Many seem to feel young black males are to be blamed for their dismal state without understanding that many of them have not received the critical support needed to succeed in life. What they fail to understand is that far too many of these young men have grown up without fathers or male role models to help them navigate their journey toward responsible manhood. What people also fail to realize is that without outside support, these young men will perpetuate this legacy as they raise male children of their own. Further, without gainful employment and viable resources, they will be more likely to engage in unlawful activity. Young black men need our support.

I have always felt that it takes a village to raise a child, but now know that “a child of God” can help raise a village. There are villages of young black males who need help to raise the quality of their lives. Enough talk, let’s help raise the villages!

Norma Joy Barnes is CEO and president of the Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc.

Fixing black families

By Melody T. McCloud

Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers. High school and college graduation rates for black males are at an all-time low. Black-on-black crime appears to be soaring. Young males seemingly can’t go to a house party without someone getting shot or killed. It is disgraceful and inexcusable.

Some blame these current ills on slavery, and excuse the actions of uneducated and criminally-minded blacks as if they don’t have a choice in how they conduct their lives. It’s 2013. They do.

Whites also have ills: White males are angry. Some commit mass murders. Whites often use methamphetamines, commit suicide or die from anorexia or the “choking game.” While some blacks cry racism too often, whites don’t own or acknowledge it enough.

Too many blacks eagerly embrace what I call “Black Slack.” They take the path of least resistance. Proper attire has lost out to thug wear; biomedical engineering to basketball; romantic lyrics to vile hip-hop; civility to criminality. Learning proper English is trumped by “ebonics.”

A black person who encourages education and personal responsibility is often called a traitor. That is nonsensical, irresponsible and ignorant. The foolishness adopted by many black youth (and some parents) needs to stop. It’s inexcusable.

There are simply too many black children born out of wedlock and too many absentee fathers. There must be a restoration of black families that consist of married mothers and fathers.

Civil rights leaders fought, and some died, so blacks could have their rightful, fair chance at the American dream. Many honored those efforts and became dedicated company employees, professionals and entrepreneurs. But in recent decades, too many have squandered previous advances.

Today there’s no insistence on education, proper language skills, attire, morality, decency or respect for life – one’s own or anyone else’s. Black women need to respect themselves. Stop having babies without the benefit of marriage. There are too many (poorly-raised) children having children. Likewise, black girls need in-home, responsible fathers so they don’t seek “love” from sex-crazed boys, get pregnant, and continue the cycle of fatherless, undisciplined and poor-achieving offspring.

The black family needs men who know how to lead, read, respect and protect. The black community has self-inflicted internal bleeding. Hemorrhage. The prescription is one of tough love. But without remedying the above-mentioned ills, the patient, in this case the black community, will remain in grave condition.

Dr. Melody T. McCloud is an Atlanta-based OB-GYN.

67 comments Add your comment


September 5th, 2013
8:43 am

I have read all of these comments and have concluded that the issue of race and its impact on society will never, ever, be resolved. It makes me sad.

It’s also apparent that single, non-married parents generally cannot raise a child as well as a married, two parent family. When we embraced single mothers in an effort to support them, we created the unintended consequence of children who lack much. It makes me sad.

[...] A tough conversationAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Even though The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried the story, as did probably all newspapers and media outlets, he called my profession a sham because – in his opinion – the athlete’s death didn’t garner the attention of Trayvon Martin. … To …and more » [...]

NAACP = KKK + Greed

September 5th, 2013
8:12 am

Would the “Reverends” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton be more vocal and serious about the issue of Black-on-Black crime if there were money, power and media coverage in it for THEM and their own $elf-$erving agendas?


September 5th, 2013
8:03 am

My 35 year old step son is a white 35 year old , pants on the ground street punk. In and out of jail for 15 years blaming everyone but himself. When i go to work, my boss is a 63 year old black man who is a college graduate, while I am a high school graduate. He had parents who raised him to be a man and he raised his son to be a man who graduated from college too. It is family and choices.


September 5th, 2013
8:00 am

I think we’ve lost some context in these discussions when it comes to human nature. The majority of the conversations I hear regarding the problems with the black community in the US seem to imply that the root cause itself is being black. The contrast is always thrown up that you do not see the children of white, asian, indian, etc ethnicities committing x crime or having y educational statistic. The problems are not genetic, they are social. You could analyze specific places throughout history and find a similar context for every ethnicity; Romans vs the tribes of Europe, British vs India, Nazi Germany vs the Jews, Europeans vs Native Americans, Mongols vs Muslims, and on and on. Our peaceful and developed world is very a new and fragile thing. Humans have been raised as tribes stretching beyond recorded history. Human nature makes it easy to divide and therefore dehumanize anyone we perceive as dangerous to our tribe.
You can’t deny that black society was repressed in this country and you can’t use it to exonerate the actions of individuals. By making this a racial issue it becomes nothing more than a tit for tat exchange between perceived racial foes. Look at how out of control the discussions are between our two political parties to see the detrimental effects that prolonged social division have. We are all humans; forget the labels of race, country, wealth, education. The only way we can begin to solve the problems our society is facing is to stop dehumanizing and demonizing each other.
There is no magic bullet solution to the situation facing blacks in the US but I can guarantee what fixes it starts inside of you.


September 5th, 2013
7:57 am

As a father of teenaged black girl, I am more fearful of her being harmed by a person of their own race. Living what some would say a very comfortable life, my daughter deals with the verbal abuse of other black girls at school because she gets good grades, works in the family business and have both parents present all PTA and teacher conferences. During the summer we took her “Friend” on vacation with the family. At the beginning of this school year the “Friend” opted to started calling her “White Girl” because her family did “White” things. REALLY… What are “White’ things? The problem is we as blacks are jealous and unhappy when others are doing well or have things others don’t. We tend to want to hurt or steal from each other instead embrace and lean. I have never (knowingly..) had anything stolen from me from a white guy. However, I have been victimized by a person of my own race. Racism is present but I find there’s more racism within my race against each other. I am not a member of the NAACP, GOP or consider my self a Democrat. I am independent… Even though I didn’t agree with everything he offered. I voted for President Obama not because he’s black but because I thought he offered a better plan.. I can’t say that for some of the people I know or work with me. I hate the “Obama” phones. I know a guy who has three of these phone… SHAME on HIM. He doesn’t use them to get jobs but to call his drinking girls. Why does he have three? Because someone (YOU AND ME) else pays for them. Why do we need “Black Leaders” Do “White Leaders” exist? I find most of the self titled “Black Leaders” ride in to save the day only when the cameras roll and the opportunity for financial gain is present. The issue of Black on Black crime, Black teen pregnancy, Sagging Pants, etc is internal. We have to fix ourselves instead of blaming others… A Rock is Hard, Water is Wet… Get Over It…..


September 5th, 2013
7:54 am

Sadly, this whole thing isn’t a conversation at all. This is nothing more than the authors of the articles putting their bigotry into print.

I’m a white woman. Currently raising a daughter alone. But, not because I had her out of wedlock, but because her father died when she was 15 thanks to the medical system in this country. Another topic for a “conversation” not being had either – just more screeching by republicans.

Someone asked what has government ever done right. Well, I can tell you one thing – social security. It works for one reason – the authors had the good sense to keep social security locked away from the very republicans who “decry” government and then can’t wait to get a government job.

The simple reason our youth are in trouble is because the lone parent is too busy working 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the rent and buy food to be around. Our society gives them 2 choices – starve or parent.


September 5th, 2013
7:52 am

I hate how leftists appropriated the legitimate African proverb “it takes a village” and totally corrupted it to suit their socialist aims. Yes, African tribes have what can be called a form of socialist economics, but A) African society is not our society so we have to do in America what works over here in our modern, capitalist society and more important B) the form of African tribal socialism works because it is rooted in a strong family structure (which yes includes polygamy but that is besides the point). Without the family structure, African tribal socialism would descend into the same dysfunctional chaos that the black community in America experiences. Their social and economic structures wouldn’t work either with 75% illegitimacy rates (and over 90% in some areas). Basically, African tribal socialism is FAMILY ORIENTED SOCIALISM. (Tribe basically equals extended family.) So you can’t take what is rooted in and developed around family and use it to replace the absence of a family.

Workshops, institutes, organizations etc. are not going to replace having a father in the home. And the only reason why this is never admitted is because feminists are far more powerful on the left than civil rights leaders are. If Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or Barack Obama were to start talking about the need for fathers and families (beyond Obama’s male-bashing on Father’s Day, totally ignoring that women are just as responsible for illegitimacy as men are, and when you consider that it is a relatively small number of men who father a large number of illegitimate children and many women have illegitimate children with multiple men perhaps women are more responsible) the feminists would freak out, which is why the issue is never discussed.


September 5th, 2013
7:42 am


Melody T. McCloud clearly stated that slavery was no excuse. But you were so determined to express your racial hatred for blacks that you refused to acknowledge it.

Incidentally, the Hebrews were enslaved 3500 years ago, not 150 years ago. Also, 40 years after slavery they received their own country where they were the overwhelming majority and controlled their economic, social, political and legal system for the next 900 years, and controlled most of those things for 700 years after that. Blacks by contrast went from slavery to Jim Crow and other forms of systematic discrimination, and it was not until the 1980s when the notion of equality was actually accepted by mainstream America, but even that equality came with minority status, where blacks are less than 15% of the population, control less than 2% of the wealth and have no real political power (beyond bloc-voting for Democrats, which has long yielded diminishing returns).

Now I am not using slavery as an excuse, especially when it comes to things like illegitimacy (because more than 80% of blacks were born in wedlock as recently as the 1950s, and the illegitimacy thing really began to spiral out of control in the mid-80s) but merely pointing out that the experiences of the Hebrews and that of blacks in America cannot be compared.

If you want a better comparison point: eastern Europeans. (The word “slave” came from “slav”, as in the eastern European Slavic peoples, who were frequently enslaved by western Europeans and other peoples.) Until the formation of the EU, the treatment of eastern Europeans by western Europeans was atrocious … indeed that was one of the major causes of World War I, which began when Serbs assassinated an Austrian dignitary and his pregnant wife. (The men who committed this murder and sparked that horrific war are considered heroes in Serbia to this day.) But strangely, folks who love to make these race-based arguments only compare blacks to American and western European whites. Eastern Europe – which was as dysfunctional, corrupt and poverty stricken as any African or Latin American nation before the formation of the EU allowed eastern Europeans to go to western Europe to be unskilled laborers and receive educations – well they pretend as if it doesn’t exist. An example: how everyone does their best to ignore that the Boston bombers, the Tsarnaevs, are Europeans (literally from the Caucasus region where the very term Caucasian derived to begin with) because they are from Eastern Europe not western Europe. Gee, I wonder why these black bashers never seem to acknowledge the existence of eastern Europeans. Can someone tell me?


September 5th, 2013
7:32 am

This kind of “dialogue” is a complete waste of time for a lot of reasons.
1- The people whose actions are causing the problems don’t give a crap about what everybody else thinks about their lifestyle. Wedges.
2-Tribalism. I want to think that the majority of black people are much like the majority of white people when it comes to seeking “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” through hard work and clean living. Yet when an incident like the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case gets sensationalized by the race hucksters the vast majority of blacks join ranks behind the hucksters completely ignoring the facts on the ground [ i.e. the ONLY eye witness having the black guy on top MMA'ing the "white hispanic" ]. Wedges.
3-The media. Keeping race relations riled up generates $$$$$. Wedges for dollars !
4-The federal gooberment. There is no bigger foul up than our own government. Everything the gov does turns to crap. For every ‘hand up’ there are scores of slap downs. They take from the ‘rich’ [middle class] and give to the “poor”. Resentments soar. More wedges. …… They give ‘immigrants’ priority. Instantly, black people find themselves replaced by said ‘immigrants’ on jobsites across the country. Opportunities stolen. Hopelessness . Criminality. Who gets the blame ? Whitey. More resentments, more wedges. Yet the solution most called for by black ‘leaders’ is more gov intervention in our lives.
4-White apathy. Nothing will change. Why make any effort.