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Has war been waged against the black youth of America?

Some believe that the nation has waged war on the black youth of America. and that marches and rallies send a message of intolerance.
Some believe that the nation has waged war on the black youth of America. and that marches and rallies send a message of intolerance.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

9 out of 10 African-Americans will vehemently tell you that the American justice system has failed the black youth of this country. With the number of young black men falling victim to violence and their perpetrators escaping justice, it isn't hard to see where that opinion comes from.

With Florida's recent Trayvon Martin trial resulting in a successful George Zimmerman "Stand Your Ground" defense and a new trial looming in that state where a young African-American male is gunned down for simply playing his rap music too loudly, this may not be a far-gone conclusion to have reached.

But who's really at fault? Some say the government, some the parents, some even blame the church. Let's explore who actually can and cannot be held responsible for the plight of African-American youth from a basis of fact and reality, not ignorance and emotion.

The Church:

During a recent discussion on this subject, a Facebook comment reads,

"Nobody cares...It sickens me to the lack of respect that Black men get and Black people get period..But our folks always scurry to get approval from white folks, from the white system and then when people speak on it, they say we are playing the race card and we are militant. Well stop dealing me the cards and I will stop playing them, and if militant means I won't take no crap, then yeah that is me..But open warfare on Black men has to be stopped. Sad thing is, you won't hear or see the preachers on this, where the folks who got so much to say about everything else, but when it comes to us they ghost..."

But is this a fair indictment of the church? It cannot be disregarded that churches have to walk a fine line when it comes to issues of a political or socioeconomic nature such as race relations. Hence, the theory of the separation of Church and State. While this is merely a principle and not Constitutional law, one of the worst things that can happen to a church is to lose its 501(c)(3) status because it became involved in issues that are reserved for the Justice System. The purpose of the church is to teach the Word of God to all people, irrespective of demography and societal influence. It's bad enough that not enough people tithe or donate to the church, so losing that status would sink the church and not allow them to support impoverished communities, which is another of its functions. Several individuals and families benefit from the charity provided by the church and, without it, would not have a decent meal or a safe place to lay their heads. Does the church do enough? Not according to some, but in its defense, more blame falls on its congregation than its leaders.

The home:

Most people agree that positive influence begins in the home. While the media, sports, and music do more to shape the attitudes and behaviors of the black youth than the parents or guardians, several households (especially inner city) are susceptible to such influence and have little defense against them. The biggest motivator in any household is money, however, the "shiny things" principle has been widely perpetuated among those in power, with respect to black people. It states that black people, like monkeys, cannot resist shiny things and will make poor decisions to get them. While the ability to purchase those things cannot, ultimately, be prevented, the path for most blacks to obtain those things has been narrowed to sports and music. The majority of successful people in those very arenas do more to uphold the "shiny things" principle than to dispel its validity. Much is made of the cars, money, and material things that success brings, however, little is done to promote investment in businesses, communities, and things that have a high rate of return such as stocks/bonds and real estate. It must be noted that, investing in real estate does not mean purchasing a multi-million dollar home and wasting what's left on cars, jewelry, and clothes. It makes little sense to have no liquid assets and be forced to either mortgage your home just to make ends meet, or sell it at a loss. Big money is made in commercial real estate (a la R. Donahue Peebles) and building up communities. The best way to ensure that a community will thrive is to own it and build it up.

That is not to say that someone who works an honest living and obtains wealth doesn't deserve all the "shiny things" that they can afford. It should, however, be the icing on the cake, not the whole cake. When a young black man obtains wealth by means of an honest living, often missing is someone close to them that can teach the value of investing wisely and not flushing hard earned money down the toilet. Yes, Hop Hop mogul Jay Z demonstrates a more positive approach to managing wealth, but one can only hope that this entrepreneurial mindset catches fire among others in the Hip Hop arena. After all, this is the arena that black youth are most influenced by.

With respect to education, it's no secret that far too many black youth have no interest in pursuing higher learning if it means coming out of his/her own pockets. Their parents cannot provide much financial help due to their own denied opportunities or poor decisions from their pasts. Thus begins the vicious cycle. However, denying black youth the opportunity to obtain higher education is no longer an acceptable excuse, as evidenced by the large number of black scholarship athletes. With the proper guidance before, during, and after college, they can go on to become reputable, responsible, and successful former athletes rather than former rich ballers who ended up broke when their sports careers ended.

The government:

While some may argue that the playing field has been leveled with the election of the nation's first black President, much more can and should be done to provide equal opportunities for blacks. It has been said of those who represent the African-American community, politically; that the model that got blacks the right to vote [while effective in its time] is no longer an effective model to better the black community. The issues plaguing blacks today require a different approach, the proper stand, and a different mindset to bring about the change needed to "save" and preserve the future of the African-American male. The time for elected officials who organize marches, rallies, and boycotts must give way to possessing the political wherewithal to influence positive change with legislation geared toward removing unfair, one-sided laws that favor those who can afford savvy representation and exploit legal loopholes to escape justice for the taking of innocent African-American lives. Again, this goes back to changing the mindset of the black youth and raising a society of young blacks willing to take on the "establishment" that has, for decades, sought to impede, impoverish, and imprison the African-American youth. This can only be achieved from within with the support of all those without.

Several blacks have become completely disenchanted with the American system of "justice" and "fairness". Those same people have often stated that the only way to get the respect due to African-Americans is to take it by any means necessary. War is the worst possible outcome to self-preservation, but when backed into a corner, even the most docile animal will exhibit its most violent behavior. It will take a concerted effort on all sides to ensure that the "war" on the African-American youth does not become an all-out race war which will yield nothing less than more loss of precious lives.

The bottom line appears to be this:

The black youth of America have been dealt an unfair hand, almost from the minute they broke through the veil. The phrase "born with one strike against me" not only applies directly in this case, it is pervasive in black society even to this day. Disagree? One need only take a look at and listen to the negative, racially charged propaganda being spewed all over conservative news media for years now. National outlets such as Fox News, and almost every conservative radio station in the country cannot get enough of bashing the first black POTUS for having an agenda to help the middle class, which in their minds simply means making things better for blacks. The Holy Grail of the Republican Party is keeping the rich richer and the poor subdued. It goes without saying that the poorest in this country are the African-Americans. Sure, they can hide behind the political opposition to the (D) attached to Obama's name, but this sort of vitriol far exceeds politics, and everyone knows it whether anyone with an (R) is poised to openly admit it or not. The disparity of conviction rates between blacks and whites, for the same offenses, remains extremely skewed, even in the year 2014. As of 2010, the incarceration rate of black males was over six times higher than that of white males, with a rate of 4,749 per 100,000 US residents.[1]

If, after all has been considered, an argument can be made against there being a war waged against the black youth of America, a clearer viewpoint can be obtained once one’s head is taken from out of the sand. If one does, indeed, see the validity in this observation, it is equally worth noting that it's not too late to change the narrative.

[1] Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009 - Statistical Tables - US Bureau of Justice Statistics, published June 2010.

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