(10:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
The Field Negro is a lawyer who lives in Philadelphia. He regularly reports on what he calls “Killadelphia,” his name for tracking the murder rate in his city (13 so far in the 26 days this year). And this weekend, he told the story of Dwayne Ramsey.
Earlier Tuesday, Dwayne had gone for his annual medical check-up, his mother said yesterday. He’d just gotten paid from his job at the McDonald’s in Plymouth Meeting.
The family returned home to watch the presidential inauguration and remained in high spirits the rest of the night, she said.
Later on, she grew hungry and Dwayne offered to treat.
He left and almost immediately Ramsey said she felt something was wrong.
‘I heard the shots and I got a sinking feeling,’ she said, her voice quivering.
She flung the blanket that was draped over her onto the floor, threw on a pair of pants, and, forgoing a coat, ran out.
On the corner, police and a crowd of curious neighbors had already congregated by the time she arrived. Ramsey tried to reach her son, who lay riddled with bullets on a small grassy area, but was held back by cops.
Turns out its just another case of black boys killing black boys. Hardly news these days. According to a study recently completed by Northeastern University:
…the number of black murder victims rose by more than 31 percent from 2000 to 2007. The number of murders involving young, black perpetrators rose by 43 percent over the same period…
I can hear the despair in “The Field’s” voice as he reports this story. He’s valiantly trying to scream about this to see if anyone cares. And he feels pretty hopeless that anyone will do anything about it.
While I certainly hope that the people who killed Dwayne are brought to justice, if we wait until this moment to begin solving this issue, we also have to wait until Dwayne is dead. That’s too late. Its time we begin to swim upstream on this one.
The reality is that most kids living in large urban environments today are living in a war zone. A war brought on by hopelessness and responded to by occupation/militarization. Just as Hillary Clinton talked last week about needing to use smart power in our foreign affairs, I’d say its time to pay a little attention to that when it comes to domestic concerns as well. And we’ve got a lot of work to do in that arena. Recently the New York ACLU produced a report titled Criminalizing the Classroom: The Over-Policing of New York City Public Schools. We’ve long ago accepted the idea of police in our schools. Instead of dealing with issues in relationship, we are increasingly criminalizing behavior. Just as an example, where I work we recently dealt with a 5th grader who had been arrested in the school cafeteria for throwing food. Can you imagine how many of us would have started a criminal record early if that had been the standard when we were growing up?
And its not just our schools. Where I live we’re seeing an increase of the use of police officers in libraries, recreation centers, and in neighborhoods to solve the problem of youth misbehaving. So rather than dealing with these issues, teachers, librarians, rec leaders and neighbors call the cops. What we know from the research is that the younger a child is when he/she has their first encounter with law enforcement, the more likely they are to become a chronic offender. There are many threads that contribute to this. But certainly one of them is the experience of being labeled a criminal at an early and impressionable age.
I’m not advocating that we just hug these kids and sing kumbaya with them. A little tough love and accountability is in order. But I’d like to see the teachers, librarians, rec leaders and neighbors act like adults and step into these kids lives with something other than fear and cops.
The Field ends his piece sounding pretty hopeless.
Yes it’s me, field, the party pooper , bringing once again a dose of reality to these cheerful and euphoric post inauguration times. So here we are in Killadelphia, just two hours from the coronation, and it’s more teddy bears, flowers, and another funeral home getting paid.
We have been down this road before, and everyone who comments here has grappled with this problem and struggled to find the answers. The truth is, we are still struggling, and those of us who care are out here every day fighting the good fight. A fight, that sadly, we are still losing. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, somehow I don’t think having a man leading our country who looks like the perpetrators and the victims will make any difference.
I agree with you Field. This is one we’re all going to have to work on together. Just electing a Black man as President won’t make it go away. But every little bit helps. Last week one of our African American staff who works in a middle school with kids who are chronically suspended for bad behavior (90% African American and 70% male), said that lately when he’s talking to these kids, he asks them, “What do you think Obama would do?” The interesting thing is, the kids actually care about that and it seems to help. Of course, much more important than that is the fact that they have someone sitting right in front of them who’s holding them accountable and caring about their lives. THAT’s the real answer!!!