I sat with 2 of my law enforcement colleagues looking at a video recording of 2 young African-American male suspects, handcuffed in the rear seat of a cruiser.
At one point, the suspects acknowledged being on the video, as one of them stuck his face in the camera and extolled among other things how quickly he would be out on bond. This same genius then sat back in the seat and confessed to the crime for which they had just been arrested — an act that instead of ensuring how quickly he would get out, probably ensured that he would go to the penitentiary.
All of this was embarrassing enough. However, the most embarrassing, pathetic, and saddest part of the video was both young men’s inability to communicate in a remotely intelligent manner. Every third word was “nigga;” they used it as a noun, pronoun, adjective, and sometimes even as some kind of perverted punctuation. The 5 minutes or so of video became so embarrassing that at one point one of my white colleagues said, “They should be slapped every time they use that word.”
I stood there bewildered, dumbfounded, embarrassed, and yes, hurt.
Is there an answer for all of this recklessness, stupidity, and lack of self-esteem that is so pervasive among so many of our inner-city African-American young men? Certainly, a portion of the prescription has to address the poverty, lack of opportunity, and a consistent lack or resources with mentoring, job training, after-school activities, recreational programming, and improved public education systems. But the other real ingredient in the prescription is the exercise of some independent personal responsibility. Whether it is taught in a voluntary, or a mandatory forum, it must be taught.
My cousin Teddy is a self-proclaimed “military brat,” raised on Air Force bases throughout the world. He is also a veteran of the Vietnam War. We have tremendous conversations and spirited debates on a wide range of issues. Teddy has contended for a long time that the best place for the 2 young men in the back of the cruiser, and others like them, is the armed services. It is there, according to Teddy, that they will be forced to learn discipline, respect for authority, and self-esteem.
In this link, http://www.nowpublic.com/world/suggestion-increasing-military-recruit-inner-city, the author suggests that proponents of this philosophy believe that the military will benefit. In addition, the inner-city and the taxpayer will benefit too, because the people who otherwise would be in prison at taxpayer expense will instead become productive citizens.
Since a large number of these young men currently cannot qualify to join the military, as the media has recently reported, the induction criteria for the armed forces will need to be adjusted. Such changes will allow for a return to an old-school basic training environment, and give these young men the “attitude adjustment” they desperately need.
For a long time, I disagreed with Teddy, but now I think after seeing another episode of the same self-destruction and stupidity; his suggestion may in fact be a good one.
Teddy, I have finally come around.
The officers should have driven these 2 directly to Parris Island……………. instead of jail!
Read, learn, and share…………………………..Have a Family Meeting!