What Happened to Responsibility and Ownership?
Change We Need to Create Ourselves
By Raymond Courtney (Amuaru Cort-El)
It is time to make a change! Would you die in order to live or will you continue to live to die? Our communities, our culture, and personal life-styles have been and continue to be manipulated by a “system” that was established to keep us pacified, intimidate, and oppressed. In fact, the way we think or the things we eat or the attitudes we harbor against each other is contributing to our destruction. Its 2009, yet and still, we are statistically below average in regards to owning property and businesses, pursuing higher education, and etc.; but we are overwhelmingly the most incarcerated, the most affected with the HIV and AIDS viruses, and etc. The lists of stats that depict are standards are extremely problematic. We cannot afford to wait for Obama’s “change” to occur. Even-though we helped elect a black president, however, the government does not favor us. For example, the FBI constructed cointelpro (counter intelligence program) to dismantle organizations that were elevating our community and our life-styles in the past. Currently, they are dissecting funds from our education, after school programs, and other institution that divert us away from a life of crime. Their hidden agenda to seek our demise is deeper than a few sentences. But we must persist to attempt to make changes ourselves. I propose that we unite and amplify our communities like the Black Panthers once achieved, stop the “black on black crime”, and set all sections of education as our main priority. As I eagerly pursue higher education, I understand the dangers we face, as did Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and others who tried to compete against the “system”. The dangers we need to be more concerned with consist of: a decreasing population, but a higher incarceration and poverty rate; and general lack of understanding and care for each other.
There is a great lack of ownership amongst the black community. Lack of Ownership means lack of income-earning resources and organized enterprises to create jobs. Consequently, any group not owning business and financial capital becomes dependent on others (the government). Regardless of the accomplishments African-Americans have achieved in the last decade, we still trail our Caucasian counterparts in reference to home ownership. “According to the Census Bureau, the homeownership rate for Black heads of household is 47.3 percent, compared to 75.2 percent for White heads of household” (Oliver, pg.17). The reason the margin between black and white homeownership is so large is due to banks declining “minorities” for home loans. “Blacks are still 60 percent more likely than Whites to be turned down for a home loan, even after controlling for financial, employment and neighborhood factors” (Oliver, pg.18). Bankters (bank gangsters) will continue to be discriminative with the money they loan out. Therefore, the will be subdued to renting and leasing homes and apartments.
In addition to lack of ownership, most of the public schools we attend are old and in need of renovation. They also contain undedicated teachers and insufficient study materials. Ultimately, children that are affected by schools with study material shortages will develop premature reading and writing skills. Lack of studying resources will guarantee that a child’s academic progress will gradually descend. Sub-par reading and writing skills produces poor grades and attitudes towards education in general. Compared to any other “race” in this country, African-Americans have the highest rates for low academic test scores and drop-outs. “African-American students often have lower test scores than white students at all levels of education” (Bali, pg.1). As of now, African-Americans make up only 5% of the University of Southern California’s (USC) student population. Without proper education, “minorities” won’t be able to attain prestigious positions (scientists or doctors or businessman). Therefore, careers will be ignored and regular will jobs will be more considerate to us.
Not only are the lack of ownership and failing schools systems, our communities are not safe places to reside in. Our neighborhoods are infested with gangs that are at war with each other. Also, a person that’s not a gang member or gang affiliated may become a victim to gang terror. Initially, gang members targeted other gang members. In the book Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, by Sanyika Shakur, he states to himself, “I looked at my enemy and thought, Tonight is the night and I’ll never stop until I kill them all” (11). When Sanyika Shakur was an adolescence, he murdered other teenagers who were misguided and lacked proper direction like him. “Black on black crime” is simply ignorance. African-Americans are literally exterminating themselves. I have lost several friends to gang warfare. Our brothers, fathers, and friends are fighting a war that’s not going to better our community; however, it will continue to destroy and weaken it.
As I address the problems in our community (Lack of ownership, inadequate interest in school, and black on black crime), it is evident that the children are the main ones affected by our unfortunate circumstances. The youth is the future preservers of our existence. Our children emulate what they perceive to be natural and valuable to them. They hold on to our every word, they are very observing, and they look up to us. Morals or values or beliefs are very essential to their mental development. Therefore, we have to be more conscious with the way we program our children. We have to lead by example and attempt to subdue issues we face in order to reduce the burden our children may have to figure out by themselves. It has been proven that environmental factors contribute to the achievement or failure of a subject. “Latimer, the author of Higher Ground: Preparing African-American Children for College, and her husband, have provided a stable loving family environment for both of their sons” (Valentine, p.3). We must create suitable environment for our kids.
We must unite the gangs (youth) in our community! It will take the community achieve this goal. We can do this by harnessing and redirecting their attitudes, anger, and frustration. They are trying to attract our attention. They feel no one cares about them especially their “own” people. Therefore, every man and woman has to eagerly invest more interest in our youth. We can lead them away from the wrong interpretation of a thug life (robber or murderer) and enlighten them on the apodictic essence of a thug life (when you have nothing, and succeed, when you have overcome all obstacles to reach your aim). Mentors are a necessity. People have work diligently to secure prestigious careers in our community must infiltrate gangs in order to illustrate other ways to gain sources of income rather than robbing, killing, or sell drugs. Also, we need to post an influx of symbolical messages and images through-out or community depicting “black on black crime” as an unforgivable sin. Those images would show Crips and Bloods working together to solve a singular problem.
Proper education is the most important asset a person can attain. Most of us that lack interest in pursuing higher education have to broaden our perspective, and realize that common jobs are not the out of our social and financial disparities, But the people that conceptualize a brighter future through education reach a point where their goals are demolished due to a lack of funds to attend prestigious schools. Therefore our community must invest and establish education development funds for the youth we produce. “Tyrone, the Moose from Nickelodeon’s Emmy award-wining show, The Backyardians, was encouraged by his parents to take some of the money from his acting job and put it back into the community” (Atufunwa 164). Our youth is our future so we should invest in a better future. In order for things to change, we have to show the kids we believe in them. We can orchestrate fund drives scholarships, and trust funds that are funded by the community. As we do that more of our children would be able to educate themselves. When they succeed, the cycle will continue, and we can change our position in this society in a few generations.
If we unite the gangs’ neighborhoods, and invest our time, our money, our love in our community, many things would change. Gang-members would view their territorial counterparts as brothers instead of enemies. There would be a decline in “black on black crime”, the incarceration rate would steadily decrease, and fewer drugs would circulate through our neighborhoods. Also, with newly formed unity, we can uncover the hidden agenda that exist to seek our demise, and address the problems accordingly. Plus, the kids we invest in will be able to perceive their ambitions as accomplishable goals and not dreams that may not come true. The graduation rate would increase, and more kids will seek to invade colleges that they may have thought would offer them admission in the school.
I have the ability to acknowledge the power of an investment; however, others may not agree with the options for change I previously discussed. Some people may believe that gang-members will continue to involve themselves in lives of crime regardless of the help you offer them. “Gangs are perpetuated by a cycle of despair that is nearly impossible to break, as they capitalize on the public’s seemingly endless demand for drugs while protecting their business with brutal, often indiscriminate, violence” (Kingsbury 33-36).
The people who may disagree with the solution I proposed to attack our problem may feel that the government will assist us or even solve our social and financial disparities, so no action is necessary. “African-Americans are wrong about the government and its purpose. Government cannot make blacks successful or prosperous” (Robinson 16). These types of people are dangerous to our community, because they have become extremely dependent on the government. “African-Americans have been taught early on that government works” (Robinson 16). These types of people who want to see change instead of doing something to accomplish change themselves. The government has had a poor effect on our community. With the current economic decline, institutions are being attacked that has an influence on our progression. Schools, jobs, and government aid are being cut out of the budget. That’s why it is overwhelmingly vital that we focus on the issues at hand, and reject the government’s minute assistance they grant, and unite.
If we make the change ourselves, we would thrive to live rather than continue to thrive to die. Our communities, our culture, and our personal life-styles would demolish a “system” that was established to keep us pacified, intimidated, and oppressed. Then, the way we think or the things we eat or the attitudes we harbor against each other would contribute to the healing of our communities. By the end of the century, we should show drastic change and develop statistically in regards to owning property and businesses, pursuing higher education, and etc. Then we would overwhelmingly decrease from being the most incarcerated, the most affected with the HIV/AIDS viruses, and etc. The list of stat that depicts our standards should be encouraging and uplifting. We would not need the government for anything. Our school programs and other institutions would divert us away from a life of crime. We must be persistent and make changes ourselves. My proposal would unite and amplify our communities like the Black Panthers once achieved, stop the “black on black crime”. “I have the people behind me and the people are my strength” (Newton). If we empower ourselves, we wouldn’t have to be concerned with decreasing population, higher incarceration and poverty rate, and general lack of understanding and care for each other.
Allender, David “Confronting Gangs: Crime and the Community (Book).” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 72.2 (2003): 17-18. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web 22 Nov. 2009.
Atufunwa, Benice “Voice of Reason.” Black Enterprise 39.11 (2009): 164. Academic Search Elite EBSCO. Web 22 Nov. 2009.
Bali, Valentina A., and R Alvarez "Schools and Educational Outcomes: What Causes the “Race Gap” in Student Test Scores? <sup>*</sup>." Social Science Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing Limited) 84.3 (2003): 485-507. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 17 Nov. 2009.
Kingsbury, Alex “The War on Gangs.” U.S. News & World Report 145.13 (2008): 33-36 Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 17 Nov. 2009.
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Shakur, Sanyika. Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member. New York: Atlantic Monthly P, 1993.
Valentine, Victoria L. "Children Are Our Future." Crisis (15591573) 110.6 (2003): 4. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 22 Nov. 2009.