Black youths gather and congregate in downtowns or upscale and elite venues in cities all across America, committing random acts of violence or just causing menacing mayhem. According to some reports, this racial violence and lawlessness are part of a nationwide pattern of hundreds of episodes that have occurred in more that 5o cities during the last 50 years.
Why? Why are young black men becoming more brazen in menacing and violent behavior from the heart of America, Kansas City, as well as other cities from Baltimore, Maryland to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and points in between and beyond?
The racial attacks are random, committed by small and large groups alike. The attackers may be a small group of ten, a group of hundred(s), and in some instances, a crowd of a thousand. They attack or harass anyone or property in their path. They often go on the rampages with a purpose. In the last year, Minneapolis has seen it all. Recently, Baltimore and Kansas City has seen much of the same.
But, it does not stop there.
Just this week, the San Francisco Examiner reported that groups of black people are targeting Asian businesses and homes to commit acts of violence, robbery, and murder. A recent police study shows that 85 percent of physical assault crimes involved blacks committing them against Asians.
But black on Asian crime is not confined to San Francisco. Philadelphia may have an even more violent and widespread problem. During the last three years, there has been an increase in burglary and murder of Asian business owners and break-ins of Asians in their homes.
What’s tragic about this is those are the ones where there is a record and someone has been apprehended. But it is widely believed that many of these crimes go unreported.
San Francisco and Philadelphia are not alone. Similar incidents have been reported in Manhattan, New York. And one can find video news accounts of black on Asian crime.
But Yale Sociologist, Elijah Anderson, in commenting on the black on Asian crime accurately noted, “It’s a human thing. It could be Asians who get jumped. It could be white, Italian, Jewish, whatever, if you know what I mean. This is not unique to blacks and Asians.”
But what are cities doing about it? This has been a destructive growing trend during summer breaks for black teens for the last several years.
Summertime for most teens is often seen as a break from school, a time to hang with friends, earn a little money with a summer job. At least this is what summer might mean for the white teens and some lucky ones in minority groups.
For thousands of black teens and pre-teens, summer means things other than the above. And, often, not very good things, like loitering, idling the time away because they have nothing meaningful to do. If they are able to avoid problems or getting into trouble, then too often, trouble finds them.
Ask youth agencies, government officials, or just a casual observer in any major metropolitan area whether there are enough positive enriching activities or job opportunities for black youth, the answer would be a resounding NO. Poll a few parents and you will likely get the same answer.
There are signs all around that black youth between the ages of ten and nineteen do not have enough positive programs and outlets to constructively spend their time. It is a nation-wide problem that is manifesting itself in different ways.
There needs to be a sustained effort until desirable and meaningful outcomes are achieved for our black youth. Arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators is only a short-term, revolving solution.
The problem of addressing the long-term needs of black youth must be positioned higher on the radar screen for those in positions to do something meaningful about it: policy makers, civic and business leaders, parents, the faith community, school administrators, and public and private funding agencies.
We need not reinvent the debate. A meeting here and a meeting there will not get us where we need to be. Thinking we can arrive at meaningful solutions without making a long-term commitment to designate the necessary dollar resources will be just fooling ourselves.
Efforts to change the landscape for our young black people in communities across America will be more like a marathon, than a sprint, if we really want to provide quality out-of-school experiences that will enrich their lives and stop the wanton violence.
How many more innocent victims do there need to be?