Staff Reporter, The Daily Voice, Posted September 29, 2009 8:45
A Chicago honors student was beaten to death on Thursday as two rival gangs fought outside a community center in that city.
An amateur cell phone video posted on YouTube showed a young man being struck on the head by a young man with a long wooden board, then punched by another young man. (link)Too many of our youth lost to gun violence By Dwight Lewis, The Tennessean, Sunday, September 27 2009
Sometimes you just want to yell, stop it, stop it! We've got to stop it! We're losing too many of our children and teenagers to senseless deaths, senseless killings, senseless shootings.We've got to stop it! We've got to get them to put away their guns, to value life. Too many of these children and teenagers are being shot down as if they were a deer or rabbit being hunted. We've got to stop it!
The above video and news story is disturbing, sickening, and frightening. To talk about bad timing, this does not bode well for Chicago being picked as the site for the 2016 Olympics. The Olympic pick however is a footnote to the tragedy of this story. I have seen news coverage of this story and feel sadness for the boy’s family. Apparently the victim in this story was a good kid and a good student and was just caught in wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong place and the wrong time was a bus stop on the way to school during the day.
What has happened to America that things like this are not so uncommon? The truth is that things like this are common, not "in America" but in the Black community. It is not just in Chicago that things like this happen. In Dwight Lewis's column above he list the eighteen homicides that have occurred this year to-date in which the victim was younger than 18. Most of the victims are Black kids murdered by other Black kids. Neither Nashville, nor Chicago is unique and unfortunately this is typical for the inner cities of America.
I have spent most of my adult life working closely with African Americans and working in the inner city. As a city councilman for eleven years, one of the neighborhoods I represented was a Black community. I also chaired the Federal Grants Review Committee of the Metro Council that had legislative oversight of Community Development issues and related topics so I had insight into what was going on in the Black community. As a previous employee of the local housing authority and in my current job as a housing counselor, I serve mostly Black clients. I have worked in the housing projects trying to provide services that lift people out of poverty. I have seen some successes. I have seen some people change their attitude and change their life, but for the most part I have seen failure.
There are lots of reasons and excuses why black poverty persist, and along with the poverty, the despair, violence and lawlessness. I don’t have the answer of how to change the Black community. I have some ideas about what brought us to this point and some thoughts about what we should be doing, but I really don’t know if any of it would make much difference. In the 90’s with Welfare reform I thought we were making a major step in the right direction. A program called HOPE VI, I thought was a small step, but a step in the right direction. I thought No Child Left Behind was perhaps another modest step in the right direction. The truth is that not much has changed. The Black community seems as hopeless and crime ridden as ever.
One of the reasons I became a “disgruntled” Republican is because my party ignored the problems of the inner city, when I felt that following up on welfare reform, we had an opportunity to make a real difference. I have been ashamed of Republican indifference. The last Republican who cared about Black people and urban problems was Jack Kemp. I wanted the party to have more Jack Kemps. As unhappy as I have been about the Republican Party’s policy of indifference I thought Republican indifference was preferable to Democratic policies that would foster further dependence. I want policies that will fundamentally change the nature of Black society and lift Blacks out of poverty, not programs that simply subsidize the poverty.
I did not expect much from President Obama that would really improve the Black community. Liberalism fosters greater dependence, which is the last thing the Black community needs. But I was hopeful that President Obama’s example of hard work, responsibility, stable intact family, and success would inspire. I was hopeful he would use the bully pulpit and his prestige to motivate change in Black America.
Instead of flying off to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago for the Olympics, I wish Obama would have gone to Chicago and pitched non-violence, lawfulness and responsibility and called attention to epidemic of youth violence that is taking its toll on the Black communities of America.