Thursday, July 30, 2009

As Akron's neighborhoods disintegrate

On the fourth of July, as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal, a mob of around 50 black youths attacked a white family in Firestone Park, a predominantly white area of Akron. Immediately, a major "hush" overtook the local politicians, police and community leaders. There were short statements, the FBI was called upon to look into the affair, and Al Sharpton contributed a comment in condemnation of this apparently racially-driven act of senseless violence. The police are frustrated because nobody is turning anybody in or giving witness testimony.

The local rag refused to turn on public comments on that story, which was kind of silly because readers high-jacked other threads and have been talking about it ever since, some thoughtfully and others spewing racist ignorance.

Finally this week, one ABJ writer, Bob Dyer wrote this column, an interview with a black woman and her daughter living in one of the youth-terrorized areas of our town:

The 55-year-old woman lives in Akron's North Hill area, in the area between Main and Cuyahoga streets. Her neighborhood is predominantly black, with a sprinkling of whites, Hispanics and Vietnamese. Through the windows of her well-kept home, she has witnessed more bad things in the last year than most of us see in a lifetime. Intimidation, assault and robbery are routine. Not long ago, she says, she watched a crowd of 100 black teens surround an elderly white man who was walking his dog. ''They were blocking his path and cursing him out and taunting his dog,'' she says. The mob dispersed when a police car approached. Another time she saw ''a white girl getting jumped on by all these black girls.''
They speak of how their youth are without adult supervision, often living in homes headed by a grandparent who is working more than one job and seldom home to supervise the youths in their care:
Both women believe the sour economy is part of the problem. 'The government is stretched,' says the daughter. 'There's no money. This economy is jacked up. . . . There's nothing for these kids.' Kids have fewer programs, recreational opportunities and jobs. But the bigger problem, they say, is lousy parenting — or no parenting at all.
They say these teens feel entitled to everything without having any sense of having to work for what they want:
'Kids want nothing but money, and all these electronics. But it's easier to watch that person who just walked out of GameStop, crack 'em in the head and run off with their stuff.''
How much "hope and change" is taking place in our crumbling urban areas?
Although many of us thought the election of a black president would ease racial tensions at least a little, Barack Obama's overwhelming victory apparently is having the opposite effect in some quarters. Both of these women say they are sick of hearing black people shout ''Obama!'' in response to any type of public disagreement with a white person.
The conversation continues today when a beautiful city garden maintained for years by a retired black man to feed the elderly in his community was found vandalized yesterday. I pass that garden multiple times per week. I have admired it over the years. This season it has looked more lush and productive than ever. We are losing out in the effort to maintain a civil society, let alone one that cares and provides for the essential needs of every child that is conceived and born.

I have to wonder about the lives of those who produced the children now running wild in our streets, destroying gardens and terrorizing the elderly and their dogs. Why did the mothers and the fathers choose to have babies when they had no money or ability to raise a child? Did anyone teach them about contraception? Were safe abortions available and affordable? Did the fathers contribute anything other than sperm? What were the lives like for the young girls who became pregnant? What about housing, jobs, health care for the children and the mother?

How do we begin to socialize entire neighborhoods and turn wild children toward productive lives? Anyone have any thoughts?

1 comment:

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