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.