Name: Donnell Hicks
Title: Gangland: Save Our Young Black Men
Since the 1980’s the decade known to many as the “crack epidemic,” young black men who live in crime-ridden neighborhoods across the United States of America have belonged to different gangs or have involved themselves in some type of violent activity on the streets in the inner city neighborhoods. Violence and gangbanging have risen enormously in African-American communities due in part to their socioeconomic status. Factors such as rising unemployment and less social institutions that will give young black men a head start in their lives to decrease the rising violence such as murder, theft, and drug activity brought on by gangbanging also contribute to this problem.
Many young black men recognize their lives are in a downward spiral given the disadvantages of living in a crime-ridden neighborhood and the lack of positive role models to steer them away from trepidation. Without a positive male role model or a father figure in the household for these young black men to look up to, they will go out and find that comfort or that male influence, or they’ll look up to the leader of that particular gang to as a “father figure,” when they become members of a certain gang.
According to the University of Dayton, violence is the number one killer of children between the ages of 15-24 while the homicide rate for young male ages 15-24 is 21.9 per 100,000. On the same note, homicide rates for young black males are 85.6 per 100,000. The fact that 85.6 out of every 100,000 black males are being murdered each year is a very serious issue. This is the reality that is facing America right now today within the inner cities. In order to combat heavy violence and reduce the number of young black men putting themselves into gangs, politicians must do everything to insert social programs for young black men, including job training programs. The high demand for and implementation of more positive male role models, better paying jobs, and the need for more community centers can result in young black men spending less of their time on the street corners selling drugs or being murdered.
The top five lethal cities with the highest homicide rates are: Detroit, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, and Jacksonville (www.fivehomicidalcitiesinamerica.org). The correlation between poverty and violence is a well-established factor to those young black men who believe belonging in a gang and receiving fame and fortune is their way out of the ghetto without getting a good education or a decent job. Violence has become an epidemic as well as a major public issue.
Factors contributing to young black male violence are social isolation, drugs and alcohol consumption, no father figure in the household, low self-esteem, and media violence (which increases the likelihood for aggressive behavior). As African-Americans, we are facing a major reality issue when it comes to saving young black men from destroying their lives and their families forever. We must do better; these young black men are searching for father figures and more positive male influences to help them do better, even if they’re living in a poor neighborhood. This is a problem predominantly in the African-American communities amongst young black men – a problem that must be solved immediately. Like the old African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In other words it’ll take a conscience effort from everyone to SAVE OUR YOUNG BLACK MEN.