Your Vote , Your Voice
George E. Maxey – Jerrod Ball
How Can Black Men Save Black Boys?
By Aaron Allen
Seattle Medium Newspaper
When it comes to the plight of young African American men and boys the question that always remains is “are they endangered?” And more importantly what are we as adult African American men going to do about it?
According to an article entitled “The Truth About Black Death,” the percentage of murders against young Black males caused by police hovers around 11 percent. As of 2017, 5 percent of all deaths of young Black males were caused by homicides. Tragically, homicide is the number two cause of death for young Black male children ages 1-14. Even among babies and toddlers homicide is the number two causes of death, and it is the number one cause of death for Black males between the ages of 15-34.”
About 1 in 1000 Black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police, and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Black males average 42 deaths per 100,000 due to all homicides.
Another disturbing statistic shows that 93 percent of murder victims of African American descent are caused by someone who shares their same race.
According to a Seattle Police Department (SPD) report, from 2018 to 2019 shootings in Seattle rose six percent.
With the fervor of protest in the name of Black Lives Matter throughout the region, highly publicized shootings in the Capital Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP as it has been commonly referred, and most recently in the Central Area have taken the lives of African American males who had yet to reach their prime.
Reports show that as of 2019 compared to previous years, 235 reports of shots fired, 79 injuries and 18 fatalities for a total of 332 shooting incidents occurred in the Puget Sound. These numbers are not race specific but the majority of them involved a Black person in some fashion.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has emphasized the importance of a police presence as a deterrent in hopes of curbing violence as a whole in her city.
“We continue to analyze the data and we work really hard to put officers in the places where we have the best chance of deterring future violence,” said Best.
The issue has drawn the energetic attention of many adult Black males in our community who believe that the solution is not going to come from the police department, but rather right in our own community. The question arises what must we do as leading Black men to curb the dysfunction that seems to plague our young Black generation? What are the causes that force our people, particularly our children, to believe there are no other choices in life other than scenarios that may promote violence?
Where are our Black male role models? Men who can show an example of positivity rather than negativity. What happened to the adult Black male’s responsibility towards his sons? Are we truly a disappearing act?
Erwin Chappel, President of 100 Black Men Seattle, a mentorship program designed specifically to address the issue of saving our young men’s lives, says that Black men have an important role to play when it comes the plight of our community.
“Our kids need to see examples that are stress free, that are giving back, that are loving, all those attributes that make us well-balanced men,” says Chappel.
“That is where our organization comes in,” continued Chappel. “We are about the mission of trying to take young men and give them a path, to give them hope and desire to reach their capacity by interacting and having fellowship with a man who has been there or who has experienced some of the things they’ve experienced and even if we haven’t experienced everything that they have, we know somebody, that they can talk to, who has.”
Humanity knows the family unity is the strongest unity when it comes to raising productive and law-abiding children. Advocates say that today, more than ever before, it takes a village to raise a child. Even though the notion of a two-parent household will drastically increase the chances of success, it still is no guarantee that children will not fall through the cracks.
“When you look at households and look at what is going on with our young men you start to see that they need mentorship,” expresses Chappel. “They need role models, they need men involved to give them guidance and to help them reach the potential that they all have, they all have greatness within them, whether they know it or not, they do.”
Saving our children should be the Black community’s number one priority for without a healthy future generation the prosperity and relevance of Blackness in American can and will diminish.
Former Washington State Rep. Jesse Wineberry says that we cannot be successful in fighting this battle if we only concentrate on just part of the problem. According to Wineberry, parents and families play a role, law enforcement plays a role, but policy makers also play a pivotal role in the process as well.
Wineberry says the he, along with other leaders in the area, are introducing legislation (I-2020 Washington Anti-Discrimination Act or WADA) that will prohibit the use of discriminatory use of deadly force by the police in Black and Brown communities.
“What can we do to protect the lives of our young Black men?” Wineberry asks. “We must use the power of our voices and votes to pass laws which prevent the police from killing our young African American men and boys.”
While many men in our community may take a different approach to address the problem, they all agree that it is incumbent upon African American males to shelter, nurture and protect their sons. It is the responsibility of Black men as fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins to look out for one another and teach the most righteous pathways to navigate and survive this world.