Threat To Black Males
Barron told the young men that they need to stop fighting each other and instead fight the white men in power who created the prison industrial complex so they can go on exploiting Blacks for their labor. Barron pointed out that the first state prisons were built right after slavery was abolished. He quoted the 13th Amendment that says, â€œNeither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.â€?
A.T. .T. Mitchell, founder of Man Up! Inc.was one of several speakers at the recent symposium given by the Community Programs and Re-Entry division of the Male Development and Empowerment Center at Medgar Evers College.
He stressed the need to step up and take responsibility for what happens in oneâ€™s community. â€œIf the playground is all torn up because of junkies using it as a shooting gallery at night, whose responsibility is it to clean it up?â€? he asked. â€œAre you going to wait around until the Department of Sanitation comes â€“ whenever they do â€“ to clean it up? The responsibility lies with us,â€? he continued, â€œand once people see that we take responsibility for our own neighborhoods then, and only then, will they respond appropriately.â€?
Next up was Council Member and future Congressman Charles Barron who agreed with Mitchell about the need to take responsibility for crime in the community. He added, however, that when you talk about crime, there is no bigger criminal on this planet than the white male capitalist. â€œSome of us may steal cars, but they steal human beings, bring them to another country that they stole from the Native Americans, and then they call you a thief,â€? he declared.
Barron told the young men that they need to stop fighting each other and instead fight the white men in power who created the prison industrial complex so they can go on exploiting Blacks for their labor. Barron pointed out that the first state prisons were built right after slavery was abolished. He quoted the 13th Amendment that says, â€œNeither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.â€? â€œEssentially Africans in America have gone from the plantation to the penitentiary,â€? he concluded.
Captain Eric Adams, founder of 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care and a candidate for State Senator, spoke about when, as juveniles, his brother and he were arrested for burglary. While they were quietly and obediently filling out the forms in the 103rd Precinct, one officer said to the others, â€œDo you feel like a beat down?â€? Then they took the two young men down to the basement where they assaulted them. And when their mother came to the precinct, the officers laughed at her and told her that her boys would never be anything.
Adams said that what happened to them at that precinct left the two brothers with very different feelings. â€œMy brother became extremely anti-cop, but I left with a different agenda,â€? Adams stated. â€œIt gave me a mission.â€? And he told of how satisfying it was when he was promoted to Captain in the New York Police Department, â€œand those same people who said I would never amount to anything had to stand on their feet while I received my promotion.â€?
Others who spoke at the symposium were Vincent Banrey, Vice President for Student Affairs at Medger Evers College, and spoken word artist Tylibah. She performed her poem â€œIf I Donâ€™t Do Itâ€? which is particularly relevant to the crisis of Black men and women.
Following the individual talks, there was a lively and informative question and answer period. Before closing, Paul Washington, Director of the Community Programs and Re-Entry division, encouraged everyone who hadnâ€™t already registered to vote to do so at the table provided for that purpose.
Judging from the energetic buzz during the lunch that followed, the symposium had a very positive effect on the young men who attended it. One young man, Anthony John, asked to be photographed with Dr. Gerald Jackson, Executive Director of the Male Development and Empowerment Center. â€œI want to be like you when I get older,â€? he told Dr. Jackson.
Several youth from the Sankofa Academy commented on what they got out of the event. Travis Francis said of the speakers, â€œI felt like I could relate to what they were saying because they've been through things. They showed that you can come from nothing and still be something if you get your education.â€?
Jean Robinson said, â€œI learned that living in a ghetto area you don't have to fit in and be the product of your environment. You can always make it out in a positive way.â€? Gabriel Bethune added, â€œI agree with my man Jean here. I also learned that Black people as an ethnic community can come up. We have the intelligence; all we need is a starting point, and they need to start with us, the youth.â€?
The Community Programs and Re-Entry division of MDEC planning on holding its next symposium on re-entry in May. For more information, call (718) 270-6111.
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