In Youth’s Violent Game of “Knockout,” There Are No Winners

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Black Americans should be as collectively outraged by the “Knockout Game,” as we were about Trayvon Martin’s death.

A few months ago, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old were charged with murdering a New Jersey homeless man during the “Knockout Game.” This summer, Elex Murphy, a young black man, was sentenced to 55 years in prison for killing a 72-year-old businessman during the game. And last week, a 27-year-old victim walking in Washington, D.C. was punched in the head when a group of about eight men on bikes rode up behind her.

Some social science experts blame this vicious culture on the proliferation of violent video games; others suggest that bad parenting is responsible as well as poverty and budget cuts for after-school programs. And some faith leaders say many of our young black men need God in their lives.

The “Knockout Game” reminds me of those urban legend stories I heard growing up in Detroit when black gangs reportedly performed a deadly initiation ritual where they would drive around the city at night with their headlights off and when conscientious and unsuspecting motorists would flash their headlights to alert the driver, the gang members would follow those motorists – and kill them. So is history repeating itself?

Today, while watching real-life CBS video footage of the “Knockout Game,” I was stuck by the callousness of six young black men who celebrated knocking a man to the ground and leaving him lying on the pavement unconscious, without a second thought.

They took pride in the punch as they walked away. There is an emotional disconnect – sort of a numbness — among some of our young black men that is extremely disturbing.

They just don’t care.

Just so you know, this horrific game also goes by the name ‘Knockout King’ and ‘Pick ‘Em Out and Knock ‘Em Down.’ And police suggest that people stay vigilant while walking the streets.

I don’t have all the answers for why so many of our young black men are self-destructing at such a rapid pace. I only know that black
America needs to take ownership of this problem — and figure it out — before it’s too late.

What do you think?

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