Columnist seemed more cynical than sarcastic

September 3, 2010
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I find it interesting that Arlene Jones of the Austin Weekly News could get  a “hysterical laugh” out of the meeting between Police Chief Superintendent Jody Weis and certain gang leaders in Chicago while remaining “sarcastic” in her response.

This is not the time for making light of a harsh reality. Leave that to Aaron McGrudder. People are dying. Children are dying.

The social institutions that once held African Americans together during the most adverse times in history have eroded. There is only one establishment that readily welcomes them with open arms without any conditions and provides the basic necessities for existence. It’s not a “safe haven,” rather a coming to terms with how society and their neighborhoods view them.

It’s a rite of passage into thug life.

The prison industrial complex is making permanent second-class citizens out of more black men than were in chattel slavery. Michelle Alexander writes: “There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”

This is not the first time gang members and criminals were tricked in Chicago.

I remember back in the late 1990s the Cook County Sheriff’s Department along with the Chicago Police Department notified people by mail of them winning a lottery and were promised tickets to Chicago Bulls games if they showed up at a particular place at a certain time. They were arrested once they entered the building on outstanding warrants.

While some find Weis’ actions last month objectionable, he brought to light a much needed conversation between both sides.

At a press conference Thursday held in the pouring rain outside the Columbus Park Refectory, gang members voiced their displeasure with Weis’ threats to use the federal RICO laws if a gang member killed another. The gang members also talked about the lack of rank and file that once bestowed a certain sense of order among gang members. They understand the influence they wielded would not be enough to curb the violence. They alluded to education, families, jobs, health care and even entered a meeting with the Westside Ministers Coalition to see if their concerns could be heard.

Within the angry speeches lay a subtle cry for help from the hardened faces of men who still held affiliations to their letters. They still need to belong. And where society fails, maybe their membership makes up.

The current preexisting conditions and the history of neighborhoods like Austin post white flight are breeding grounds for different factions of same gangs on the same turf arguing over limited resources. There is no sense of hope, but knock-off Air Jordans, bootlegged movies and music are in abundance. They have been conditioned with a thought to merely exist.

Going to prison sometimes ends up being a way of life. That “bravado” you speak of tends to wither away as age or addiction festers.

I know of many men that still hold on to the swagger they had once they are released. In fact, if they exercise daily, their physique adds to the label of being “fresh out.” And the “others” that you are referring to tend to keep their mouths closed and become outcasts.

I just don’t know where we as columnists serving an underreported area should draw the line. I guess we feel strongly about different things. But what confuses me most about your commentary is that it was inspired by the story and picture of 17-year-old India Spellman?

austintalks.org@gmai.com

4 thoughts on “Columnist seemed more cynical than sarcastic

  1. These men are terrorist to their own kind and communities and need to be treated as such. They are lucky that only the RICO statues are going to be applied as would be happy for them to be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay.

  2. Oh, Jennifer, why such harsh language?

    It’s funny how we comment on the actions of said individuals, but never focus on the conditions that led up to this point. It is too easy to blame just these men and boys for what they have done. C0nsequences for actions are in order, I agree! But this has been an issue in black communities for quite some time.

    The drug war that seems only to be aimed at African American communities with stiffer punishments than that of their racial counterparts sends a clear message to who the intended targets are. If law enforcement wanted to use RICO laws in the past, why didn’t they?

    This so called war that has been the longest ever fought on domestic soil. The casualties of this war are meant to be the black and brown men that are behind bars–44 percent of the prison population. Tell me there is nothing wrong with this picture when two-thirds of the increase in federal inmate populations are due to drug offenses. And once branded, these felons who may want to turn their lives are denied redemption. No voting; no financial aid; and if even if they wanted to go to college, their basic educational system failed them by social promotion.

    There should be a better system of rehabilitation than that of places that look like reenactments from the movie roots.

    Society just throws their hands up neglecting the truth about the history of slavery, racial segregation, Jim Crow and the systematic consumer-driven exploitation and media attention of African Americans.

    NBA, the music industry, the hip hop era from its conception and ties to blues and jazz through the present bling era with its southern laced influence. It is meant as a distraction to focus the attention on everyday pleasures like cars money, women and living beyond means in order to mimic what is cool.

    Sex, drugs, guns and alcohol sell. That’s what some view as the only good that come from black and brown men.

    Not many urban families are steeped in educational values and traditions. They just were taught to work hard. But what happens when jobs get outsourced and a once thriving industrial place like Austin loses all of its factories and abandon buildings remain like ghost towns?

    Tumble weeds blow and the whistle at high noon signals a thickened plot between what once was and what will be. A change in scenery from what was promise of the late 1960s to current despair and chaos. What happened to the people of the high rise project buildings?

    This hopelessness didn’t spring up overnight. These gangs didn’t just decide from birth that they would be thugs or menaces. They do share the blame, but better alternatives are needed.

    Employment and better education.

    Not many people are taking aim at the City Colleges of Chicago and Mayor Daley for them wanting stop remedial education courses. Yet Daley has put in charge of the Chicago Public School system a man who couldn’t even get the buses and trains to run on schedule or balance the budget of CTA. Daley just told him have a try at educating our kids!

    An entire system is at fault. The gangs, church, schools, health care and history.

    some of these men were destined to fail while in the wombs of their mother. There were never given a fair try. They do have responsibility, but they don’t share all of the blame.

  3. I am so tired of people whining about White flight. Many Whites left to protect their families from escalating crime and violence. When the Whites were there, Blacks complained, when Whites left, Blacks complained. Why do Black neighborhoods need Whites anyway? If we are as evil and racist as you claim, I would think Blacks would be glad that we left their neighborhoods and moved elsewhere.

    Every other racial group is entitled to self-segregate by creating, for example, Hispanic-themed dormitories on college campuses, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. If Whites want to be around people who look them and share their culture, they are just as entitled to do so.

  4. Tired, I wanted to respond via this thread, but I think you are touching on a much larger issue that has been biting me for a while. So, stay tuned.

    I really do appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading.

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