|Posted by projectreachinc on May 31, 2015 at 9:00 PM|
Dear Church and Community Leaders:
In 1944, approximately 75 percent of all homes in the black community were two-parent households. According to recent studies, only 25 percent of all homes in the African American communities are two-parent households. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-Americans fought to send their children to better schools and to put an end to racial segregation. Also, communities, churches and grassroots organizations united for change.
During the era of the forties, fifties and sixties, guns and drugs weren't readily available on street corners, and neighborhoods as they are now. Teenagers getting a hold of a gun and firing into a crowd of his peers, on street corners, parks, or in schools was unthinkable. The escalating gun violence across this nation is a symptomatic failure of family, specifically as it relates to black men and boys. Ironically, black communities were safer between the forties and seventies, even with the presence of racial and social unrest. Black males had a better chance at a good education and a decent job at a time when black people were waging war against U.S. policies that were designed to hold us back.
Today, though we enjoy hard won freedoms, our schools are separate and unequal in many communities and like war zones. The drug war and gun culture in our communities has proliferated, despite strict laws and sentencing guidelines to stop it. The need for African American men in the home as fathers and schools as teachers and other workers are critical. African-American males, growing up in a fatherless home and without positive male role models has a negative impact on their lives and future. Sadly, the majority of young African-American men in the inner city fit this description. Many become drug addicted/dealers and they lack clear pathways to an economic and social future. Combine this with firearms and drugs and by the age of 15; we find an angry and dangerous group of young men.
To reverse the culture of violence that's leaving a trail of bodies and wheelchair bound young men across many of our communities and neighborhoods, we must target the inherent social, education and economic disparities disproportionately impacting African-American men and boys. According to analysis of police data, 75% of reported homicides in America are African-American males; ranging in ages 15 to 35.
Starting in June, PROJECT R.E.A.C.H. INC., is asking church leaders and clergy across the country to organize nights of prayer; targeting neighborhoods and street corners where lives are lost to gun violence, drugs and gangs. Concerned parents, politicians, residents and educators are also asked to participate. We must demonstrate our love for our children, communities and neighborhoods and use a proactive approach and not reactionary approaches, stimulated out of frustrations, fear and sadness.
This movement is designed to build, strengthen and unify around a concerted effort to take back our streets and save our young men. It must be followed up with a "Code Blue" level of community engagement, like we did back in the fifties and sixties and never again, fall into complacency. We're dealing with a generation that's been lost to the streets and the prison system; combined with children raising children and others raising and under educating our children in institutions across the nation.
Politicians, laws, law-enforcement and the prison industrial complex can't and will not fix the social and economic conditions of our family and children. If we look back in history since the Brown Decision in 1954, we'll see that African Americans have suffered socially and economically as a direct result of the backlash to hard-won civil rights laws. "The Invisible Vapor of Racism" has confused and even misguided many adults!
Without organized and structured community alternatives, many of our marginalized young men will not become, or live to be fathers, godly men and breadwinners, as I remember from my generation. Quality education and advancement has been systemically eclipsed in many African American communities, with a high percentage of graduate from Public Schools being unemployed and our penal system is overflowing with them.
When released back into our communities, the stigma of being an ex-con, thug or drug dealer makes it even harder to get a job or a place to live, especially if their family lives in Section 8.
Keep Hope Alive,
Rev. Richard P. Burton, Sr., Director