HARNESSING POTENTIAL: HOW TO UTILIZE THE MINDS OF POOR COMMUNITIES

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“A dream deferred.”


the ghetto

America’s inner cities have long been known for crime and poverty. But they were not always like that in this country. At one point in time the neighborhoods were communities where even gangs weren’t the vigilant criminal element they are now. But what about the lost talent that exist in these environments? What about all the young people who had so much to give, but turned to an ugly way of life to survive? People who could have been CEO’s of multinational organizations turned to drugs and became kingpins.

untapped talent

The inner cities are famous for turning out countless athletes and entertainers. But what about the wave of engineers and business executives throughout the communities. Because when you look at a young man who turned to crime and managed to operate a $10 million to $100 million plus crime syndicate, imagine if that mind was cultivated for good. What could that same young become if he grew up in an environment like a Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Investing in the great mind of the youth could spur out an entirely new industry, or further grow an existing one.

who is capable of what

How do you know who is capable of what in life? And answer to that question is, you don’t know. It’s very hard to understand who has the skills to do what until they step into the real world. But the problem with so many young men and women in poor communities is that they get in  trouble before you can tap the talent. And the talent you see in the crime can’t be parlayed into something because they’re facing big jail time. So what you have to do is create better programs in these environments that will cultivate these great minds. Because the time they spend in jail could actually mean time spent building something great in America.


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GENERATION FRUSTRATION: WHY WE AS A YOUNG BLACK DEMOGRAPHIC CARRY SUCH ANGER

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“Where does it all come from?”


Ever see the crime rate in the inner cities throughout the country? You ever wonder where so much of this rage comes from? The frustrations comes from a multitude of issues in the community. It’s not just one thing to observe when trying to figure out why this exist. From the gun violence in the community to the rioting when the police shoot an innocent Black male. This rage comes from internal struggle as well as external struggles. But it’s not indicative of who we are as a people. The black community didn’t have these high crime rates during the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or even the 60’s. And this was a time period when we barely had rights in America. Well, what happened?

I’ll say the first issue that came about was actually a positive as well. That double edge sword was the Civil Rights Bills passed in the 1960’s. After this time period Black people had this sense of accomplishment. We felt like the work had been complete. Yet, during the Civil Rights Movement, we had our own communities. Black people had our own businesses, schools, hospitals, and social programs. That Black owned mind-frame shifted after the movement. We thought to ourselves, “Why all the Black stuff, we are free now.” Then, communities dried up as Black people left our urban environments to take solace in upper middle or upper class predominantly White neighborhoods. So money left the community, while at the same time spending was poured outward. Whereas in the past money was circulated through the community.

What happened next, coming into the 1970’s as money left, narcotics took hold. The combination of Heroine met Cocaine, led to high crime rates and bombed out buildings. Fatherless homes left Black women dependent on welfare. Which leads into my next reason for the rage. The lack of a co-parenting  situation that made the women both mother and father. Initially Black men were gone from the house for a few hours. Why, well the family needed money from the welfare system. Then hours to days, days to weeks, and then weeks to months. In no time fathers were gone, beginning to get hooked on drugs and alcohol, while women were the new leaders of the community. Now we have this pride in the woman doing it all, when in reality it takes more than just Black women to keep young Black men out of trouble.

Men and women have different skills, thought processes, and emotions. So it’s no wonder why Black women have had such a tough time raising children alone; especially connecting young Black males. So, with no help and forced to work long hours to provide for the family, more than ever the term latch key kid came into play. With her at work and no father around, young Black males turned to gangs as a means of creating bonds with each other they weren’t receiving at home. Gangs started battling for turf over other gangs which were predominantly Black, leading to an even higher crime rate than before. This time was known as the Crack Cocaine years of the 1980’s and 90’s. Which leads to the rage as well of a generation.

Drug trafficking was an issue coming from the 1960’s throughout the 70’s, but nothing was like Crack. Crack took communities deviations down to nothing. KKK were far removed from our communities, while we took over where they left off. Black women who could have been beauty pageant contestants were taken down by Crack. Hair matted on their heads, eyes blood shot red, skull caps & ripped t-shirts, bodily scares from syringe use and scratching, and diseases stemming from drug use. Women who could have been doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators, were taken down by drugs. Black males were dying and getting hit with conspiracy charges and sent to prison for decades, as well as life sentences.

Then the 1990’s came and went, leading into the 2000’s. After a few decades of mayhem, we felt through this past 90’s into the 2000’s this sense of accomplishment as well. But entertainment became bigger influences than ever. Hip Hop hit in the 90’s and early 2000’s, making these men bigger influences than the Civil Rights leaders of the past. And here is another aspect of the rage from young Black males and females. Our entertainment was now raising us, and we would base more and more off of tangibles then intangibles. Boys were more encouraged to be players and pimps than boyfriends and husbands. And Black women were prompted to chase after ballers over day-to-day working men. So now, pickings are slim because expectations became so unrealistic.

So the relationship between Black men and women was even more fragmented. Then in 2008, the United States elected its first Black president Barack H. Obama. Black people flocked to Washington D.C. from all across the country for his inauguration. That sense of accomplishment reemerged and for the past eight years, we felt success. He, a Noble Peace Prize winner, and his wife Michelle Obama was inspirational as well through her public persona. After they left the White House, people geared themselves for Hilary Clinton, the first woman. But the nation elected Donald J. Trump in the year 2016. A man who pulled no punches on how he spoke. Unapologetic and aggression was enough to make him president. And that feeling of hurt emerged from the Black community. Hate crimes rose and everything felt bleak.

And in the end, that’s the feeling of rage from the Black youth of today. We have constantly been told things are different, but don’t feel different. My millennial generation and generation Y were raised into a community of crime and poverty. We feel lied to and with a feeling of limited opportunities, the rage rises. But there is a flip side to the rage. Trump has also had an inverse effect in other ways. Consciousness among young twenty somethings have risen as well. We may be headed toward another Black Renaissance like that of 1930’s Harlem. So with all the anger and frustration, we need more and more consciousness, especially in this troubling time.