Jeffery Young

Recent Articles

It’s time for men to man-up to domestic violence



If I asked, “What is domestic violence?” how would you define it? The answer I usually get falls along the lines of “someone beating up their intimate partner.” My understanding of domestic violence used to be just as narrow. Actually, domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior aimed at gaining and maintaining power and control over the behavior of an intimate partner. This coercive behavior consists of more than just physical assaults. It also includes patterns of the following behaviors:

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Forgiveness is the cure for pain of the past


On a crisp winter night, my siblings, a few cousins and I were camped out in our living room dimly lit by the Christmas tree lights. Our peaceful slumber was abruptly disturbed when the front door came crashing in. Splintered wood from the door frame torpedoed through the air. The razor-sharp winter wind flushed throughout the living room, cutting through our thin blankets and pajamas. The only heat remaining came from the blazing fury of the hulking shadow stomping through the doorway. Continue Reading →

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Changing negative behavior? — First, change the company you keep


Last month, a young man who read some of my columns sent me a response letter. In it, he described some of his struggles with making changes in his behavior to improve his life. He mentioned that he can’t figure out why he continues to get caught up in his old ways, even when he knows better. He also wrote that a mentor told him to change the group of people he hangs with. He has trouble following this advice. Continue Reading →

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Children shouldn’t receive a life sentence

My 99-year prison sentence started in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison. Built into the side of a hill, the prison has acquired the unsettling myth of being underground. Upon my arrival, I believed it was true. To enter the cellblock, I rode an elevator that slowly descended three levels. I felt condemned to a deep dungeon and thought I would never see daylight again. Continue Reading →

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We must challenge and change our system of mass incarceration


“Police!” The shout from outside the front door was followed by the house shaking violently from a stampede of police exploding through the door. I was a terrified four-year-old in Spiderman pajamas staring at high-powered assault rifles aimed at me and my mother. After ransacking our home, the police soon realized that they had raided the wrong apartment. It was 1982, the year President Reagan declared a “War on Drugs.” The war became a tool of a discriminatory and oppressive social control system. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (New Press, 2010) is a compelling analysis of how the war on drugs resulted in the mass incarceration of African Americans, which led to second-class citizenship. Continue Reading →

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Prison life: consequences of the street life



“You have 60 seconds left on this phone call,” blurts the automated voice. It’s an irritating reminder of where I live. When I talk to my daughter on the telephone, my confinement in prison fades into a vague reality. The 60-second warning yanks my consciousness out of the mirage my surroundings have morphed into. I’m not in the park pushing my daughter on the swing, listening to her melodic laughter on a warm, sunny day. Continue Reading →

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Money, power, respect: Part 2 — Power



“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”      — Alice Walker, author of  The Color Purple


At first glance, it can appear that people who have an abundance of money also possess the sole power to determine other people’s destinies. For example, education, suffrage, liberty and property ownership contribute to the quality of our future. Sadly, our public school system suffers from inequitable financing policies. Our voting rights are under attack. Drug and other criminal laws are created and manipulated to unfairly target African Americans. Continue Reading →

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Money, power, respect: Part 1, the money



Part one of  three-part column

Bullets in search of flesh and bone burst forth from a semi-automatic pistol, cracking the silence of the night air. Zipping to their tragic destination, the bullets leave in their wake piercing screams and chaos and a lingering whisper: money, power, respect. Much of the violence in the community stems from young men’s desire for money, power and respect. Yet these goals are not the problem. The pursuit of wealth and status are legitimate and fundamental goals to our society. Continue Reading →

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Let it go: dealing with unresolved beefs after changing your life



Over the past few months, my columns have mostly been directed toward the MSR’s adult readers. After a few readers’ responses that I’ve received, I see I have caught the attention of a few eyes. With that accomplished, consider this month’s column a transition into future columns that will more directly address the young men in the streets. We all know these young men are unlikely to pick up an issue of the MSR on their own. My hope is that you will start to place some of my columns in the hands of troubled young men who may benefit from the reading. Continue Reading →

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Show our youth we care by resurrecting the village



It was an August afternoon and the sun was blazing. I was a penniless seven-year-old, and I decided I was going to have an ice cream by any means necessary. I strolled down to the corner store on Broadway and Fremont. In that time it was the “76” gas station. As I walked down the store’s narrow aisle, I kept an eye on the checkout counter, waiting for my opportunity. Continue Reading →

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