We hear about the few – those that catch a break through charitable groups and individuals. There’s always great publicity for scholarship winners and their sponsors. Athletic prowess is most important. Black people rave when Pookie, who can’t read well, inevitably scores winning touchdowns, or shoots and rebounds opposing teams into defeat.
Another anomaly is the number of black preachers that try to bring religion to imprisoned black youth, but will not darken the doors of majority black F, D and C- rated schools to help bring civility to them. What about Greek letter organizations’ unwillingness to work with black schools and inner-city families to save the children?
The larger question is not what, but where is the future for the vast majority of black youth? So many young black people do not see a future. They will tell you that their primary focus is on today and the day after that. Their tomorrow is mere hours away, not some far off nebulous something they can’t see. Why should they revel in some abstraction when reality is so stark, so eminent?
This generation seems already weary of racism and civil rights; for them there is no light and no end to the tunnel. Better than anyone else, far too many inner-city youth know they’ve been dealt a losing hand, as they say, “from the git-go.” No one, absolutely no family members, family friends, organizations or individuals made sure they were on the proper footing from the outset, before they reached their fourth birthday.
By middle school – where so many plunge into despair and descend as functional illiterates and stunted talents – black youth must be caught and transformed or most are doomed. Because of black adult negligence, drugs, crime, death or prison await so many unfortunate black youth. Other outcomes of slipshod adult behavior include babies birthed by their teenage children and HIV-AIDS from drug needles, prison rapes and sodomy.
Where is the future for black youth when parents and guardians forsake them? Where is the future when schools, churches and communities virtually ignore black youth? Isn’t it logical that if nobody cares about black youth, they are far less likely to have a positive future?
And yet there are legions of black and other adults who are both mystified and horrified by the response of the black youth sub-culture to any and all forms of authority. The message from pants worn down below the waist showing underwear in the back is poetically and symbolically: Kiss my behind!
Stunned society only picks up the quintessential rebellion implicit in the act itself, while ignoring or failing to see it as a heady response to actions already applied. Unfortunately, adult society shuns the rap odes and, therefore, learns nothing from or about black youth culture.
To this group, sex, money, partying and getting high represent both the dream and the action plan. Theirs is a reality stamped in sensation and instant gratification. Nothing else matters.
That many black adults suffer mental and physical exhaustion from a relentless struggle against being marginalized by white society, in myriad ways, compounds the issues of our youth.
The best approach to reversing this trend is to take charge, collectively. No gain will result from individual efforts to garner and maintain respect in a society that historically marginalizes black people. Only mass organized efforts can bring about positive social change — and it must involve organizing from the bottom up.
Blacks must organize politically and make sure that all eligible voters are registered to vote — and that they actually get out to vote. Blacks must organize for self respect by bringing about changed relations in the home and on the block. Blacks must change inner- city schools, churches and other organizations. Most importantly, blacks must place the primary neighborhood focus on youth development – educationally, culturally and spiritually.