In January, nineteen year old Jakhee Sledge was leaving a McDonalds in Bladen County, when he was shot and killed. Jakhee was said to be gang affiliated. The case remains unresolved. In May of 2003, after joining a local gang in the Triangle, Joshua “Jason” Paz was killed during a robbery that he and a fellow gang member were carrying out. Jason was accidently shot by his partner. He died clutching a Mac-90 assault weapon according to an article written by reporter Oren Dorell Since 2003, we, African-Americans, have been winning the race – the race to see how many of us in North Carolina can die in one year. We are the undisputed champions of murder, manslaughter, victim rates, and to top it all off, we get our people involved the earliest. African-Americans hold the record for most sixteen year old murder offenders in North Carolina. I think we deserve a round of applause.
What had humble beginnings has now evolved into an all out killing free for all. Back during the Civil Rights era, gang activity was typical; however, their mission then wasn’t stacking paper and taking out opponents. The objective was to protect their neighborhoods, family, and friends from racism, police brutality and inequality. One of the most famous gangs, which eventually evolved into a political party, is the Black Panther Party. As minorities it is natural to feel a sense of not belonging; at times it seems as if we are immersed in a sea full of fish, but none that look like us. This may sound funny, but think about how most people use to sit at lunch back in high school. Think about who you are most likely to start a conversation with in your P.E. classes.
The rising gang problem in North Carolina coincides very closely with the recent political climate: recession, war, and change. In this moment of uncertainty, which seems to be lasting forever, our youth are flocking to people who they believe can give them security and wealth. To explain the social deviation, the murders, drugs and robberies, goes much deeper than just typical youthful insecurity. Deviation is often the catalyst of social revolution; it is the answering to a question that government or authorities have seemed unable to answer. The best example of this is the surge of gang activity in New Orleans after Katrina. Citizens may feel that their very government has turned its back on them by sending tax-paid American soldiers down to Louisiana to police up the situation. I believe it is very important to be politically involved because our government will only be what we make it. Instead of actively changing our situation through the political process, we have been pledging our allegiance to red or blue or black, or yellow instead of the red, white and blue. It is as if we are playing a game with the government that we are losing. Our youth are losing, our parents and grandparents are losing, our siblings are losing, and our future is losing. We are trading visiting our parents on holidays to them visiting us on holidays with a glass wall between us.
Positive reinforcement is needed – positive reinforcement from those of us who have “made it,” those of us in college, those of us in a position to be an example. Programs like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Big Brother-Big Sister program is what needs extra funding, and we need more involvement from college students. Activities like Service Raleigh, Relay for Life, can food drives, book drives, and blood donation drives is what needs more publicity. I agree that there needs to be a lot of change, but I also agree that nothing will change unless you and I get together and change it. Until we are able to evolve and get rid of the nasty taste that slavery and the Jim Crow era left in our mouths, there will never be a decline in the number of our people killing each other. If anyone is interested in getting involved in any of the programs I mentioned, here are some of the websites: Big Brothers-Big Sisters www.bbbs.org, Boy Scouts of America www.scouting.org, Girl Scouts www.girlscouts.org, Relay for Life www.relayforlife.org, Blood and Plasma donation centers www.trianglearc.org