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The State of the 'hood: Self victimization

August 1, 2006       Commentary archives

The recent events of images of women on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily New, mourning the lost of another young family member to violence. The sixth in as many years. In other instances crack cocaine in the baby's crib, shoot-out in front of the school, and youngsters bringing crack cocaine to the class room. While HIV/AIDS and the prison system take our youth in disproportionate numbers.

One thing that has always fascinate me is how people fail to see how small habit good or bad, determines success or failure. Or if you will, the long-term consequences of their actions.

The Poor

You can certainly make the case that being poor, for some, leads to adopting certain survival attitudes. This all too often means patronizing illegal street enterprise. The far reaching implications of getting into this rut, manifest itself in the cycle of daily life.

There's a piece of humor on the streets I've heard a few  times in different versions: "My stereo got robbed two weeks ago, someone in the streets, just sold me a stereo that looks just like mine."

Funny as it may seem, this is a very serious statement about the cycle of self-victimization. Buying something on the streets, knowing it is ill-gotten merchandize, but using the opportunity to get something for nothing...well almost nothing.

When it is our turn to loose something -- be violated -- do we stop to think that our attitude created the very environment in which we eventually become victims? Probably not. We don't think it'll happen to us.

Sometime back I had a discussion with a group regarding this very point of supporting the thieves that potentially steal from them.

It was dismissed by way of injecting humor. I find this sort of denial theme runs rampant in the inner-city with the young people I come in contact with. I mentioned the tables I see on the streets topped off with bootleg CD's and the like.

With a tone of resentment towards these entertainers, the response I got was: "they make a lot of money, they show off their expensive cars and houses in our faces." I suppose this justify not having to pay full price for the intellectual property of these entertainers. Here again is this rationalization, of questionable conduct.

Needless to say this kind of mindset necessarily, leads down a slippery slope of rationalizing a host of other improprieties.

The stakes has gotten much higher. Or should we say, the condition of the inner-city have declined to a new low.

 Drugs, Victims, and Poor Governance?

Is there any mystery behind the fact that Black female between the ages of 25 to 34 has the highest prevalent rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. Buy all accounts the revolving door prison system, which attract a disproportionate number of young Black males plays a part in this cycle of HIV infection.

Countless times I've sit around listing to young men talking about their adventures with the females. The recklessness is mind boggling. Having unprotected sexual intercourse with more than one partner and claims of allergic reaction to condoms. Just a few of the dumb-ass excuses for not protecting themselves. This of course translates to the lack of protection of our young women.

The obvious question is why are these young women allowing this? One of the reasons it is said, is intimidation by their partners. Also they think they're in a monogamous relationship. But these excuses begs the question. Are these young women being informed?

Does this impart, at this level anyway, some corroboration to the high HIV/AIDS rate among young Black females. Keeping in mind that statistics are about cold numbers.

In discussing the ramifications of this behavior, denial raised its head again. The response I got was that the numbers weren't true. Now there is a historic reason in the Black community for distrust of the main-stream media and the government.

Quite frankly it can otherwise be a very healthy attitude. It therefore follows that the necessary education has to come from community leaders.

Obviously if your going to express doubts about the dire scale of HIV/AIDS in the Black community, then personal governance will not be of paramount importance.

The overall scope of this disease as it pertains to Blacks, has prompted some institution to ask the question: Is HIV/AIDS becoming a Black disease?

Parenting the Parents

We've seen in our print and television media a couple of instances one recently. A family member sobbing her heart out over the networks. Four or more family members over the years has died from violence, all of them young people. How did this come to past. Is Innocent God-fearing, law abiding folk being victimized, or is there something else at work here.

Earlier this year, a couple down on their luck was invited to spend the night. The next day crack cocaine was discovered in the host baby's crib.

Going back about 4 years, in one of the most disturbing incidents in Philadelphia. There was a shoot-out right outside of a school in which a youngster was shot. Obviously these people's motivation to shoot each other took precedence over the the safety of their kids.

Remember the old commercial of the kid in the ball park having to resist the temptation of a free drug offer, the one that showed us how teach our kids to walk away from those sorts.

Well...I guess it is about time we teach the parents, how to keep their drug stash away from their kids.

What sinister motives can be attributed to the apparent availability of crack cocaine. When unsuspecting youngsters can get hold of enough of it, and bring it to school to share with the class. We've had two such similar violations of our schools here in Philadelphia in the past year.

At every turn, every attempt to shed light on the worsening situation in the inner-city is met with doubt, or paranoia. "What about those other people? It's not just us." While in some cases there're  parallels with the rest of America. The shear number of Blacks in the prison system and the high rates of HIV/AIDS strongly suggest an urgent need for reevaluation.


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