Friday, January 9, 2009

Black-on-Black Violence Study: Not Just Causing African-Americans More Harm Than Good (Part II)

In my previous article we reviewed an interesting abstract by James F. Anderson on the causes of crime in urban areas [1]. We concluded that one of the main problems with studying community crime the way Anderson did and how many others are doing now is that it fosters separatism and fragmentation at all levels and out right denial by the white community. We found that this “us” and “them” mentality results not only in fragmented societies but fragmented public policy—which has caused many of America’s communities to become dysfunctional. It has also resulted in lethargy and misunderstanding from whites.

Yet, there are commonalities in Mr. Anderson’s treatise that offers hope for a solution. I noticed two common threads ran through each of the “classical” approaches to dealing with crime: the crime-ridden communities were broken by policies and attitudes of the greater community at large and the young black males were struggling to achieve economic and social prominence. What I gathered from this is that the system is broken, both in and around these communities, at every level (individual, family, local, county, state, federal, and industry). In addition, we have young black men wanting the same things all Americans have been encouraged to want, it’s just that the system that allows so many non-black Americans to achieve these ends have failed the young men black of the community.

So, to me, we’ve got to fix the system as a whole. We’ve got to fix our urban areas to be sure. Oh by the way, we’ve also got to fix the communities next to them—the ones with the million dollar homes who’s residents are either providing the drugs in bulk for our young men to sell, buying their drugs “in the hood”, running brothels from their homes, fostering hate in their homes, or are simply being victimized. They also have a problem. You see, we’re all interconnected and it really is “a small, small world.”

Now, how? Anderson favored what he called a Public Health Approach. Basically, he wanted to treat crime in “the hood” the same as a doctor would treat a patient to “change attitudes, knowledge, and behavior of offenders and victims of violence.” But for me, this was still to singularly dimensional. After all, what doctor would treat your pain without also trying to figure out how you injured yourself or ascertain what roles your environment plays in your illness? While Anderson’s was a good start, more is needed.

Since the system is broken down and must be fixed, it is only logical that comprehensive, INTERELLATED, and SYMBIOTIC measures must be taken to fix it. Government (at all levels), schools, the correctional system, industry, individuals, parents, and kids up to the date of this writing have largely been working to different ends—we must now all work together. To do this, we must all understand what is expected of us, what we need from each other, and how working together will benefit us. We must also do a better job of selling our ideas. For instance, schools and industry should be partnering together: industry must let all schools, in all “hoods” know what type of employee they require in the future, and kick in a little money and equipment to get them! Ever heard of Bill Gates? Gave schools money and his computers—they got great computers and educations; he got good employees and loyal users of his systems for years to come. Schools must then educate our children in a way that they can compete for the high-paying jobs of the future. Until know, we haven’t done this. America has relied on imports (Asians, Indians, Russians, etc.) for its talent. Now I ask you, how can the “leader” of the free world call itself a leader if it can’t even produce thinkers and creators? That’s why I believe we need someone who can help pull all these little fiefdoms together.

I believe we need more community organizers. I personally like the setup of many of the old cities up North have with the Aldermen system. But it doesn’t have to be a government official, it could be you! Interested? Here’s my job description for a community organizer: (1) Must know the people and communities, (2) The people know must know you, (3) Must be trusted by all stakeholders, (4) Must be an accomplished salesperson, (5) Must have superior people skills, (6) Organizational skills a must, and (7) High-energy, workaholic, extrovert, highly desired.

Know anyone like that?

1. Anderson, James F. “African-Americans, Violence, Disabilities, and Public Policy: A Call For A Workable Approach to Alleviating the Pains of Inner-City Life.” Western Journal of Black Studies Summer 1998;col1