There was a time when the men we warned young, single mothers against were their new boyfriends. We had seen tragedy after tragedy occur when those mothers left their child with the man and the kid ended up dead. The trifling-but-true reasoning behind their death was that the man couldn’t deal with the baby crying, or soiled clothing, or the kid ate the last piece of cake. The sad-but-pathetic truth is that these women established a family unit with men who were not interested in family.

Now we have to amend that warning to include the baby’s daddy who is in “the life.” By “the life,” I mean they’re out in the streets, creating havoc and chaos, and in return, that havoc and chaos comes back on them, usually by means of bullets aimed at the man and anyone with/near him.

If ever there was a “true” street code of conduct, it has long since been eliminated. We have a generation of adults, born at the beginning of the new millennium, who have spent their entire lives playing Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Call of Duty, etc., as their model for living. These games have influenced young minds to the point that gang culture has taken military codewords for their slang. As an example, they don’t have gang-member “rivals;” they have “ops” instead.  

Recently Chris Kempczinski, CEO of McDonald’s, got caught up in a situation where some private text conversations with Lori Lightfoot were publicly leaked. The contents of the conversation were revealed due to a Freedom of Information request. That doesn’t pass my sniff test because why would that sort of exchange even come under anyone’s radar unless one of the participants in the conversation put the information in the ear of a reporter. 

Anyway, referring to the death of Jaslyn Adams, who was executed in the drive-thru lane of the McDonald’s, and Adam Toledo, who was out shooting a gun at 2 a.m. and whose own mother failed to report him missing before he was killed by an officer chasing him down a dark alleyway, the CEO wrote, “With both, the parents failed those kids, which I know is something you can’t say. Even harder to fix.”

I guarantee you, a lot of folks said exactly the same thing. I know I did and more. Yet it wasn’t until the news broke that a rich, white male said it that some folks finally got vocally, highly indignant. Including the mother of Jaslyn Adams. 

One of the things that remains true is that the truth hurts. At the time of Jaslyn’s murder, a video was circulating of a young lady who was sending a message to the father about the killing. That video was horrific because it basically confirmed what a lot of us had been whispering. The killers knew the little girl was in the car and didn’t care. All one has to do is look at the bullet holes to the rear of the car to know that.

It has been six years since Tyshawn Lee was lured into an alley and murdered by individuals mad at his father. There have been others since, and until we address the sins of the fathers and mothers, their children are paying the penalty. 

Most of us grew up hearing that warning from the church. It is long overdue for us to listen.