Black Youths: Get a Grip

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

It’s Black History Month! We are losing too many young people to gun violence. So, I am on my soapbox this week trying to reach out to our young people.

Last week, sixteen-year-old Jaquarie Perry, a student at Summerville High School and on the track team, was gunned down while on his way home from practice. Eight juveniles, between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, have been arrested in what was reported as an apparent gun deal. However, the law states that “the hand of one is the hand of all” or “guilty by association.”   

I didn’t grow up in a glass house. I don’t throw stones. I am aware that everyone in a group, or in the vicinity of a crime, is not guilty and so it is with prisons. Everyone in prison is not guilty. On the other hand, there are some mean and dangerous rascals out there that are guilty of horrific crimes—drive-by shootings, kidnapping, murders, rapes, child abuse, spousal abuse, break-ins, arm robberies, child pornography and molestation.

What is happening with young people is not just a local problem; it’s a national crisis. Legislators need to set legislation in place to slow this pandemic. If parents won’t do anything with 15-year-old Junior living at home selling drugs and carrying a gun, then maybe it’s time they pay the piper. Junior wasn’t born bad. What we are experiencing is the impact of systemic racism, lack of education, poverty, joblessness and homelessness perpetrated upon a class of people that has reached its boiling point. It’s like putting a lid on a pot and once the pot begins to boil, the lid starts shaking; and, if the lid is not properly ventilated, it will fall off. Young people are exploding over trivial matters. They are getting too deeply involved in shady drug deals gone bad while others are trying to prove their manhood while still wet behind the ear.

Prisons are full of choosers and losers. Young people play a significant role in choosing their destiny—good, bad or indifferent. Instead of blaming other folks, they should accept responsibility for their shortcomings. Folks don’t determine your destiny, you do. Stop grumbling and mumbling and get your life in order. If you choose the road with good role models, good character, good work ethics, good manners, good sense, good biblical teaching and a good attitude, you are bound to have a good journey through life. However, if you approach the intersection of life and choose the road of indifference, slothfulness, disincentive, poor work ethics, unemployment, drugs and living off other people, you are bound to self-destruct and end up dead or behind bars. And when you do, you have no one to blame but yourself. Why, because trouble tends to follow those who know it all.

When it comes to young people, I don’t know about y’all but I have seen enough youths in the news with cornrows, big toe, bee hive, full of jive, gold grill, hair loose, don’t care, no fear, pants sagging, tail wagging, can’t talk, jive walk, can’t write, will fight, tattooed and rude, can’t spell and won’t tell.

Wake up young people!! Take charge of your destiny? When will you say, “I have had enough of the violence?” I am laying my gun down. When will you wake up before two o’clock in the afternoon and look for a job? When will you realize that any job, as long as it is legal and provides food, shelter and clothing for you, is better than no job?

Time out for excuses! So, tell me brothers and sisters, what’s the problem?

I refuse to support billions of taxpayers’ dollars to build more prisons when the funds are needed to fund schools. Instead of slipping and sliding and driving-by shooting, you need to be in school. And to those young people that may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when Perry’s life was taken away far too soon, my prayers are that justice will prevail. And to the rest of you, I say you made your bed, now lie in it. You weren’t happy in your mamma’s house and now you are headed for the big house.

Stop the killings and get a grip young people!!

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