INNER CITY GOLD: WHY INVESTING IN THE COMMUNITY IS WORTH THE DOLLAR

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“Making out or make it out of something.”


Growing up in the inner city, you have these goals of what most would say, “Making it out the hood.” But have you ever stopped to think to make the hood out of something good? And why do so many of us as African Americans attain wealth and then flee these poor environments. Well, for starters, it has to do with how anyone else in America growing up with humble beginnings views this country. You want to have that American dream: the colonial style house, two car garage, the boy and girl, the cat and dog, with the husband and wife. This image has been the face of our nation for so long, that is the foundation for what is considered the good life. Another reason Black people seek to make it out the ghettos of America is because of the disproportionate numbers of violent crime that exist in the community.

What’s crazy about the numbers of crime is that the criminal element only constitutes a small percent of the community; maybe less than 10% of the total population. So even in low income housing projects, you might have a population of 2,500 to well over 5,000 in some housing developments. And the criminal element is between 5% – 7%, maybe in some places 10%. So you’re talking 125 -175 people in the low populated housing, and 250 – 350 in the high populated projects that are the worst of the worst. So something so small becomes major when living in these environments; and on top of it all poverty. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster in a community. Yet, is there anything that is of salvageable value that is in the community so that it can be uplifted from poverty. Because right now, you have a lot of people living so much off the tax payers dime.

And the answer is yes, there is something of value that is salvageable; the children. Yes, that’s right, the kids. Investing in the future generations is a great way to change the landscape of any poor community. Because once you invest in the minds of the young, they will have it hard-wired in their minds the intellectual capital to build and reshape a community. We say in the community that we need jobs, but if you invest in the young, that will get built. There is this place in Harlem called the Harriet Tubman Learning Center that caters to the community as a school. Schools like this or the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy built in the neighborhood base around aiding poverty stricken families with workshops for parents learning facilities for children. These places are based around cultivating learning in a young generation which will re-contextualize the way they see society.

And when your mind opens up to changes and all the possibilities you can’t go back to what you used to know. In the end, you always hear what can the government do to fix issues in the community, and that really is nothing much. Yes, there are still kids who go to public schools that are underfunded and overpopulated that could use help. But a lot of the major problems has to be something that starts internal. The community has to figure out a way to deal because Black people are $2 – $3 trillion of America’s economy. The fact that our communities are in the shape they’re in yet we have some of the top spending power in the world is beyond me. #FUTUREGENERATIONS


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GANGS CULTURE: WHY WE JOIN


“Have you ever sought to belong to something?”


Growing up in an urban community, gangs are all around you. But most importantly, the psychology behind gangs are just dangerous as the criminal activity associated with the gang. And when I say psychological, I mean why young people join gangs to the construct of the gang itself. The control factors of the gang is more stringent than a day to day job. And the danger is a lot higher. So why are so many young people willing to join. Well, let’s look more at the psychological ramifications of joining a gang. And one of things is observing the need to belong.

There are so many young people in our society with a need to belong to something. It’s also the reason we see a rise in the youth fighting online. Everyday you see a video posted on social media of some fist fight. The need for attention and the need to belong no matter how gruesome the actions. This why gangs don’t even have to recruit anymore. There is a multitude of young people running to the gangs. So how do you fix this problem? Because even though young people want to belong, there are other reasons for joining as well. Another issue that leads to gang initiation is lack of structure.

Too often, young people don’t have structure at home. Youth who have home structure are far less likely to join a gang. As a matter of fact, gangs are more strict than home life. So if you have the ability to follow the rules of a gang, you can follow rules of society.

But why, why is it so hard for these individuals to follow what is actually more strict? Abiding by the law requires you to think a certain way. You have to look inside and go I am the problem. Gangs allow you to transfer responsibility to someone else. My enemy is in my way. They are the ones keeping me from attaining what I want in life. So you commit an act of violence because you think it makes you admirable, but it shows a complete lack of accountability. But when the people around you cosign your actions, then you will never learn. Not until it is too late.

In the end, what do we do? How do we make young people see that defining your entire existence in this one moment is not worth it. What if the Bloods, Crips, Vice Lords, Gangsta Disciples, and Latin Kings were community based organizations? Organizations that recruited young boys who don’t have a family and turn them into productive members of society. Our communities would be far less dangerous, and it would create a generation of great young minds. But as long as young people see gangs as the only way out, we will always see a sharp rise in crime and prison populations increasing as well.


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A PEOPLE IN PERIL: HOW WELFARE HURT BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

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“Do we really need it?”

For the past few decades, the African American community have depended upon the welfare system from the United States government. But this welfare has come at the expense of the taxpayers. Now, don’t get me wrong, population wise, more Whites are on welfare than Black people. But the percentage of our group on welfare is problematic. So the percentages relative to the group is much higher for us. My question is how long will it last? How long will America continue to open its hands to giving and giving. And yet, what is coming of all this giving. How many people actually break away and become successful. Better yet, how many people break out of the grips of the welfare system all-together.

For me, growing up in a single parent household, my mother was temporarily on welfare. The moment she made half decent money she was done. I didn’t understand as a child until I became an adult the problem with the system. To a lot of struggling mothers it’s a way to feed your children. But to me it became a systemic construct that your child could almost never break out of in America. Children born into the a welfare household have higher chances of breaking the law and going to jail. Children born into welfare homes also are more likely to repeat the cycle of their mother. Is it something written in the policy? No, it’s the unwritten implications. The unwritten that has to do with rewards for a father not being present.

To a woman, she’s receiving the money because she need to feed her children. But when you really look at it, it’s a check for a father not being present. So now, we will finance your cost of living, but he can’t be present. Which in reality, just because a man is there, does not mean the family is going to live fine. There are plenty of families where two incomes come into the household and they struggle. So the idea that a man, even though on average make more than women, can justify a family not needing help is ridiculous. Welfare should be based around the family, not having more and more children with a financial payment for every kid you have. Now look what it breeds in the long run.

It breeds a few problems in society. Number one, it creates a lack of accountability on behalf of the man and woman. He says why should I contribute, the government will take care of her. And she goes, I don’t need him, the system will give me a check. And the children grow to see there is this quick route. A route that will eventually run out because in the long term the system cannot sustain welfare. Another problem from welfare is that people depend on the benevolence of an ever changing system. Meaning, Black people have spent more time in America without government assistance than with it. Why are we now operating as if a government cares when it has not used capital to build infrastructure so you won’t need their assistance?

Now, you might say, hey we need it. But do we really? The original Africans were brought to America as indentured servants in the 1610’s. Soon after came the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Large scale buying and selling of Black people like commodities, coming from Africa to the Americas. Tribes of people who didn’t speak the language of the person to the left or to the right of them. But we made the journey and survived the next few hundred years. We survived another nearly 100 years of Jim Crow South. Back to back to back drug epidemics, poor education with a lack of educational opportunities and rejection from institutions across the country, police brutality, poor access to healthcare facilities, lack of employment opportunities, and discrimination in housing. So to think that welfare, if stopped will be the death of us, is preposterous. We survived all of that, we can beat this as well.

In the end, the problem is the system, not the people. The system says we are helping, but there will come a time it will stop. And it won’t be gradual, but swift and immediate. Then generations will be left destitute from depending on a systematic policy that had no intentions on helping in the first place. We have to be willing to turn away now. Go through the initial bad days, but it will work itself out in the long run. Because sooner or later, the gravy train of checks for your tots will run its course. And if no progress has been made from a community to prepare ourselves, we’ll be worse off than prior generations of overt racial segregation and societal ostracism.

HOOP DREAMS: WHY SPORTS IS THE TICKET FOR BLACK MALES

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“A gone make it!”

“With the number one pick, of the NBA/NFL draft, the ________ select _______ of the University of ________.” These are the words young boys dream of hearing as we prepare to walk that stage, receiving that hat from the commissioner. Then soon after, celebrating with family as we bask in the glory of making to the league. Our dreams have come true and we can start our career. Now these are the experiences the very few will get a chance to see. As for the rest, it is just a dream which will never come true. But is that really the end. I mean with so many young boys dreaming and only a limited amount of space, only a chosen few will get a chance to even get drafted. Even fewer will play and fewer will have lengthy careers.

But why, why are so many Black males wrapped up in the idea that sports is the way out of poverty. There use to be a lyric in hip hop artist Notorious B.I.G. rhymes, “You either slangin rocks or got a killer jump shot.” Could it be that we aspire to play ball because so many Black men are in the league that we see. Black men are in other career fields, but these are the public figures we see. And we only want to be the men we see and seek to become who we see as making big in their careers. There are Black doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, but we want to be the ball player. But could it all be about seeing these men. What about income?

Income has caught the attention of so many Black boys because what other career is this lucrative this young. Name any other profession where a 19 to 22 year old could become an overnight millionaire. Especially a young Black man from an inner city neighborhood. The only guys that age with a lot of money are the drug dealers. It’s one of the reasons we purchase the items we do once we get money, almost as a homage to these guys. We also think that money will fix so many of our problems that we try to escape from when we were poor. But why is sports so shoved down the throats of Black boys. Even with knowing the majority won’t go pro.

One of the reasons is that winning high school games makes the school and coach look good. So Black males have dreams pumped into their heads about being the next Jordan or Kobe or Lebron. Yet no one is telling Black boys to focus on more academics. In today’s society the idea of a college degree is thrown our way. But you don’t need basketball/football to go to college. So academics take a backseat to sports. And what happens, so many Black boys read at levels that kids half their age are reading. Which leads to so many Black males majoring in communications once we get to college. It’s one the easiest, yet one the most vague degrees in school.

In the end, we are pushed to play sports because no one expects you to do anything else. Young White males are not pumped up with sports on a daily basis. Plus, we are also inundated with constant images of successful White men in other career fields. As a matter of fact, the entire Forbes rich list are comprised with majority White males. To White guys, sports is fun, as a career objective, there are fewer. Young Black boys should be exposed to more as children to know more is out there. That’s why Barack Obama played such a pivotal role in the image of Black males. Now more than ever politics is an attractive career path for Black males. An environment which will effect Black males more than any athlete can effect change.