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It is not often that I feel the need to comment on stories in this paper. But last week's Streetbeat column truly irked me. The question was, "Would you turn in a relative or friend to collect the reward?" Sadly out of the seven people who were asked the question, the six young responders, who all looked under the age of 30, proudly professed that even if their friend or loved one was a murderer, they wouldn't turn him or her in. Sick! Sick! Sick!
Only one gentleman spoke up and said he wouldn't want the reward. He would turn them in for free. That's the response I would want and expect. What worries me more are the number of young people who feel they can deal with a murderer because that person is related to them or a good friend. I have to wonder if they have ever given any thought to the idea that if their relative or friend can kill someone else, could their relative kill them as well?
Since the beginning of mankind when Cain slew his brother Abel, a murderer is not to be celebrated. Yet I wonder how many of those young people, who are so willing to support their murdering relatives or friends, would want the killer found if it was their mother or child killed? We have a murder rate in black neighborhoods that should qualify us for immediate crisis intervention. Every single day our young people are killed for God knows what reasons. Other young people are picking up guns and using them in response to situations that don't even elicit a violent response.
What was even more amazing in reading the young people's answers is that they all try to use some convoluted logic to justify their position. "Blood ain't thicker than water" if your support for your murdering relative or friend has you charged with being "an accessory to murder after the fact." And if God didn't save the victim, why should the rest of us have to live with the murdering thug just because you don't want to "drop a dime?"
The irony of the young people's comments can be juxtaposed with the current headlines regarding the Trayvon Martin murder. Thousands of black people are marching and protesting and demanding justice for Trayvon. But how many in the crowd would respond as the young people here in Austin did?
How many ministers here in Austin are giving sermons on the subject of violence and retribution? We currently have an ongoing shooting war going on between young people on both sides of North Avenue. We have young children wandering the streets from the time school gets out until the wee hours of the morning when they finally go in. We have a lack of jobs, a lack of educational opportunities and a lack of real leadership from both the political and religious spheres. We are quick to point a finger if a white person kills a black, but we put on blinders when we see the constant black-on-black. We show far too little outrage when it is a black who has committed crimes against a non-black individual.
I wonder if the parents of those six young people are the source of their mindsets - or is it the streets? I surely would be interested to know if those six are contributing to the world or if they are among those who create the havoc in the world? There was a time when we could dismiss comments like these as a sign of someone with false bravado.
Sadly, with murders being the black community's major claim to fame in the headlines and with dozens of unsolved murders, the reality is that we have become no better than those who once held us in bondage and chains.