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

Jerome

September 5th, 2013
11:40 am

Sad thing is we do have black role models for our children for example Dr. Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas, but look at the names they are called….sell out, Uncle Tom, House Negro…. When young black men hear these comments about these highly successful men, what kind of image does that give them. The media needs to stop degrading successful black men especially conservative ones.

Morris Devereaux

September 5th, 2013
11:22 am

In the name of Trayvon????

Oh please.

Morris Devereaux

September 5th, 2013
11:21 am

@Bernie, I don’t believe that you’re correct. It’s not that people had no concern, it’s that when they expressed concern by criticizing actions within the black community (for example, single unmarried mothers), they were called racists and bigots. White people quickly learned that their best efforts would be rejected and they’d be branded as racists…so they quit trying to help. That’s not unconcerned, that’s being slapped down and rejected.

LISTEN//////////////////////////////////////////

September 5th, 2013
11:21 am

HEADLINE NEWS…………………………………………….THE WAR IS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS…………………..PEOPLE…………………HELP OUR YOUNG PEOPLE……………..IN THE NAME OF TRAYON…………….THERE’S NO MORE ROOM IN THE PRISONS……….I CARE ABOUT SYRIA……………………BUT WE MUST TAKE CARE HOME ALSO……………….

Morris Devereaux

September 5th, 2013
11:18 am

Chris, I don’t really know how you feel that’s “simple”. In almost every case of self-defense, the person who defended himself is not arrested. How do you feel this is any different? Certainly, there were questions, but the injuries to Zimmerman clearly showed he was in an altercation of some type and I have to assume his answers satisfied the police investigating on the scene. So how is this different from any other case of self-defense?

Bob

September 5th, 2013
11:12 am

Jazzpman
September 5th, 2013
6:16 am
“I found it terrible the Bush administration stopped most of the after school programs, and funding for the Boys and girls clubs of America, all while perusing War. I think this did horrible damage to young children of lesser income for all, not just the black folks, allot of kids then were “running the streets “, and not getting any after school help. This has now become an issue with crime, as kids learned about crime, instead of valuable learning and play time. The GOP would argue they don’t have to fund these poor kids activity, but the end action has young kids involved in much more crime.”

Wow, black on black crime is because of George Bush and this has now become an issue ? Really ?
So black on black crime was not an issue when Bill Clinton wanted to fund midnight basketball ? And you blame Bush for kids not getting after school help as if a parent is not responsible for that ? And do we blame Bush for the failing schools in our area run by liberals ? When APS wasted millions in the e scandal did people like azzpman blame Beverly Hall or was that Bush’s fault ? APS, Clayton and DeKalb schools have been run by democrats for some time but lets blame Bush for the fact that they graduate about 55 to 60% of it’s students. Lets blame Bush for the fact that many kids graduate with the reading skills of an 8th grader. And then we have this jewel from Azzpman.

“I am amazed the GOP and even the Obama leadership would peruse War with Syria, yet continue to avoid dealing with the problems here at home. Seems as long as a buck could be made on War, then that is the bottom line as to what we should do I would be particularly upset to think my tax dollars are used for that, and not helping American’s”.

Really, the GOP and even the Obama would peruse a war with Syria ? What does that mean, the gop and EVEN Obama ? It is Obama driving this issue and the majority against it are repubs.

If you want to help young blacks then quit telling then how bad America is and how they are getting screwed. It won’t help Sharpton’s bank account but it may help young blacks get a grip on reality.

Bernie

September 5th, 2013
10:52 am

No one should be surprised at what we all are witnessing. This is not a CRISIS that has just flared up. The issue of Crime and young African American Males of America has been right in front of us for the past (25) Twenty-five years or more. No one cared and there has been no real concern or care because they were African American.

When you have more members of any segment of our population going to PRISON than going to College. what can you really expect the outcome to be?

We are only at the beginning of Truly recognizing the seriousness of this growing Powder Keg. This problem will get FAR worse before it gets better. We now have a generation or two of Americans whose Life is an integral part of America’s Prison Culture. In No way will this be an easy fix and a quick resolution. Today, another (10) Ten Thousand or more young African Americans will be sentenced to Jails and Prisons all across America. Caged with the millions who are already await their joining of the burgeoning ranks. They will be greeted by those who are already there with Cheers and Shouts of acceptance in glee. Adding to the ranks of angry Young men who will someday released among us to vent their frustration and anger on all those whom they encounter.

America and its people are only reaping what we have sowed. We can yell,shout and blame the other as to who is responsible for this Crisis. Not until we act with conviction and with a serious intent on changing this growing culture of social misfits. We are all to blame and will suffer its consequences. Its good to Finally to see this issue get the attention that it needs and deserves. But we are not even close yet to solving its problem. This issue is a problem for America and All Americans. Putting our heads in the sand and blaming the other will not achieve any real and viable solutions. Such actions will only harden already long held emotions and prejudices. We are only at the beginning stage of truly understanding the Crisis before ALL of us. How we approach it and what we do about it, time will only tell.

BuckeyeGA

September 5th, 2013
10:30 am

@Rafe Hollister
I’ve never agreed with anything you said before but I agree with your post.

@Chris
True, plus the family CALLED Sharpton for help. That situation is very different than the other example of the Australian or Brunswick issue. It’s pretty obvious. Well it should be.

Rafe Hollister

September 5th, 2013
10:23 am

Expectations is what it is all about. You pretty much get what you expect. If you raise your child with the expectations that he/she will go to college and get a good job, then that is what you will get. If your expectations are to raise a great NBA player, or a rap star, and that is all you emphasize, you get what you expect. How do you get parents to expect the best for their kids, that is the question.

Chris

September 5th, 2013
10:13 am

Ok!!! Once & for all. The difference between the Trayvon situation & all other situations is quite simple. Zimmerman killed Trayvon & was never arrested even though they knew he did it. That’s what all the outrage was about.