Well, unfortunately I feel compelled to talk about the subject of violence today. With the constant murders in Chicago—and the fact that today is the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination—I must.
President Obama visited his adopted hometown of Chicago a week ago to address the relentless violence that took 535 lives in 2012.
In his remarks, he spoke about how he quote-unquote “screwed up” as a youth just like a number of the young black men in the audience but the difference was that he had more of a “safety net” there to catch him. He went on to say he was no different from them, and that what was different were the consequences young black men suffer today.
You know we often talk about crime and punishment, but how about punishment and crime? I mean, isn’t crime a result of subjecting children to a punishing environment where they feel they have no hope, no value, no chance at success, or even adulthood?
Before they are even old enough to think about committing a crime or, God forbid, taking a life, aren’t many being punished for being poor, being from a single-parent family, or being in constant survival mode?
You see, it’s easy to be ‘tough on crime’ and big on punishment. But if we were truly tough on crime, wouldn’t it be better to stop punishing our youth before they commit a crime in the first place?
Wouldn’t it be better to raise the minimum wage so more families could have a chance at reclaiming some small sense of stability? Wouldn’t it make more sense to end punitive and destructive educational policies like high-stakes testing that continue to leave our children behind? Wouldn’t it be smart to adopt policies that give all children access to quality pre-school and child care regardless of income or location?
And yet, after literally punishing children all the way through their formative years, we actually wonder why they resort to crime, drugs, gangs, and sadly, murder.
I’m well aware that there are nuances about the Chicago situation contributing to its insane murder rates, but this does not minimize my point. As a society, we spend a lot of time punishing children from the day they are born for things they have no control over; their family income, their parents or lack thereof, their skin color.
An environment of undeserved punishment is a breeding ground for bad things to happen, including the violence plaguing the Windy City.
Like our President, I can’t offer you one particular action item to go do and make the situation in Chicago or anywhere else better. But I can challenge you to challenge any policy that punishes our children unnecessarily and undermines their life chances.
Frederick Douglass was right when he said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25