By Arlene Jones
Being a black child in America automatically comes with its own unique set of challenges. Being a black child born into an impoverished household where generation after generation has accepted and normalized dysfunctional behavior adds to that burden.
The black community has forever lost the "we were poor but didn't know it" reality of a mere 40 years ago. It has been replaced by one where being poor is an endless battle to maneuver the systems that are created and designed to maintain that poverty.
Being black and poor is no longer a survival struggle or one where the person rails against the system; rather, it is one where people are lured into a fantasy world believing that they can "get over" on such a system. The "addicted to poverty system' is so large, so engrained and so self-propagating that it swallows up all who actively engage in it or rage against it. Decades of housing subsidies, food subsidies, and social programs have failed to break any of the negative cycles.
The worst poverty that exists today is the "mental poverty." Its grip can be seen in the current generation of teens, tweens and barely grown young adults who have succumbed to the lure of crime as their only option in this life.
How else can we explain the young black children who have made headlines over the past couple of weeks? From Damon Phillips, who was shot and killed attempting to rob a young man in Oak Park; to two 17-year-old and a 12-year-old kids who stole a car in Forest Park and then were caught on I-55 after shooting at police; to Jacquez Mack, 15, and Corey Hill, 16, who were murdered at 13th and Lawndale.
All the "hows" and the "whys" have yet to answer or even resolve the problem that is now festering on the surface. Everyone wants the current streak of violence to end, but as it becomes more engrained in our reality, we are accepting of it. Instead of outrage, the sentiment seems to be that the trouble our society is in is someone else's problem.
If we acknowledge that the first three years of a young person's life is focused on them learning to walk and talk, what is going on during the next nine years and longer that is turning them into killers, thugs or people to be murdered?
I wish I had the solution. I wish I could fix the problem like yesterday. The answers to fixing and finding a response lie with those charged and paid to address the social ills. Where is Black Leadership? They have been mostly silent and absent as the chaos and disorder has gone from a weekly to daily occurrences. Whether by election or self-anointment, their vociferous silence has been the largest voice missing. They are the ones charged with being the resolvers of the issues and even if they have no solutions their voice and power to express those issues is sorely needed.
If leadership needs directions to start, then I would suggest they begin with a hard and fast look at social media and the role it plays in the current carnage. More fights have started over social media and more mess is kept up because of it. It is an unregulated industry where people have been left to their own devices. There hasn't been any established protocol or etiquette for it. If nothing else, it is a start.
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