Thursday, October 01, 2009

No Country for Black Honor Students

Black Chicagoans stand by shaking their heads again after another week of senseless violence. The latest victim, 16 year old honor student Derrion Albert, was said to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that’s what they say about all young black boys that are murdered? This is the third case I have heard about in Chicago where a “good” kid was killed. Young black boys all at random places being killed by other young black boys. Boys getting killed coming out of church or going back and forth to school. Honor students are supposed to be the ones that stand above the fray. These are the students that want something more for themselves. They had plans and were working toward their goals. Now all their parent(s) have are dashed dreams.

What happens to a race when its brightest assets are murdered? What does it mean when our future lawyers, teachers, doctors, architects, engineers, scientists are murdered??? These murderers have decided that they are tired of killing rival gang members or people that they have a beef with. They have decided that everyone is now fair game. Either join them in the genocide or face a beat down or possibly worse. Between jail and getting killed in the streets it’s a wonder why Derrion wanted to study at all. The hopelessness of a race is being displayed on our streets everyday.

But who do we blame for this? It’s easy to throw blame on government as the usual suspect. But are they really to blame for the atrocities that are taking place in our cities?
Sure state and local governments could do a better job with providing employment, education, clean water, quality housing but then what? Providing resources won’t make someone work hard, take care of their property and be an overall better citizen. When the education system is discussed by my local city council they blame everyone but the parents. I guess they don’t want to upset possible voters. We have bad children in our schools because we have bad parents. People assume parenting is like riding a bike. A great deal of parental learning comes by trial and error. The rest naturally comes from the parents (grandparents by this stage). But when Grandma is single and 30 what can she really teach you?

It’s also sad that the only time you see black male honor students are when they’re getting a 2X4 upside their heads. It used to be that you couldn’t find news stories on our best and brightest. But if they are getting snuffed out, then why bother? When I was born, I never knew the males in my race were a dying breed.

I see my fellow black female bloggers’ complaining that black women don’t get a fair shake. That they are treated with disrespect and are devalued. No matter how Russell Simmons tries to spin it, black women are correct in their beliefs. Some black men have not done their jobs when it comes to protecting and providing for their women. Soon black women are going to start making black men their last option. They just don’t have time for black boys to stop killing one another.

I don’t want to make disparaging remarks about all black boys because that is not what this is about. Black boys go off to college every year and graduate becoming young men. They have moderate – highly successful lives without any dealings with prisons or gangs. Then you have the Derrion Alberts 0f our breed. Potential not fully realized because of horrible acts by people that look like their victims. Or maybe the perpetrators should be called animals? That might be disrespectful because farm animals have the common sense not to murder in cold blood. Possibly they could be wild animals? Raised in an animalistic environment that is full of hostility. You know the type I’m talking about. These days even black folks move to the other side of the street when they see young black boys coming. What does it mean when you are afraid of your own race?

This senseless violence has been going on for along time and we sighed – shed a tear and gone on with our business. We have set up memorials and made t-shirts with the faces of the deceased. And someone would always say “it’s just gangs, let them kill themselves.” Well the violence is now spilling over into a collateral damage stage. So the question becomes this – if we can’t save the bad ones and we can’t save the good ones, who can we save?


msladydeborah said...

You are one among many who have raised some excellent food for thought in your post on the subject of Black on Black murder.

We'd better use the available talented tenth to work on saving the upcoming talented tenth. I use to shun this particular phrase. I always thought that it was limiting to our potential. Now, that I've lived life for awhile,it is beginning to make sense to me. Because there is definitely a portion of our race that we are seeminly cut off from.

Whatever the answer is-we need to get busy and work on the solution. This has got to stop.

Citizen Ojo said...

Msladydeborah - Thank you very much. The Talented Tenth is real. Whether people like to hear it or not. Every race has them. Our business is just out for everyone to see.

uglyblackjohn said...

This is a tough one.

When I was kid, we had a lot of ideas on how to best prepare the Talented Tenth.

One was to place two or three in every classroom, thinking that these two or three students could help and improve the other students.
The other students did do better but the Talented Tenth were hindered from their full potential.

Another idea was to separate the TT into one classroom where they could compete against the best of all students.
All of the TT students did well but the rest of the school suffered.

The problem is; which is the best solution?

Monie said...


"These days even black folks move to the other side of the street when they see young black boys coming. What does it mean when you are afraid of your own race?"

It's not Black kids walking down the street that scare me it's Black kids who dress like thugs that make me cross the street.

Also I totally agree that Black students who do well are invisible. Mostly that's due to the media narratives about Black students. When the media wants to show examples of failing students it's always Black students that they feature.

If they want good students then it's White kids.

And if they want to feature brilliant students it's of course Asian kids they show.

Eventually you have to wonder if many White and Asian kids do well simply because this society expects them too and if many Black kids do poorly because they are expected to.

Also and finally why is it that we, Black people, allow the least among us to be the examples of who we are?

Yeah those thugs who killed this kid are evil but are they really representative of the whole?

Citizen Ojo said...

OneChele - I think black folks have always had class tension but today it's on a whole new level. When I was in high school if you studied to hard it was seen as trying to fit in with white folks. Yes, an occassional teasing would go along with that. That was in the late 80's. It's early 2000 and people are saying the same thing. This time though you could get shot for it. We can't have a discussion because one side doesn't understand that to improve their situation they must do the things that are considered "not black". Even though that sounds ignorant as can be how do you teach that?

Citizen Ojo said...

UglyBlackJohn - This is where we find ourselves at the crossroads. Is the obvious answer looking us in the face but we don't want to say it? What is the law of the jungle? Only those that are STRONGER and those that can ADAPT will survive. Why as humans are we any different?

Citizen Ojo said...

Monie - When my cousin worked for the bank he wore business casual to work. White Women would still clutch their purses in the elevator. We are past the stage of clothes in this debate. It's the skin color that frightens people. One time I was leaving the grocery store carrying heavy bags and a White Woman locked her car door when I came by. The content of my bags cost more than your little bag but I'm go to rob you?

You are right that the MSM has assigned different races their life expectations but we can't let the media tell our narrative. It all starts at home.

And to why the least among us are always made to be the standard. When you don't have ownership in how your image is portrayed then that is what happens. BET sold their soul to the devil along time ago. The Black Family Channel Folded (which by the way had some good programs) All we have left is TVOne. But as I have mentioned more people watched BET than The Black Family Channel. We have to support the entities that are showing our positive images because the MSM is not going to.

PPR_Scribe said...

Let me throw one more log in the fire.

Since this case hit I have been hearing a lot about "Black honor students." One thing that has shocked me in working with young people is how many Black (and Hispanic) "honor" students graduating from inner city schools seem to have received that standing mostly on the basis of their upstanding behavior. And/or--they may have straight As, but it turns out they are woefully unprepared academically when they get to the next level.

Where they may have been in debate club led by a dedicated English teacher with a book on debating willing to stay after school, their peers have had debate sponsors who are practicing trial attorneys or former national debating champs. Where they have taken all two of their school's advanced placement classes, they are competing against kids who have taken 5 or 6.

This is not to disparage the majority of inner city schools, teachers or students and I definitely do not mean to denigrate this young man. But we need to remember that even our "best and brightest" are often still greatly disadvantaged when it comes to the folks with whom they will be competing after they leave high school.

It is sad to see some of these kids give up in college because, where before they made an easy A, now they are struggling to maintain a D in the same subject. These kids need our help and policy attention as much as the "under performing" kids do.

Black Diaspora said...

"[I]f we can’t save the bad ones and we can’t save the good ones, who can we save?"

Your question still lingers in the air, even if it's cyberair.

We salvage what we can. We use the opportunity to say what might have been had it gone better.

The biggest mistake we can make is to forget Derrion. It's my understanding that his makeshift shrine has been destroyed. I can't corroborate that.

We need to set aside a place in the community as a remembrance center, where the pictures and the aspirations of those fallen young black men and women might be seen, and appreciated, and the situation around their death detailed.

One more thing: Something need to be done in the community where Derrion fell, something positive and constructive to commemorate his life and deeds.

The whole community need to involve itself. In short, plant a flower, or a tree (not literally necessarily), amidst the weeds of a life cut short.

A flame must be lit, and kept burning for Derrion and all the others who have met similar fates.

We owe them, and ourselves, not to forget.

Citizen Ojo said...

PPR_Scribe - Yes, I have heard that before. Black students doing well in schools and going away to college and not being able to compete. I know people that went away to college to be scientists and ended up with marketing, teaching degrees. Equality in education means that every student has the same resources whether they are in the "Hills" or in the "Hood". Public Education is stressed at the seems. Even in some of our "burbs" the quality of education is not what it should be. Most of these kids will not know they don't measure up until they hit college. Quite a sad affair.

Citizen Ojo said...

Black Diaspora - Thanks for stopping by. I hear the passion in your words but there still is that pesky problem. "How do you get a community to care about the people in the community." How do you get parents to responsible? How do you get people to turn in the people on their block that are involved in illegal activities? How do you teach a child how to solve their problems without violence? It seems the only way to "salvage" what we can is to take those individuals and move them out of their environments. Therefore you leave everyone else to their own devices? There have been so many murders since last year that they can't take time out to remember one person. Remember they have been killing folks for awhile in Chicago. Last week their dirty laundry was put on blast. This is nothing new to them. These communities are filled with Rival Gangs. How do you get them to work together? Saving who you can looks easier by the minute.

KST said...

I'm so torn on this one...This case is awful and it shines a light on children and violence. The problem I have with the blogosphere going crazy on this(it should) is what we are focusing on. Can we discuss the mob mentality behind this? Can we also discuss the videotaped hazing of white kids that have been on "The Today Show" and "GMA" where we have seen white teenage girls stomping on each other?

Black on black crime is a serious issue and as a parent I cannot imagine the pain and rage this child's family members are feeling. The pure horror of knowing that their baby's death is public viewing.

What I would like to see is the same amount of outrage shown over the every day slaughter of our children in the streets that is NOT on YouTube. We get pissed when it smacks us in the face, but not when can easily turn the page, click to the next screen, flip to the next channel when one kid shot over lord knows what - several times a day. Everyday.

Citizen Ojo said...

KST - You are correct!!! We know about this situation because it was on the news. But how can a blogger in Columbia, South Carolina know about an issue in Flint Michigan if it's not covered by the media (any media not just mainstream) It might help if we have a network of bloggers set up in different cities. But other than that we can only report what we know.