Where, o where, have the black men gone? O where, o where can they be?
- Black youth were arrested at twice the rate of white youth for drug offenses between the years 1980-2010. However, a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2012 found that white students were slightly more likely to have abused illegal drugs within the past month than black students of similar age.
- In a US Department of Justice study on the 1980s “war on drugs”, it was reported that the country’s population of incarcerated drug users soared from 42,000 in 1980 to nearly 500,000 in 2007. African-Americans constitute about 13% of drug users, yet they make up about 46% of those convicted for drug use.
- Because African-Americans are generally more likely to be poor than whites, they are more likely to rely on court-appointed public defenders who work for agencies that are underfunded and understaffed. In 2012, according to the US Government Accounting Office, 70% of these agencies reported that they are struggling to come up with funding needed to provide adequate legal defense for poor people.
“Blacks are also far more likely than whites to be stopped by the police while driving. Since the nature of law enforcement frequently requires police officers to make snap judgments about the danger posed by suspects and the criminal nature of their activity, subconscious racial associations influence the way officers perform their jobs.”
- Prohibiting law enforcement officials from engaging in racial profiling.
- Fully funding the country’s public defender agencies.
- Establishing a commission to develop recommendations for “systemic reform” of the country’s police bureaus and courts.
- Why are the numbers of African-American males being incarcerated increasing so drastically?
- Why haven’t the recommendations provided been implemented during the previous 15 years?
- Why would the implementation of these recommendations be so slow over the next 15 years?
“Fear that is incorporated within oneself (cultural values, mores, motives, attitudes etc) through learning or socialization. Specifically, it is the acceptance or absorption of an idea, opinion, belief, etc., so that it becomes part of one’s character. This act often takes root in an individual’s psychological core by learning or unconscious assimilation.”
Specifically, the majority and ethnic minority communities continue to live in fear of each other. This fear is reminiscent of staying within the “known,”and not seeking the “unknown,” due to fearing the uncomfortable. These communities are comparable to travelers who are journeying on the same road who upon coming to the “crossroads” i.e. “decision point” continue to take the same road and yet desire “different” outcomes or experiences. The changes these travelers seek will only occur when they decide to take not the same road, but to seek a “new path.” In doing so, they may learn to come to terms with the unknown (“living with fear”) instead the known (“living in fear.”)
We, the travelers, can work towards the resolution of our identified issues if we can re-conceptualize fear. One way to do this is to utilize the following empowerment strategy. The traveler must:
- Want to address the concept of fear.
- Want to come to terms with the reality that fear is simply a feeling and that fear can be “good.”
- Want to realize that FEAR IS HERE. FOREVER.
- Want to understand that he/she has the choice to “live in fear or live with fear.”
Same old road? Or walk and explore a new path?
- What about you?
- What do you want?
- What are you willing to do? In order to obtain what you want?
Live in fear? Or live with fear? You choose!
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
– Sir Winston Churchill