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Do you think that race relations in the United States will improve in 2015?
Death Waits In the Year 2015
1/21/2015 4:39:51 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Bang bang, shoot ‘em up. And the year starts off with a bang. Again. Sometimes our small Charleston community seems more like the big city when it comes to gun violence. Already four dead and we’ve just reached mid-month January.

Calgon, take me away. Okay, so I’m a dreamer. Like the late Rodney King, I ask, “Can’t we all just get along?” Things would be so much nicer. Cops wouldn’t put fatal choke holds on street hustlers selling loose cigarettes, bad behind knuckleheads wouldn’t taunt ignorant racists into pumping them full of bullets and public servants could take a moment just to sit and talk and not be executed.

I spend a lot of time thinking about that utopian community where friends spend more time cuttin’ the fool than cutting each others’ throats. What makes a 23-year-old kid wait for a man inside a neighborhood store and gun him down in front of witnesses when the man enters? What makes that same kid get so frustrated at his bond hearing, he storms out the door in contempt over the proceedings?

In one of North Charleston’s new ghettos where low income Black families have been herded in numbers too low to realize any collective political influence and where their socio-economic status remains unchanged from the concentration camps they left in other parts of the area, one teenager shoots another to death - who knows why? Not even they themselves.

For years I’ve tried to figure how to stop the madness. I’m convinced it’s an education thing. When you know better, you do better. Of course, education is only one factor in the equation. Madness is a complex illness that requires complex remedies.

So my interest was more than piqued reading Julianne Malveaux’s op-ed piece in the January 14 edition of The Charleston Chronicle. My friend Keith Schneider once said you learn to write by reading other writers. For years I’ve been trying to find a way to write my thoughts on the urgent need for quality education and why Black folks really need to focus on making sure our kids get a good education.

Malveaux, a former Bennett College president honed in on what a quality education means for Black kids and others. Using quotes from an article written by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. while he was a student at Morehouse College, she offered that a good education trains students to think effectively and efficiently.

I get the same opinion from former Charleston County School administrator David Mack Jr. who laments CCSD’s failure to teach all its students intuitive thinking.

Malveaux noted that King added in his summation that simply being able to think scientifically, logically and efficiently isn’t enough. Superman and Batman always were confronted by super smart criminals. Indeed what sets good thinkers apart from good people, besides the ability to think well, is their character and morality. Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education, King said.

So I’m watching the idiot box after reading the Malveaux column the other night, and some commercial comes on about a new video game called “Games of War”. I had just seen a news cast about the influence of video games on how we think about women. It seems some games depict atrocities against women as part of the game’s outcome. This new game includes some of that and a lot more.

Kill ‘em, shoot ‘em, blow ‘em up. Instead of building good character we’re teaching our people to callously maim and kill. That’s how a 23-year-old kid learns to wait for a man inside a neighborhood store and shoot him to death when the man enters. Malveaux quoted King saying the most dangerous criminal may be the person who is a great thinker, but who has no morals.

It bothers me that Black folks can fill up churches around this community whenever there’s a Martin Luther King Jr. program, but never fill a room when there are school board meetings being held to decide the kind of education our children receive.

Many of us who profess to be concerned about quality education teach our young the ultimate goal is to rise to the top -get them before they get you or get left out. Where does a kid go to learn the morals and gain the character of which King and Malveaux speak?

2015’s going to be a long year.

Until we come together to seriously mount a holistic approach to the madness that plagues our communities which includes in addition to education morality and character building, it will consume us like death waiting in the bathroom at the neighborhood gas station.

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