Commentary: Breakdown Of The Family Is Destroying Black Community
Posted: 4:13 pm CDT August 11, 2011
By Derrell Connor
Special To Channel 3000
I am fed up.
I’m tired of watching too many of our black youth behave like they don’t possess any common sense. I’m not just talking about the incident at the Wisconsin State Fair last week, where mobs of young black teens harassed, intimidated and attacked fairgoers.
I’m talking about the increasing level of violence and lawlessness that has gone on in Milwaukee and has spread to Madison. I’m tired of stories after stories of young black men involved in criminal activity.
Please spare me the speeches about poverty, about how black youth are just misunderstood, or about the lack of opportunity in parts of the black community — and most of all, how racism has contributed to why some have chosen to behave in this manner. I’m not buying it. Millions of black youth have grown up in some of the most disadvantaged surroundings possible without resorting to this type of behavior. When I was a kid, I certainly wasn’t perfect. But if I were ever caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing, I would have felt the wrath of a very angry mother when I got home.
What’s been happening in Milwaukee recently as well as in other cities around the country have nothing to do with racism. Unfortunately, there is a subsection of the black community that has no regard for other people, the law and themselves. And they and their parents are to blame.
The breakdown of the family is destroying the black community. We have allowed too many of our youth to run the streets unsupervised, with no discipline, no direction and no hope. Too many “fathers” have decided that the responsibility of raising their kids gets in the way of other selfish endeavors, so they become absent, leaving mothers to raise children alone. Many of these kids, thanks to strong mothers and positive influences like teachers and mentors, turn out to be positive, hardworking, law-abiding contributors to society. But sadly, many black youth, especially young boys, are raised on the streets. They’re not taught personal responsibility for their behavior, and as a result they end up in the criminal justice system.
Too many of our so-called black leaders have failed to address this issue, instead choosing to run to every television camera they can get in front of, repeating the same old talking points about institutionalized racism. It’s an insult to every single black man and woman who sacrificed his or her life to make ours better. They faced more racism than you or I can ever imagine. And this is how we repay them? By letting kids believe that there are no consequences for their actions as long as you can blame it on the white man and racism? By allowing too many young black men and women to believe that there’s more value in serving time than getting an education? And instead of supporting those who stand up and speak out on the issue (Bill Cosby), we criticize them for airing out “dirty laundry.” Well the secret is out, and it’s not pretty. And it has to stop.
There is no doubt that a permanent black underclass has existed in Milwaukee and all over America for years, and the issue has never been fully addressed by politicians or civil rights leaders. But nothing justifies this type of behavior. In fact, once these thugs are caught, they and their parents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Maybe that will start to send a message that we are done dealing with what they have failed to do.
I think that it’s important to mention that there are many black people in Wisconsin and around the country that are on the front lines every single day doing great work with black youth. There are those who work with adults on how to be better parents. There are many organizations like the Urban League and 100 Black Men who are teaching people about the value of getting an education, economic development and empowerment. Those are the people and groups that all of us need to rally around. They need our support. They will always have a platform in this column and on my radio show.
As for the thugs and those that continue to make excuses for them, save it. No one’s listening anymore.
Derrell Connor works in the insurance industry in Madison and hosts a weekly radio show on WIBA AM. His column will run the second and fourth Thursday of the month on Channel 3000.