Bill Maxwell: Time to try and turn black youths away from crime
by Bill Maxwell
May 09, 2012 12:00 AM | 1689 views | 5 5 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On April 26, the Tampa Bay Times published a story about black-on-black crime and violence that focused on the Stop the Violence Coalition, a new neighborhood group.

In the photo accompanying the article, 7-year-old Jordan Balloon sits alone near three tombstone replicas representing the victims of black-on-black violence. The image of the boy reminded me that many black children are deeply affected by crime and violence.

I have expressed my views on this problem many times. Now, I want to introduce readers to 36-year-old John Muhammad and his views on this crisis, especially on how it affects black youth. He is a founder of the coalition, president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association and a local leader in the Nation of Islam. He is married with three daughters and a grandson. He wants his community to rid itself of tolerance for black-on-black violence.

“When you look at the murder rate in the black community, this is civil war,” Muhammad said. “Look at all the funerals. Mothers are taking their children to their final resting place because of neighborhood conflicts, aggravated assaults and home invasions. How can the killing of our black brothers and sisters by white policemen or neighborhood watchmen warrant more response from black community leaders than our shooting of one another?

“Look at the statistics. It’s not whites killing us. It’s us killing us. We must mobilize our people and get our young people to stop the senseless killing of one another. But if we’re not willing to confront the murder and mayhem that’s going on in our own community — at our own hands — then we will not be taken seriously because we are demanding something from others that we are not demanding of ourselves.”

Part of the solution, he believes, is for the entire community to recognize the cost of violence not just for the victims’ families, but also the perpetrators’.

“When we hear about violence and violent crimes, lots of attention and sympathy are directed toward the victims and their families, and rightly so,” he said. “I have four relatives in prison for murder and have firsthand experience with the burden it places on the other family members. When a parent has a child that is given 10 or 20 years or even life in prison, it is a great trial for them and the other family members. They go through a wide range of emotions, including guilt, shame and regret, and even blaming themselves. So, there is great loss on both sides. What we’re asking the would-be offender to do is to stop and think before responding to conflicts with violence.”

Muhammad said turning young people away from crime and putting them on the path to success would take wise adult leadership.

“When you look at the way some of these young people control and operate drug houses and open-air markets, you can see they have the drive and skill that can compete with the best Fortune 500 CEOs. Wise leaders would recognize that, with the right vision and a different product, these young people can be productive business owners. They just have no desire to work for others. They want to do for themselves.”

He said new black leaders are needed to help cultivate and positively redirect the entrepreneurial spirit many young blacks naturally possess.

“We have to show them by example that they can own their own businesses and that we will support them,” he said, calling for support of existing black-owned businesses. “Our responsibility is to pool our resources so our young can learn from our example. We need to organize the craftsmen, those who have knowledge of plumbing, roofing, brick masonry and electric wiring. Let’s ask them to teach the young people their trades.

“Then we can look at these vacant lots and abandoned properties in the ‘hood’ and approach city government and ask them to help us put our brothers and sisters to work in rebuilding their community. ... We can then begin to legally own the city blocks we once foolishly used for our illicit purposes.”

Although the Stop the Violence Coalition began in the black community, Muhammad said “anyone willing to take a stand and be present for peace is welcome to participate, regardless of creed, class or color. Violent crime affects every member of our community — especially our children.”

Bill Maxwell is a columnist for The Tampa Tribune.
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May 10, 2012
If a group of individuals are so mindless and ruthless that they run around victimizing and murdering each other, let them have at it.

That's what gang warfare and mid-eastern tribal conflicts devolve into. Basically they are the same thing.

I wish it didn't have to come to that, but in the end I have no problem with bad guys killing bad guys.

Unfortunately there are always innocent victims that get caught up in this madness.

May 10, 2012
Seems to be never ending cycle mob of blacks attack people rob stores and nothing is done about it, then they say they are being stereo typed seems like a predictable pattern to me. Also long as blacks have separate this and that no Hispanic or Oriental and defiantly no Caucasian this and that.

Look at Knoxville two white college students abducted tortured raped and murdered 2007 Channon Christian, Christopher Newsom murders and now Northfolk Va. All this is covered up at some point things are going to break and vigilante justice will take over because there’s two standards for justice, this will be hard to stop once it starts. This is just like the summer of 1967 or 1968 watch out law enforcement and you better do your job protecting all citizens even if they are white!!

May 09, 2012
I agree 100%, but good luck in trying to resolve what has become an ingrained lifestyle for young black men.

The blame can be spread around.

First of all I know that most of the black community and infortunately many of the so called black leaders blame "whitey" for these problems. And there is,in fact, some truth to that claim.

But where does MOST of the responsibility lie?

Here are my top candidates.

- First and foremost older black men (going back at least one generation) who have failed their families and communities. They have passed those bad lifestyle habits onto their male children.

- The Democratic Party for institutionalizing the plantation lifestyle with an over abundance of cradle to grave social welfare programs that are disincentives purposely designed to keep the black community in their corner.from a political stand point.

- The faux black leaders like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah White, etc. who teach and preach a hypocritical, false and excuse making message that exacerbates an already bad situation in the black community.

- The hip hop, gangsta' oriented entertainers who glamorize and hold up a criminal lifestyle as something to be admired and emulated.

No wonder there is such a problem with young black men. With all of these things working against them their chances of being succesful, responsible role models are minimal.

leadership lacking
May 09, 2012
To me, this is one of the biggest wastes of human labor, hopes and dreams that exists in our country. For years people have said the Black leadership should step up and care for and inspire their young people. Motivate them to want to become contributors to our society, to work toward achieving a worthy goal, to become educated and to enter the real American mainstream. Unfortunately, all this talk has done nothing, and as my mother used to say, "Talk is cheap". Very sad and daunting problem which gets worse all the time.
May 09, 2012
Oh...Mr. Maxwell and Muhammad, Bill Cosby said these exact words and TRUTH's over THREE years ago and was crucified in the media by certain black leaders and organizations for it. What a bunch of HYPOCRITES!!!!
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