During a bloody Father’s Day weekend in Chicago, among the many dead is a 3 year old boy. He was shot dead while in a car that was being driven by his step-father; who was the actual target of the murderers. The step-father only suffered a minor grazing by the bullet and refused medical help.
While the usual neighborhood admonishment takes place with a small gathering of local ministers and folks displaying public tears over the senseless violence they endure, I take a step back from my immense disgust at the entirety of this so-called ‘black’ experience of living in the ‘hood to once again focus on the adage: ‘What we allow, persists. What persists becomes the culture’. Yes, I am on the outside looking in. Yes, I have, for a short time, lived in the ‘hood of Atlanta (while I was pulling myself out of poverty as a newly divorced mother with young children) and I suffered for it.
As a mother, who has made my fair share of mistakes in life, I caution my own rage at this 3 year old dying by reason of his association with a parent who brought him into the world in a warzone and who then brought a step father into her child’s life who had some affiliation with the type of people who shoot up the streets.
Of special note, it has been said that the step-father has not cooperated with police in finding the shooter. Perhaps another case of ‘no snitching’. This is one of the many issues I have with the portion of the ‘black American collective’ of people who refuse self-analysis, self reproach, accountability and responsibility for their lot in life. We can spend another 60 years talking about what white people have purposefully done to harm black advancement from the reconstructive era to the need for the civil rights era. We could spend another 60 years talking in circles about white privilege.
But in the meantime, black children need responsible black mothers who cut their losses and leave the ‘hood to the violent males who insist on savagery.
When standing before our own conscience and before the Lord and asked for and account of our lives, excuses will not stand.
We can not say, well, it was so and so’s fault, it was my mom’s fault for not raising me better, it was my neighborhood’s fault.
I truly understand that while we are growing and not autonomous, we don’t have much of a say in how we are raised. But once we are adults, we do have a choice.
It’s not necessarily fair, it’s never easy. BUT we do have a choice and someone has to TELL US THE TRUTH.
In the immediate sense of the word, there is no one holding you back from deciding to think differently, but yourself, but the habit of being ‘yourself’. What can lead you forward is prayer and a vision. You can talk to a pastor, a school counselor or a person you know who is in a better position than yourself. Ask for help. Let them know that you don’t want to live in the ‘hood indefinitely. Let them know you want a way out.
Spend less and less time with friends who don’t see life the way you want to, who only want to create more problems for themselves. Befriend the ‘nerd’, the one who reads and studies more. Go to the library and pick up self-help books, read inspiring biographies of respected people. Notice what they did to overcome. Keep a journal, write out your dreams and then hide it well. Don’t share your goals with folks who you KNOW will not support you. They can hold you back.
What I want to share with young girls is that for others who have overcome, it always started with one honest step forward and with prayer. You will be supported and often from it will be from unseen forces (God and angels). Just one step forward can open the door to one experience after another. Experiences you couldn’t have imagined happening the week before. Life is like that. It won’t always be perfect, but you will move forward more than you move backwards. Take the moral high ground to move yourself out of the hood. You deserve better.