Black Communities Doomed Unless Fathers Step Forward?

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[Global: On Youth Violence]

Violence within the Black community in the United Kingdom has been on the increase since the 90s with no signs of it abating.

The victims are young and Black; and so are the perpetrators, and they are usually from low-income single parent families. This may sound like a simplistic explanation but it is a fact. This epidemic is so common place that aside from society shaking their head in haughtiness, tragically, it really is no longer newsworthy.

Violence will usually erupt over pettiness like mobile phones, turf war, "disrespect," a light-skinned girl with blonde weave down to her back, and occasionally a dispute over drugs.

Newspapers report that these young Black individuals are increasingly ready to use extreme violence for very little reason and the current phenomenon is to shoot to wound rather than to kill; usually aiming for the legs and leaving "war wounds" as a reminder.

So what is the reason for this wave of violence within the Black community here? There is not one particular cause: Poverty, racism, absent fathers, is not an exhaustive list, but I am inclined to argue that the buck starts and stops at home.

Young men need love, guidance and attention in order to build up their confidence and self-esteem. They bear the brunt of racism: not much is expected of them; often they're demonized in the press and eventually they stop performing; and, without good role models and mentors, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

These young men are trapped and they see a life of crime and gang culture is the only alternative.

Racism and poverty may breed crime, but it does not explain why the Black youth have turned on each other.

In 1998 an anti-gun crime operation, Operation Trident, was launched to help bring an end to a spate of shootings and murders among young Black Londoners. Trident was set up in response to Black community members wanting the police to do something that specifically targeted the criminals affecting them.

Black communities I find do not take responsibility for what is happening to our youth, preferring instead to look to outside agencies to solve this continuing tragedy and needless loss of young lives.

We may hang our head in shame and tearfully lament the loss of yet another life, but that is it. More needs to be done. Family values and morals need to be instilled at an early age. Mothers must not allow fathers to simply drift away and have no hand in raising their sons and Black male professionals, sporting personalities and entertainers must mentor these young Black men, I think it is called giving back to the community.

It is true that the environment in which we are brought up plays a big part in our lives but the way we are nurtured and the time invested in us plays an even bigger part.

Community members should also work to set up afterschool programs like debate clubs, drama clubs, sporting and musical activities in order to keep young people engaged and diverted from the attractiveness of gangs.

There are too many broken families in our communities and because of selfishness, it is mothers who are often left alone to bring up the children. Some Black men are too quick to relinquish their responsibilities, and not offer parental support; it’s like "I will do the crime but not the time."

This murderous trend will continue unless fathers take responsibilities for their sons and guide them through life in a positive manner: that is, encourage them to stay in school, help them out with their school work, participate in extracurricular activities, discipline them, teach them how to deal with racism and anger management, generally be around for these young men and show them an alternative to a life of crime and gang culture.

It is the only way they will become responsible, productive and contributing members of society.

It is apparent that children model behavior and unless they are shown acceptable behavior the moral decay will persist, the callous disregard for life will persist and the killing fields will expand.

Allimadi writes for The Black Star News from London.

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