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Is Black America Failing Its Young Men?

August 25, 2014

youth inprison

I recently heard from a friend that Attorney General Holder is considering passing new laws that would eliminate mandatory or extensive sentencing for drug crimes. 

I don’t know yet what this means exactly, as I have not done much research on his intention with these new laws. While I find the information on the surface to sound appealing and admirable, I must admit that I do sense that additional trickery could be at hand with the passing of such a law. America has not been too kind in its attempts to restructure laws that obviously place black people at great risk and disadvantage. There has been little hesitation to put large segments of them right at the epicenter of harm’s way. These perceived attempts have mysteriously and consistently been undermined by individuals and groups who occupy powerful positions within the United States’ legislative branches – entities that possess the potential to determine the fate of millions of black people, as well as all Americans who reside under its control and living near the bottom of its socio-economic totem pole. For centuries now, there has been an ongoing battle for the rights and equality of African descendants in America, and their basic rights as humans. In fact, their humanity in general has been questioned and continuously hangs in the balance. While there are many people living in the United States who believe black people are just as much human as anyone else, not many of them would be willing to trade shoes with a black person – not in America. Being judged based purely on your skin color – something you have essentially no control over, and shouldn’t desire to – can be a heavy burden to bear. This imbedded mindset has not totally disappeared, and if you believe that it has, then you are naive. Too much evidence exists to the contrary.

Back to the law changes. Remember, it isn’t the length of a sentence – nor any mandatory sentencing laws at all – that tosses both black and hispanic males into this social under-caste system that current legislation does, but it is the tag that comes along with any conviction that hinders them from re-entering society with a fair chance at reform – things like higher education, housing, economic and employment opportunities, and even a retention of their right to vote. Sentencing is only the beginning, and just one part of the casting process. The stigma that is attached to someone who carries a felony conviction on their backs, is just as bad as actually “doing the time” itself. Whether sentenced or not, 6 months or 6 years, it is the attachment of this label – and the criminalization that is to follow – that places them in jeopardy of losing the aforementioned rights. So let’s not be suckered into some soothing political lingo, disguised to woo the general public – particularly blacks – into thinking they will be getting a better deal than the one they are currently living. I mean, don’t get me wrong, no jail time sounds like a really good deal, especially to poor and underprivileged families who are forced to live in impoverished conditions due largely to the strong male figures having been systematically removed from their communities, causing them to search outside for assistance. These economic conditions are most conducive to producing a life of crime just to survive, and an unfortunate cycle that is predictably hard to break.

Many black people are asking the question today:

Is it the black community who is failing the young black men in our communities by not giving them the support they need? My answers are, “yes and no”. Yes, we are failing them because we have allowed and are allowing it – again – to happen on our watch. And no, we aren’t failing them…in larger part, it is the system that blacks and hispanics have had no part in setting up, that is failing them.  I am speaking of the American legislative and penal systems in particular. Law enforcement agencies are failing them; drug enforcement agencies are failing them; the U.S. federal government is failing them; the education system is failing them; the American people are failing them. Just about everything around them is set up to be a pitfall. The police protection they are theoretically given, is only a facade for covering up a much more sinister plot to destroy them. They are living underneath a social and political system, with the primary aim of killing them – both literally and figuratively. They are being slowly and systematically plucked out and exterminated in genocidal proportions. The evidence of these claims is blatant, but yet remain obscure to most. We can look right at the blaring data that suggests such a genocide is – and has been – taking place; but so many will still deny that it is. This baffles me!

I often wonder:

Do most of us turn away our heads because we feel so helpless to do anything about what is happening? Do we avoid touching on it because it hasn’t touched close enough to home for us personally yet? Do we avoid it because the scars from the pains of our past run so deep, and we don’t care to re-open them or revisit it? Is it possible that we are completely oblivious to what it taking place?  Or are we just afraid of challenging the system…or rising up against it in revolt? I seriously hope the two latter are not the case.

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

It really does take a village: Even in a world of feminism and equal rights for all, a strong, hard-working, family focused male figure is essential for providing communities with the stable foundation it needs to build itself up. Men are the hunters and gatherers; they are the core. A community with high quality feminine and masculine images and actions for its youth to look up to and model after, yields a community that is unstoppable in what it can achieve. In thriving, non-infiltrated, black American communities of our past, the men were the strength, courage, and muscle of those villages – they were the motor that powered and guided the people to drive forward. The women were the oil, the backbone, the glue holding it all together as it sped along. The religion that African slaves were given was used by slave masters as a tool to misguide, miseducate, and subdue his captives. Though most eventually came to believe it was their religion, and not one they had adopted. Many Africans were heinously murdered by “good ole Christian folk”, claiming to love GOD, while hoisting a negro up on the branch of a tall oak tree with a noose around his neck – often in front of his wife and children. When one thinks with any level of logic, however, how is it possible for Christianity to be authentically an African’s religion, when in Africa Christianity did not even exist until the Greeks brought it over with them during their conquests and inquisitions? Africa had totally different philosophies and spiritual systems – practices that European imperialists considered to be “primitive and uncivilized”. Much of this was lost in the journey to the West.

The United States of America – the establishment that stole millions of African people away from their homeland – eternally separating daughters from mothers and fathers from sons – tearing apart entire families who had been together for many generations – is what has failed black people again and again by keeping them economically and socially destabilized and disadvantaged through the use of political and legislative power and police force, even by the use of brutality; thereby making it difficult to come together, find common ground, and organize any true movement away from the slavery that still exists today via the prison industrial complex’s mass incarceration agenda and other systems. Instead, America has moved “blindly” into a state of colorblindness, which is a myth and really does not exist. Color certainly does exist, though many are wishful that it did not. Let’s be clear about it, there was never any long-term need nor want – outside of slavery – for the so-called “savage” African’s presence in America. So there is a psychologically and perhaps physiologically imbedded disdain for those who fall under the “one drop rule”. There was, and is also, a political and propaganda-driven agenda to cause blacks hate themselves. It is very difficult to quantify, but this is why the lack of self love is so prevalent among black people today. This self hate would cause an implosion of epic proportions within the black community, and a self perpetuating genocide through black on black crime vis-à-vis “Chi-Raq”. We don’t value ourselves, so we kill ourselves. We don’t value the lives of those who resemble us, so we easily accept the apathy of others toward black life. None of this is by accident, but a deliberate and psychological design.

So….what about Michael Brown? What about Timothy Stansbury? What about Sean Bell or Oscar Grant? What about Eric Garner or Alonzo Ashley? I tell this appalling story to prove true that from a historical perspective, there has never truly been a value for black life in America. The way in which black people have been mishandled by the since their arrival on western shores – from slavery to Jim Crow to the War on Drugs and senseless killings of its youth – exhibits this fact  to me very clearly. That is the REAL problem we are witnessing come to a head today. It is even bigger than what I have shared here, but this is a good place to start.

“You can only conceal the fact that you are pregnant for so long – sooner or later the truth of your pregnancy must be revealed. American has been pregnant with a revolution for quite some time now, and soon she must give birth to that child.” -Bradford Speaks


dred scott

In 1847, in a fight for his and his family’s freedom, Dred Scott (then a free man for three years) was told: “It is too clear clear to dispute, that the enslaved African race was not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. Black men have no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” – Chief Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott vs United States Supreme Court

This judgment has yet to be overturned….causes one to wonder why.





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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization. 

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