Published by Jerz 8/16/2014
I want to first thank the good brothers of the “Ball Street Journal” -aka- “The Section357 Show” for allowing me to hang out with them on their last show and share my perspective on a few things as it relates to my hometown (Chicago) and what is being done and could be done to curve the gun violence that it’s becoming more commonly known for. Here’s the link to the podcast so you can check it out for yourself. http://section357.podomatic.com/entry/2014-08-15T09_14_59-07_00
I’ll mention some of the same points in this piece but want to take it a few steps further.
I was initially going to separate this particular piece from this forum but Sports and Society do collide on this one. The title simply pays homage to a time I’d like to see ALL of us get back to in our households (not just African Americans). I wanted to use the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow crusaders of justice to remind us of what fighting for what’s right looks like. In today’s “all about me society”, we rarely see this type of unity and selflessness displayed as it relates to situations within our communities that deserve our immediate attention. We live in a society of fear and it is perpetuating ignorance. Even when the late Tupac Shakur referred to himself as a “Thug” his message was as much about embracing your culture, be proud of where you come from and stand up against crooked members of law enforcement. He didn’t preach violence if it wasn’t a result of being vigilant. Before we were thugs simply pays homage to a people that embraced the totality of the cost they’d have to pay for the change that was needed and the justice they sought. we HAVE to get back to this same thought process as a HUMAN race. Right is right and wrong is wrong and knows NO “color”. The recent attention paid to police officers across the United States using unwarranted force (sometimes deadly) against unarmed African-Americans adds another layer to the depth of the issue I’ll discuss here but that deserves a piece all it’s own. I’ll do my best to stay on track with this particular discussion but my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost a loved one to these types of acts as well as the people of Ferguson, Mo.
In the podcast above I mention some critical elements that are missing in most urban, African American family structures. In the discussion on gun violence in Chicago the idea of what can be done to at least slow it down was weighed on different scales. We have to ask ourselves why our youth of today are so reckless and have little to no regard for their life or the lives of others? If these individuals grow up with an “I don’t care if I live” attitude why would they care about someone else living? We are all products of our environment in some way, shape or form. Either you allow what’s happening around you to suck you in and become part of the problem or you use it as motivation to better yourself and step out of it. I just think back to my growing up and the role my Dad played in helping shape the man I am today. As a child of divorce, there was a lot I didn’t understand until I was older but that didn’t stop my Dad from always being a provider, leader and teacher. I can remember from the time I was able to hold a pencil drawing pictures of my favorite superheroes (Superman, Spiderman, Batman and my Dad *not necessarily in this order*). I can remember never wanting to disappoint or embarrass him. I always wanted to make him proud. He passed on values to me, to this day, that I’m able to share with those that allow me to do so. This component alone is enough to compromise the foundation of the family unit, when not around. I thank GOD above for my Dad daily and all the sacrifices he made to make sure I was able to attend private grammar and high schools and get me through college. How many Fathers do we have in this day and age that are making this same difference in their children’s lives? Men what are you feeding YOUR children (mentally and spiritually)?
“The breakfast table” is something my Dad always believed was critical in sustaining the family unit. It may be “the dinner table”, for most of you, but the concept is still the same. It’s the place where the family meets over a meal to discuss the strategy to conquer the day (in the case of breakfast) or to discuss the day that was (in dinner’s case). The bottom line is time was spent TOGETHER and any successes, issues, concerns or otherwise we’re discussed as a FAMILY. Our men have stepped back and in some cases out of their roles as leaders of our households and ultimately as leaders in our communities. I want to share something a good brother wrote and shared with me as I was embarking on the journey of marriage.
“Men have strength within that is so great that the devil has to steal it. That’s why guys have issues of anger, adultery, lying, lusts, etc. Anything that can disrupt the strength of a man which a defeated man means one less strong family. That’s why you see so many single parents because strong families are grounded in GOD. Often times the devil can kill a whole family by taking out the strongest member (the man)”. – Arnez Clark
I never knew why GOD put it on this brother’s heart to write that out and give it to me but he did and what it says makes SO much sense. Our men not just the Fathers have to step up in the lives of our youngsters. I must salute the brothers, cousins, uncles and grandfathers that have stepped in and are stepping in to take up the slack for the “absentee” Dads that have fallen off for whatever reason. Broken families equal broken communities. You’d be surprised how much of the WORLD you could change by simply cleaning up your own house.
We have to stop expecting everyone else to do OUR job as parents raising our kids and fortify them with ideals and principles that will carry them through life. I get tired of parents expecting the school systems to raise and police their children. What kind of interest are you taking in your child’s education? How active are you in your child’s academic development? Our teachers have a tough enough job as it is. If you aren’t contributing to your child’s success, you’re ultimately contributing to their failure. It’s hard for a child to give a damn, if the parents don’t. There is NO bigger influence than that of the parents. If a figure of public prominence (Athlete, Entertainer, etc.) is your child’s primary role model, you may want to take a long hard look at yourself and assess your true parental worth. We can make a difference one child at a time, if we want to see a stop to the senseless violent crimes that take place not only in Chicago but in all major urban areas across the Country. It first starts with showing we give a damn within our own families which in turn would spread through our neighborhoods (if EVERY household did this) and flush through our communities. “Each one teach one” is a phrase that is simplistic yet complex. It’s something that can be done but we ALL have to pull our load. We have to get out of this mindset that if it’s not happening around me or mine it’s not a problem. that line of thinking in itself is a problem.
I had a thought about growing up on Chicago’s south side in the late 80s and 90s. With the gang activity being as high as it was, gun violence was nothing new. It got to a point (and still is today) that just being out on the block and hearing multiple gunshots ring out doesn’t even make most people jump anymore. I thought to myself what if Michael Jordan used his voice to speak out on the violence of the times then like current Bulls player Joakim Noah does now? What might his impact have been? Whose ears would he have caught and maybe changed their path? What if he held free basketball camps within the city and other functions to rally the community? What other prominent figures could he have enlisted in the cause? I’m not one to say “is that his responsibility?” because in essence it’s the responsibility of ALL of us. I think a critical “ball was dropped” though Jordan still has a level of clout in Chicago that few will ever obtain (so Michael it’s NOT too late!). The question was brought up on “The Section357 Show” about what sports can do to help create a new culture of peace and I mentioned how the major sports franchises (and leagues as a whole) should step up and wage a campaign against the violence that affects many of the cities their very franchises reside. Why should it be just the players? Why should Joakim Noah be the captain of this ship by himself in Chicago? Where is the rest of the Bulls organization as well as the Blackhawks, Cubs, Bears and White Sox? Is it not an issue of importance to “higher ups” because the issue isn’t on their doorsteps? makes you think doesn’t it? What about the NBA who makes a point to bring sensitivity awareness to the LBGT community, support survivors of breast cancer and pay tribute to Latin heritage. Great causes indeed, but is not focusing on the safety of our youth not a great cause as well? I think Sports can definitely help in the fight but it’s not their battle alone. We ALL have our parts to play. Play yours at an “All-Star” level…