Don’t Blame the Young, Blame the Adults

Image Credit: The New York Times |
Image Credit: The New York Times |

The central city communities predominantly occupied by African Americans are under an outright siege. Gunfire, death and destruction dominate the streets, and law-abiding residents are fearful for their lives. However, in no way is the attack from outside invaders. The perpetrators live within the communities being terrorized on a daily basis. If that is not strange enough, the terrorists are the young men and, to a certain extent, women who escape the reality of their existence by joining gangs.

In many ways they are similar to the 19th Century outlaw gangs that ruled the wild wild west. Much like the Dalton Gang, Billy the Kid and others from the past, these young people view themselves as outcasts, un-welcome intruders in a country they believe does not belong to them. They outright reject American principles and values as being hypocritical, and they view education as a useless endeavor. These young marauders perceive the police as their enemy, and their leaders as self-indulging charlatans only interested in their own economic well being, gained on the backs of the oppressed and down trodden.

Often their heroes are the brothers who have been locked up in the past or are doing time because they defied the system, and are willing to pay the price for that defiance. These young men. who have no problem pulling the trigger and taking a life, choose to take their chances for survival by joining forces with others who believe as they do.  Their outlook on life is both hedonistic and pessimistic, and that is an explosive combination for self-destruction.

It must be noted, however, that our young men did not get this way without our participation. And that participation is not of a positive nature. We have brought them into an absolute dysfunctional living environment. From their birth, pathological cultural institutions to include the family, the schools, their music, and even the church surround them. Positive images are usually missing in their lives. They often grow up in an environment of drugs, sex and crime. Usually the music they hear is not about love but sex, the images they see are of entertainers with tattoos on their face and all over their body, pants down below the waist and gold chains around their neck. Their life’s motto is to get what they can right now because tomorrow is not promised to them. And this becomes especially true when they attend the funerals of their young friends who have taken a bullet for the cause.

What all this reveals, is that we need to analyze what got us to this point and then consider a new paradigm different from the past. The great historian, Dr. John Hope Franklin, advised us that if you have a problem, look to the past for the source and then you can deal with it. We need no longer to bemoan our situation, but come up with new ideas and relevant approaches to turn this situation around. And it starts with the adults facing the fact that we have failed our young, and now need to find ways to rectify that failure.


2 thoughts on “Don’t Blame the Young, Blame the Adults

  1. Antoinette Franklin

    We can not blame the young who have not been taught. We as the elders must reach back and teach them the ways they must live. We can not give up on our children because “Mamma didn’t give up on us.” There is much work to be done and we the generation of knowledge must step up to the plate. Antoinette Franklin poet, author, educator

  2. William B Johnson

    I tend to agree Fred that we are, in many ways, responsible for the world in which we live. However, I am not prepared to totally give our youth a pass. We must demand order and decency from our youth while extending a hand of understanding and emcouragent. These are indeed challenging times.

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