Who is to Blame?

All of my life I have been a witness to drugs, sex, and violence around/in my neighborhood.  I experience two completely different worlds from the trolley stop to my block. It goes from University of the Sciences, to a group of young drug dealers loitering in front of a store, to my block, which is occupied by retired couples and working/middle class people. Through all of the diversity in my community, the young black men stand out, and with good reason.

It is not absurd to hear a gunshot in the distance or to see someone being arrested. Although the area is populated with more whites than blacks, black people, especially young black men, play a pivotal role in the disruptive activities in my neighborhood. Instead of going to school, some would rather follow the influence of the neighborhood drug dealer. These young men reject the system and all that goes along with it, when you say, ‘I don’t give a fuck,’ you then become empowered, liberated, controller of your own destiny (Collins, 177). While this may stand true for financially stable young black men, it has a total different effect for the young men in my neighborhood. Families fear they will lose their children to the “bad” elements of the neighborhood. Once I overheard someone say the best thing a black male can do is stay out of trouble. It is common for families in my neighborhood to prepare young males for inevitable and perilous encounters with the police. Representation of criminals, bitches and bad mothers refer to the poor and/or working-class African American men and women who allegedly lack the values of hard work, marriage, school performance, and clean living (Collins, 154). Class location, race and gender identities shape how young black men reveal the evidence of the problems they face in their life. Who is to blame for this ensemble of social ills?


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1 Response to Who is to Blame?

  1. jsmoots says:

    I found your post to be extremely intriguing. I’m currently enrolled in Race and Ethnic Relations with professor Grace Kao and we have recently studied a theory called the Stereotype threat, which was formulated by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson. The theory proposes that the existence of a negative stereotype means that anything one does that conform to it make the stereotype more plausible as a self-characterization in the eyes of others or in one’s own eyes. I think that this theory directly relates to much of what bell hooks and Collins proposed. The actions of these young black men aren’t really actions of liberation, but I think it is possibly and internalization of what they think the societal expectation of them is. To answer your question, I don’t think that there is any specific person, group of people, or even institution to blame for ‘this ensemble of social ills.’ It is easy to point fingers at the film industry and their portrayal of black men or at media industry for the way black men their involvement in criminal acts are always highlighted. Regardless of the answer, I think that it is more important that we look not at who is to blame, but what efforts we need to put into place to stop such behavior.

    Steele, Claude M. and Joshua Aronson. 1995. “Stereotype Threat and the Intellectual Test
    Performance of African Americans.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 69: 797-811.

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