No speaker participating in this summit explicitly identifies the youth violence problem as a Black problem, but the youth panel is all Black young people and Howard Gentry calls attention to the lyrics of rap music and how it encourages violence. Listening to the members of the youth panel is insightful in understanding how they justify or explain youth violence.
After meeting in small group break-out sessions, the participants come back with their evaluation of the problem and suggestions. The suggestions are for more recreational opportunities, more ways to get money or earn money, mental health care and health care, more job opportunities for youth and their parents, more involvement by young people in development of programs to serve young people, and a greater effort to connect young people to available services.
I hope these youth summits produce some good results, but I think a good starting point would be a recognition that the Black community is dysfunctional and that the youth violence problem is primarily a Black problem and that the welfare state has created a culture that destroyed the Black family and created an environment of hopelessness and dependency on government. I believe that the product of youth violence is a function of out-of-wedlock births and welfare dependency more than any other cause. Of course, changing course would require a change in national policy and a recognition that single parenthood is a cause of the problem. Even if there was a recognition of the problem it would take a decade to see changes and as a community we need to take actions that can have some immediate impacts.
Sometimes, I think we as a community make the problem worse when we create a victim mentality among Black citizens. When we imply that the reason more Black students get in-school suspension is because of discrimination rather than acknowledge that Black children engage in activity to deserve in school suspension at a higher rate, we create people who walk around with a chip on their shoulder and feel like victims. When we lament the high unemployment rate among Blacks without acknowledging the lack of skills among many Blacks that make them unemployable, we are not doing them a favor. A good place to start in dealing with the youth violence problem or other Black problems would be by telling the truth. Telling the truth will not get anyone any votes however.
Here is an excerpt from a Tennessean article that describes the youth violence problem in Nashville:
Of the 75 criminal homicides last year, 20 of the victims were teenagers or younger — the highest number of youth deaths to hit Nashville in the past decade. Three of them were infants who died as the result of abuse.I hope community leaders, especially Black middle class people, Black businessmen, and Black clergy will take part in these summits and engage in trying to reduce youth violence. We know that charter schools have produced whole classes of students where the teen girls do not become pregnant and the boys do not go to reform school. We should try to determine why that is the case and see what lessons can be learned from the charter school experiences. Maybe if young fatherless Black men had strong mentors, they would be less likely to become killers. I hope something good can come out of these summits and the attention being giving to the problem of youth violence.
Of the slain teens, 15 were male. All but four were African-American. The youngest was a 14-year-old girl.
Below is an announcement of the upcoming third summit to occur in the Antioch community. Follow the link to RSVP.
2/20/2016 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Youth Violence Summit - Reclaiming Young Adults
Details: Community leaders and experts will gather to identify barriers that may be limiting the success of youth ages 19 to 25 who have either experienced violence or are ex-offenders attempting to start a new path in life. Experts will include law enforcement, mentors, educators at the high school and post-secondary level, career development agencies, parents and individuals in this age range who can discuss the challenges they face.