For black kids, home remedy

Posted: October 10, 2011

EVERY TIME I read about some new craziness involving young people in our city, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is that they need their asses whupped - and so do some of their parents.

The most basic truth that we all have to understand is this:

Home is the first teacher and parents head these homes. But when we look at the number of troubled youths flash-mobbing or running into people's homes and attacking them, it shows exactly what their homes are - teaching.

Black parents too often are giving their children everything, and ask nothing in return. When anything bad happens to their kids, it's always somebody else's fault. And you the neighbor, you the teacher, you the policeman or you the aunt or uncle, had better not say "nothin to Meeka or Rah-Rah 'cause I had them."

The result is a growing number of young people who have no respect for themselves, their parents, their teachers, property, the law, even life itself. They have a sense of entitlement, fear nothing, have no conscience, do whatever they want.

And when the kids get into trouble with the law, their parents talk the talk about the white man as if he's somehow responsible for the mess they're in.

Oddly enough, the white man is the least of our worries in black communities because it isn't the white man who's killing us at alarming rates. We're doing that all by ourselves over he-said/she-said on Facebook, sneakers, cellphones, drugs, money, a look, a bump on the sidewalk, you name it.

As this senseless violence plays out in our communities week after week, we can count on seeing an outraged Mayor Nutter or Police Commissioner Ramsey on the news. And that's it.

There's all too little outrage among the people who live in these communities - people too frightened to speak up, walk down the street at night or sit on their front steps when the weather gets warm. All too little outrage from church leaders or civil-rights groups - folks who'd march on Washington if the Klan was terrorizing our neighborhoods and killing black folks at the rate in which these black clans are doing the same thing.

Making matters worse, those black folks who have the audacity to speak up about the state of affairs in our communities are condemned publicly - mostly by other black folk - for "airing our dirty laundry." In truth, when behind closed doors, black folks speak the same truth that Bill Cosby was crucified for speaking, and the same truth that Chad Lassiter spoke in these pages after watching teen mobs destroying property and attacking people over the summer.

If there is any hope for black youth, we have to stop condemning the messengers, especially when they speak the truth. What's happening in our communities isn't about rich or poor, black or white, Democrats or Republicans, single moms or two-parent households - it's about what's going on in our homes, about saving our young people.

To do that, we have to hold our kids accountable and stop making up BS excuses about them not having enough playgrounds, things to do, jobs etc., to justify bad and often criminal behavior that's hurting our communities, our schools, our businesses, our city. We have to get back to basics and instill morals, values, respect - things that can't be legislated.

As parents, we have to recognize that we can do better. We have to follow the law - if we break it, then our kids will do what they see us do. We have to disabuse ourselves and our children of the notion that self-worth is determined by the value of a cell phone, a name on a sweatshirt or the cost of some sneakers.

We have to tell ourselves that love doesn't mean spoiling our kids to no end and asking nothing in return like getting good grades, washing the dishes, folding clothes or cleaning their rooms. We have to stop defending our kids when they do wrong - on the streets and in our schools - and tell our babies, from the time they are babies, when they do wrong - and punish them accordingly. We have to spend time with our kids, talk to them, meet their friends and set rules.

We have to respect our kids, listen to them, learn from them. We also have to let people we trust who may be able to reach our teens when we can't advise them, guide them, even correct them when needed.

Finally, as parents, we have to recognize that we are the most powerful and influential people in our kids' lives and, as such, the only people who can fix what ails our children, communities and schools.

We can do absolutely nothing - but know that to do nothing means there will likely be a jail cell or a hollow hole in the ground waiting for your baby - a baby you could have saved but will only be able to honor through Teddy Bear memorials and airbrushed T-shirts with pictures of your baby in happier times.

Yvette Ousley is a former Daily News reporter and editor, and a married mother of three.

comments powered by Disqus