View From Here: Don't Blame the Young People

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Positive male mentoring programs, such as this computer lab, would be cut by the city.

The saying is that the youth are future, and if that is so then our future is grim. Because what we are allowing to happen to our young people is little short of genocide. They are being demonized, short-funded, poorly educated, unfathered, unenriched and left to have their training in life come from the streets. And they are pummeled and blamed for being the cause of the mayhem that is being perpetrated on them.

 

One example was in a recent Daily News Op Ed, where Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gave a class in how statistics can be made to tell a perfectly reasonable lie.

 

He shows with detailed numbers how stop-and-frisk has taken away guns and prevented gun deaths, but he is oblivious to the understanding that he has removed the guns but not the rage of a dream that can never be, a rage that continues to express itself in domestic violence and antisocial behavior.

 

What else could be expected from education and social systems that deliver a 50% dropout rate and when the schools do work, they graduate too many students unprepared for the world in general and certainly unprepared for what Brooklyn has become: a magnet for the most ambitious, aggressive and creative people from around the planet, and this is the competition they have to face in an environment of systemic racism and from a position of poverty.

 

Parents whose only source of income is the EBT card, have little or no cash to control and this does not help when raising children in this consumer-driven society. And because of the lack of enriching places for development, and the lack of jobs, businesses and careers to look forward to, the streets lead their children elsewhere, to the underground cash economy.

 

And as a result, Joseph Williams from the Christian Association for Prison Aftercare, writes, “I would say that in this country it would be hard to argue that there is not a relationship between crime and poverty. Poor people make up the overwhelming majority of those behind bars as 53% of those in prison earned less than $10,000 per year before incarceration.”

 

And when you’re in a neighborhood with demographics at 25-50%+ unemployment, it is not surprising that there is an increase in robberies and violence. There used to be a saying in the black community that the really smart people were in jail. Anecdotes like that ring true, because creative, ambitious and aggressive young people, who would be forming companies and creating value in the community given an opportunity, go into the omnipresent drug business at a level where they are easily arrested, labeled and sentenced to a life of a third-class citizen, a person with “a record.”

 

And yet we all know that whatever violence happens the city will spend whatever is needed to “bring the situation under control.” More police watchtowers, helicopters and mobile command and mounted units will be brought in to “restore order” but I don’t think anyone should feel any safer.

 

If we want to have a chance at a safe and productive summer, there should be a clamorous roar from across the city that job programs be a first priority and that these centers remain open and given staffing for expanded hours and programming. We have to save these generations.