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Focusing On The Positive
12/9/2015 5:14:33 PM

By Barney Blakeney

With all the craziness going on it might be easy to lose sight of the positive things happening. The murder of Laquan McDonald colors almost everything I think about theses days. Watching the video of the 2014 Chicago, Ill. police shooting makes you think all cops are bad. Reports about the coverup - from the mayor’s office to the cops on the street - is sickening. Now scapegoats are being sacrificed. I know that when some folks are sacrificed, they are provided such concessions ‘sacrifice’ hardly is an accurate description.

A recent peek at the Charleston County homicide list for 2014 also was enough to make me shudder. A Black male age 16-35 catches pure hell roung yah! What does it say when the leading cause of death among young Black males in America today is homicide? The center for disease control already has said Black male homicides is at epidemic proportions. How long before those of us in the Black community get the hint?

We’re planning the next cruise when our children are dying. And sadly few of our organizations - family, social, religious or other - are planning anything to address that epidemic. So this week, I thought I’d write about some things I’ve heard about that are offering some real alternatives to young people. Not everyone is kicking back until the next street murder waiting to squawk about the violence that has become so commonplace. Some communities are organizing to make a difference.

For several months I kept hearing about some folks east of the Cooper River who actively are engaging young people with exposure and information to give them a positive perspective on their lives. And I heard about some folks in North Charleston who are quietly making waves in the Liberty Hill community. The activities in both those communities are newsworthy stuff, I just never got around to writing about them. I figure now is as good a time as any. I’m thinking maybe some other communities may get a few ideas.

So I called Joe Palmer from Mount Pleasant’s Snowden community. I’ve heard Joe and Fred Lincoln, who is from Wando, talk about some stuff they’re doing ‘cross the bridge that just blows my mind. I was at a relative’s house on a couple of occasions when those guys talked about a collaboration they’re developing with some folks in Ghana, West Africa. The Snowden Community Civic Association plans to take two kids to Ghana next year.

The civic association’s Heritage Committee is active in a number of efforts to give young people a positive view of life. They’re doing the usual after school tutoring stuff, which in itself is invaluable to the kids, but those folks get up close and personal when it comes to giving kids perspective.

Palmer, who is passionate about our culture and teaching it to our children, said in addition to tutoring, summer enrichment and a new scholarship program, the community conducts an exploratory program that sends kids to different places around the country and world. In 2008 20 residents from East Cooper communities went to Ghana. It was life changing, Palmer said. They want their young to experience the same life changing exposure.

Of course they need help, so go to their website at scca-sc.org to find out how to contribute to their non-profit organization. Or call me at The Chronicle to get in touch with Palmer.

A few months ago I called Coakley Hilton of Liberty Hill about a story. Coakley’s a good guy, but didn’t have time for the stuff I was working on because he’s been busy working with kids from the neighborhood. Derosher Price said Hilton and the Liberty Hill Improvement Council crew are really making a difference for some kids.

I couldn’t get in touch with the folks from the Liberty Hill Improvement Council, but I did talk with Cleo Brown, Royal Foundation’s executive director. Based in Liberty Hill, the Royal Foundation has been aggressively reaching out to youth in big ways. Its male mentoring program for adolescents and teens serves some 70 boys during monthly meetings that touch on topics in various areas of life. Its first Academic Academy, conducted last summer, resulted in improved performance in reading and math.

I was particularly impressed with the apprenticeship program, a 9-11 week class teaching basic electrical and plumbing trades skills. December 12 the foundation will conduct the Charleston Youth Summit noon-4 p.m. at the Royal LIfe Center, 4750 Abraham Ave. in the Liberty Hill community of North Charleston. They’ll talk about stuff like college admissions, gun violence & the law, the media and you and youth voting.

I’m sure there are many other activities being conducted by a lot of folks helping to focus young people on positive things in this crazy world we’ve created for them. They merit our attention and support.

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