From Chad Dion Lassiter: A cry from the heart on black youth violence

Posted: July 05, 2011

HERE'S MY response to black community at large on the spate of youth-mob violence and the recent rash of shootings and killings:

Stop the violence? They can't.

They are morally and spiritually bankrupt. The poison is too deeply rooted. They hate themselves and they hate you. They are extremely dangerous and will attack you at any moment, unprovoked, and even videotape their acts of violence against you.

They get a pass because some of their people do not want to admit that there are some among the ranks who just flat out hate one another. They are not sure why they hate you but they do. They will shoot you, kill you and sexually attack you when they can.

They can have all the family support, all the mentoring programs, improved schools. But all things being equal, it won't make a difference.

The poison of hate has them.

Be we're oh-so-careful not to openly air the dirty laundry, and the poison of hate - and if you do so, many will call you "a hater" - and label you "an elitist" even if you have advocated for them for two decades and counting.

They will turn on you for openly talking about the killings and hatred, but they won't criticize the element that kills and steals life.

But that ignorant and dangerous behavior should not get a pass. Oppression, marginalization and white supremacy may still be relevant, but many of those wreaking havoc out on the street are not operating under the framework of internalized oppression. They are black - and they hate you, even when you try to help them - because you are black.

The young people even articulate it when they say "you hating." Some of their parents are good parents - but most of them are not attentive to their children's needs.

As much as I hate to hear myself saying this, be extremely careful of them when you see them. Try not to make eye contact, because a stare or a glare can cost you your very life.

They are the walking dead and have no regard for their life - let alone your life. The time bomb within can explode at any moment, be it over no smoking in a bar, someone stepping on their sneakers, various undefined "beefs" or the cool pose that they have to present with.

They lack the coping mechanisms when internal and external conflicts arise. They lack leadership. They lack vision. They are followers and the groupthink and mob mentality engulfs them.

They are not like youth around the globe who fight for freedom, justice and human rights. They have failed themselves, and their families and communities have failed them.

The excuses will continue to emerge from some of their people, but I for one will not make any excuses for them, and please note that I love them - but not when it works to their detriment. They are killing themselves at the same rate that the KKK night riders in white sheets did.

I ask the black community: How can you defend them? How can you blame it on any other element? They are "black riders," and when they ride, you will die.

Wake up, black Philadelphia.

Chad Dion Lassiter, Philadelphia

The writer is president of Black Men at Penn, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. Reach him via the Web at

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