alcalloway.jpgIf you are black and live in South Florida, then you know that too many inner-city deaths are attributable to HIV-AIDS. Except for those who may have been hiding under a rock, black people in general know where a lot of the dreaded disease comes from. Too many won’t say, but they know. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a black preacher who doesn’t wax biblically about the subject from the pulpit, especially framed in the context of Sodom and Gomorrah. Testifying hands will sway in the air amid shouts of “Amen” and “hallelujah,” as pastors scorn the devil.
But where are the black preachers and their churches, and other community-based organizations, including civil rights groups, fraternities and sororities, denouncing state and county approved rape and sodomy in prisons and jails? The proliferation of HIV-AIDS in black communities is a direct result of returning ex-offenders who are on the “down low.”

It was hard to miss the recent news reports on TV, radio and in newspapers about a white man murdered after “a three-way sexual tryst” with two black men. Photographs show two tough, macho-looking black ex-offenders, one 38 and the other 40 years old, according to The Miami Herald. They decided to rob the victim after sex. Fingerprints and DNA in semen found on the corpse led to their arrests.

Yes, I know even those scant details are gruesome, but you’ve got to understand that these men — and men like them — have relationships with women
in the community, maybe with several women. And, maybe, some of the women in turn have relationships with other men: One gets two, two get four, four get eight. . . .

Black people have got to face reality. Adolescents who lag in school are juvenile justice candidates. Once in the heinous criminal justice system, young people are exposed to sex: homosexual sex.

Some functional illiterates and stunted talents survive until their teenage years as school “force outs” or potential drop outs before incarceration, but, inevitably, because we – the community – do nothing to prevent them from failing, they leave and come back to haunt us. Inner-city neighbors are our thieves, dope fiends, low-level drug dealers, shooters, prostitutes, pimps and carriers of dreaded diseases, especially HIV-AIDS.

There is no chorus of voices demanding systemic change to the so-called education of inner-city youth, given their environment of poverty or near-poverty, lack of positive role models, lack of cultural exposure, and scant educational help in wholly or somewhat dysfunctional living situations.

Preachers are in and out of jails and prisons every day trying to help as many as possible keep some semblance of sanity. But the reality is that preachers and their flock, many of whom are family members of incarcerated men and women, and youth, have not organized their combined voices to speak powerfully for morality, drug rehabilitation, education and vocational training for all correctional inmates.

The ever-absconding black middle class can yet play a positive role within inner cities. Primarily, they retain leadership positions in inner-city churches to which they now commute. Therefore, they are the potential founders and developers of educational, cultural and economic community development programs for church neighborhoods. It’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely the Christian thing to do!

The reality is that black people have got to help one another. Take a studied look at our situation as a people. Dependency on others has moved too many blacks from tenant farm work to inner-city slums, from no schools to poor schools, and from no jobs to prison. Two and three generations of poor and near-poor women in too many families are struggling in man-less households to help care for grandbabies, adolescents and teenage mothers.

Let’s face reality: The help black people need is a hand up, and that has to be our hand. We have to help our own people. Who will come to the aid of those who sit idly by and watch their own people die?