Black Lives (don’t) Matter – or, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

The almost complete breakdown of common sense, maturity and responsibility among the youth of our inner cities is summed up in an appearance in court in Chicago on Tuesday.

The initial story of Caleb Reed’s death was tragic enough: A 17-year-old activist with a bright future killed on a West Rogers Park sidewalk when someone shot from a passing car.

But a month later, as prosecutors brought charges in the case, a more devastating narrative emerged: Reed was killed by his own friend shooting blindly at a car down the street.

Video shows Genove Martin, 18, “kind of fired over his shoulder” at a Chevy Malibu about three houses down, but Reed was right behind him and the bullet hit him in the forehead, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court Tuesday.

. . .

Both Reed and Martin participated in Becoming A Man, an academic and character development program offered at schools across the city. The program was launched nearly two decades ago at Roberto Clemente High School and served as a safe space for young men to develop social and emotional skills, according to their website.

. . .

Voices for Youth in Chicago Education, where Reed was a youth leader, released a statement Tuesday saying he had advocated not just to end violence but “to get help for young people who need to heal from the trauma they experience as a result of that violence.”

“What happened to Caleb is not a unique situation,” the statement read. “The tragic action that led to Caleb’s death is undeniably a call to invest in Black Lives.”

. . .

Reed … was killed on the last day of the most violent month in Chicago in 28 years. At least 107 people were killed in July, more than double the same month last year, according to data kept by the Tribune. That’s the most homicides the city has seen in a single month since September 1992, when 109 were recorded.

There’s more at the link.

Could there be a more damning testament to the complete and utter failure of inner-city upliftment and development programs?

  • “Both Reed and Martin participated in Becoming A Man, an academic and character development program … a safe space for young men to develop social and emotional skills”.  Well, that worked out well for them, didn’t it?  How many other participants in (particularly graduates of) that program have also been injured or killed as the result of violent crime, and/or have committed such crimes?  I’m willing to bet it’s more than a few.
  • “Voices for Youth in Chicago Education” appears to be just another program sucking up taxpayer and community dollars while achieving little, if anything, of lasting value.  Their appeal that Reed’s death is “undeniably a call to invest in Black Lives” is so much arrant nonsense.  Literally tens of billions of dollars are “invested” in America’s inner-city youth every single year . . . and, equally literally, there’s almost never anything positive to show for it.  Instead, the same old crime, violence and despair show themselves again and again and again – just as they have in this instance.  As an old saying puts it (no, not Einstein – he never said it):  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”.  Invest more in inner-city programs?  NO!!!  How about first expecting – no, demanding – a measurable, enumerated, positive return on our previous investment there:  and, if no such return is evident, killing the program(s) concerned once and for all?  Anything else would be insane.
  • “… the most violent month in Chicago in 28 years. At least 107 people were killed in July …”  Insanity, much?

America has a terrible problem in its obsession with “programs”.  Do we have this, or that, or the other problem in society?  Let’s start a program to address it!  Let’s throw money and propaganda and activists at the problem!  Yet . . . so few of those programs produce any positive result.  All they appear to do is perpetuate the problem, while paying the salaries (usually rather nice salaries) of those who run the programs.  They almost never actually change lives, because they don’t demand that lives should be changed.  Those they’re trying to help are seldom, if ever, truly challenged – bluntly, directly, without compromise – to change their outlook on life, their attitudes, and their behavior.  The programs are “all hat and no cattle“, to quote an idiom common here in Texas.

We won’t get a handle on this sort of violence until we give young people a few hard lessons in the reality of life.  Right now, they’re coddled into what passes for maturity in our inner cities, but never taught right from wrong;  never taught that there is, indeed, absolute truth, and that we defy it at our peril;  never challenged to be better than the gang-bangers and addicts and down-and-outs that surround them.  It’s all “acceptance” and “tolerance” and “non-judgement” – and that’s why our inner cities, and many of those who live there, are the way they are today.

I’ll let Tennessee Democratic Party state representative John DeBerry speak for the rest of us.  He’s one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and speaks with the authority of one who has lived, and still lives, in the midst of these problems.  He understands them from the inside.  He’s speaking of the present social unrest, but his words apply equally well to the environment of our inner cities.  I highly recommend that you spend the seven minutes it’ll take to listen to his words.  They’re worth it.

And that’s the answer to inner-city programs and community organizers . . . and to preventing the deaths of even more youths.  Give them a moral and ethical foundation that will not just suggest, but demand that they change their way of life, on pain of severe consequences.  In the absence of such a foundation . . . why bother?  They’re on a hiding to nothing.  (I saw the results, time and again, when I worked as a prison chaplain.)

That won’t happen, of course.  Too many people are making too much money at taxpayer expense by tolerating the present carnage.  They use it as leverage to fund yet more programs that feather their own nests, political, financial and otherwise.  Meanwhile, for Caleb Reed and Genove Martin as for so many before them, the daily reality remains crime and death.



  1. I noticed the VOYCE project talks about racial justice. Which in my opinion says they've no idea what justice is, since when you start adding qualifications on justice it's no longer just. BAM, after some light digging, leads to Youth Guidance Services, which started in 1924 as Church Mission of Help. In 1969 they became Youth Guidance Youth Services (from the Dept of Redundancy Dept much? :), and partnered with Chicago public schools.

    I can find no, zero, nada, mention of God or Christ in any of their webpages. Church Mission of Help has disappeared, and VOYCE never was there. When you take away the one who defines right and wrong, and the only one who has the real ability to change people from the inside you're left with empty words and hollow programs, and as you pointed out, Peter, lots of money spent for zero result. I would guess Church Mission of Help accepted gov't money and access to the schools (offices in the schools), initially, with the thought it would let them reach more kids. But with gov't money comes gov't rules and the silencing of the real message of the church.

  2. I would point out that the question is not "have there been people who've gone through this program who were still awful at the end of it"–for example, I've known some Eagle Scouts who were terrible human beings.
    The question is whether or not people who go through said programs have better outcomes than people who don't.

  3. When corporal punishment is banned, when social workers enforce "children's rights", when teachers are prohibited from enacting effecting discipline, this is what you get.

    They asked for it. They worked hard for it. Why should they be surprised when it finally arrives?

  4. There is a solution to this problem: fathers. Most of these young people who do evil are without a moral father. I raise one ton draft horses, and have 9 one ton stallions. They are each raised by mom and dad for the first year, then off to the bachelor herd with a lead stallion who keeps the peace. Single mom parenting is dangerous.

  5. As I've posted elsewhere, I've been getting my "sports fix" by watching old races and football games on you-tube lately to get away from all the political BS.

    One of the things that has struck me as I've been watching F1 races is Nikki Lauda is not only a master technician on the track, he's brutally honest about himself. When asked about what happened about various incidents his responses are refreshing and unusual compared to today's athletes. "It was my fault," or "I put myself in a bad position," or "I was driving like an ***hole."

    Taking personal responsibility for what you do, and the consequences thereof, doesn't seem to be a priority for people anymore.

  6. I despair, sometimes…

    Do you know what the real problem is, Peter? It's all you cack-handed do-gooders that think you need to "do something". The language you use is revelatory–You want to "Give them a moral and ethical foundation…", but I guarantee you that the first time anyone actually makes "…demand(s) that they change their way of life…", the implementation of that will be so monumentally ugly that you'll be the first to decry it as "inhumane". Mostly because it's going to demand a cull of the criminal element which will mean eliminating roughly half of the young black male population, the fraction of our American demographic that commits most of our crime.

    The real problem with blacks in America is that they were given everything. Literally–Given. The majority did nothing to earn their freedom, and as such, it's not worth anything at all to them. They've got a set of unearned benefits, and they don't respect any of them, nor do they want them. That's the essential problem–The do-gooders just gave them everything on a silver platter, and they resent the hell out of that. Same-same with welfare–It's just like the Israelis coming in and trying to help the Palestinians rebuild. The Israelis see it as magnanimous good-guyism in victory; the Palestinians are just confused as shit, because didn't these guys just beat our asses, and now they're coming and handing out tribute like they lost…? All that nice stuff the Israelis do, like not rape and pillage the Palestinian women, just goes to convince the idiot Palestinians that they actually won. Somehow.

    Most American blacks that are wrapped up in all the negative criminal BS that they are simply do not value what was given them. They did not earn it; it is meaningless to them. As such, they will not ever become productive, positive members of the community until they do, which ain't likely to happen at all. They think they're owed; that's why they're getting the welfare they are, and why they remain recalcitrant and lawless. Changing their minds isn't something you're going to accomplish with any amount of "positive thinking". They're just going to continue to roll all you do-gooders, and you guys are going to continue to hold back on that whole accountability thing, because nobody wants to be the bad guy.

    I mean, that paragraph I quote sounds nice enough, but we both know it will never, ever happen. Accountability is for middle-class white folk, and nobody else.

    Whole point is moot, anyway. In another couple of generations, the Mexicans are going to be running things, and the blacks are going to evaporate exactly the way they did in old Mexico. And, I'm sure that the Democrats will seamlessly shift their pander game over to them, although I suspect it won't be taken well. The establishment Dems are going to get culled and put out to pasture by the new up-and-comers.

    Least regarded thing in the world is a gift; that holds true for the kids at Christmas, and for the franchise. We "white men" gave them all that, and we'll never be forgiven for it. Or, trusted, because a gift-giver can oh-so-easily become a gift-taker.

    Which becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, in the end.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *