Another senseless death
Maya Angelou passed May 28. She had her finger “on the pulse of morning.” She had her “caged bird” sing a prayer of freedom to rise above the “bitter, twisted lies” people of color must contend with, for, as she wrote, “Still I rise.”
The caged bird sings in classic Black gospel fashion, lifting up a prayer through its tears, yearning to be free. May our leaders raise their song for freedom too, rather than acquiesce to the gun songs that cage our young people or the bureaucratic dependency programs that cage their parents.
A 17-year-old was shot and killed June 1st on the 1600 block of Newton Avenue N. His death fosters another round of talking about solutions but not attempting to open cage doors. Unless you have lost a child to violence, its hard to know and understand the feeling. Some of us have been blessed: we have not lost a child. Others of us have not been so fortunate.
We continue to hear about “the plans” to patrol the streets with citizen patrols, to get guns out of the hands of our young people, to further education, to find youth meaningful employment. Plans, in a word, to enable them to look forward to a successful life and its amenities. Plans, yes, but not implementation.
I am an African American columnist writing for an African American paper. I’ve seen far too much pain as we continue to fail young people, making promises we don’t keep, discussing strategies we don’t implement, and promising comfort we don’t deliver. We cage our young. We shortchange them. We don’t just “bruise their wings,” we clip them.
Plans for faith patrols, soul patrols, community patrols, or marching for 40 days and 40 nights to highlight the need of a safety net for our most vulnerable are cages if we don’t also include education/training leading to jobs and good housing. The city has succeeded in building perfect cages that prevent success.
Too many still think uncaging is not difficult, that all we have to do is say we did it and it will be so. It will be for those paid to develop “perfect” plans that they don’t implement. Some may suggest that is simplistic and shallow. But isn’t that how government, churches and nonprofits work today: hold strategy meetings to develop perfect plans and then not implementing strategies or plans in our schools and neighborhoods?
The Star Tribune reports that on the 16th of June said faith patrols will take to our city streets. We pray they are well organized, and effective. But what if bad boys are armed? Will we, in the summer of 2014, continue to face the challenge of tragedy, violence, and failure by causing more young people to believe nothing positive will be done?
I come from the old school that had the power and charisma of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, Mary McLeod Bethune, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey, who understand the importance of struggle and delivering community victory. Our African American community cannot be expected to stand idly by while our young are ravaged by the results of guns, drugs and violence.
We can be better than Chicago or any city in America if we exercise the will to embrace implementing plans for seeking to achieve good, workable results in education and jobs by embracing positive commitments to tear down bars of community cages erected for Black Americans. That’s what the previous Black Americans were all about, keeping our eyes on the prize. That continues to be our task.