Apathetic: If The Shoe Fits, Wear It!

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Why have pastors distanced themselves from the chaos taking place in the black community?

Does anyone care about the high crime rate among young black males and the dual educational system operating right under our noses in Charleston County?

Where the heck are our leaders?  Why ‘da heck are y’all so silent?

Pastors are supposed to be concerned with the whole person, not just the persons who fill up the collection plate on Sundays.

This isn’t one of those “shouting John” articles. I can expect some fallout, so be it.

Where are our leaders when all hell is breaking loose in our neighborhoods?  Black youths are having shootouts almost every day like it’s the wild, wild west.

They are being locked up and/or killed in record numbers by the police.  Is it by accident or design?

If you think it’s accidental, examine police shootings of unarmed black men in this country for the past ten years to see there is a pattern. White youths commit crimes too; but, they aren’t killed proportionately.

Today’s “accidental” killings of black men by police officers can be compared to the “wrongful” imprisonment and lynching of black men in the past.  What is happening to the black males is wrong; It’s just plain ole wrong!

Walterboro is certainly experiencing more than the national average per capita when it comes to violent crimes by black youths. In less than two weeks, seven young people are dead. If this does not stir folks to action, then we have a serious problem of complacency.

Wherever extremely high crime rates exists, the contributing factors can be linked to easy access to drugs and guns.  Other mitigating factors include high suspension and expulsion rates, uneducated and undereducated citizens and a lack of viable employment opportunities in the area.

According to Neighborhoodscout.com, Walterboro has one of the highest crime rates in the nation “across communities of sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon”.

I am telling y’all Mayors, elected officials and decision makers, if you don’t step up to the plate and take a hard look at solutions to the crime wave in and around Charleston, this Holy City will no longer be the #1 mecca for tourists.

And, to the Mayors who control the purse strings in Charleston and North Charleston, stop meddling in school business and allow the superintendent to do her job.  Focus needs to be on providing more practical training and employment opportunities for young people and reducing crime in our city.  You have been baiting new millenniums (“come here”) to fill high paying corporate jobs for the lack of a trained work force but what about the “been here”?  I am sure you can figure out a way to train locals to fill those jobs.

Mayors, what about those overtaxed taxpayers who live in your beautiful city?  What are you doing for the least of them? Aside from your recent minimal efforts to help the homeless, which is no more than a smokescreen to keep them out of the sight of tourists, what are your long-range plans for housing and employment?

Is it out of sight, out of mind?  If Mr. or Ms. Visitor doesn’t see folks lying around on the sidewalks panhandling, then the perception is Charleston doesn’t have a problem with homelessness.  And, what about parking fees increased from $1.00 to $2.00.  I know y’all didn’t ask me, but that almost seals the fate of downtown Charleston to becoming a gated community. It might as well be! Service workers can’t afford $1.00 an hour parking; so, how ‘da heck are they going to afford $2.00?  

I wonder how often the mayors visit black neighborhoods to determine their needs?  Maybe if they stop meddling into school business, they can begin to provide equitable services to citizens. You see Mayors, that’s part of the problem.  When you neglect my neighborhood, I tend to act like the neglect I live in.

If I am in a “thuggish neighborhood”, I tend to act “thuggish”. I am sure it’s just not me when I tell you that you run drainage pipes and cover them up in white neighborhoods but leave drainage ditches exposed in black neighborhoods.  Wirings are underground in more exclusive and predominately white neighborhoods while hideous overhead wirings permeate underprivileged and predominately black neighborhoods. High rise apartments are going up all over the place, but who has the contracts? 

Stop this madness before it ends up on your doorstep!  So, you want to know what can you do? I am glad you asked! You can begin by fixing the education and economic problems; so, we can help fix years of damage to our young people. And, y’all pastors with these mega churches and mega offerings, you can do more to help.

No more excuses!!! If the shoe fits, wear it!!

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