Left, TyShawn Lee, 9 years old, lured into alley and executed on November 2, 2015. Center, Kaylyn Pryor, 20, winner of modeling contest last month and shot and killed waiting for a bus at her grandparents house on November 2, 2015. Right, J-Quantae Riles, 14, ambushed while coming from the barber shop on November 7, 2015. Additionally, at least 10 other youth 19 and under were shot and wounded this week in Chicago.
Last week, I challenged Black men to step up in our neighborhoods to mentor Black boys away from violence and death. Numerous people wrote to me and told me that I was out of order for doing this. They told me that what other people do is not "my business!" They told me to quietly just do the "good work" that I am doing and let my work speak for me instead of my sometimes harsh words.
I am a 65 year-old Black man still afraid for my life in America, and afraid not to be afraid in America. My courage and confidence to do the things to save our people are low. I have been taught, by American schools and American society, to be afraid of speaking up for and saving Black people. I have no right to be afraid with death looming so near!!! But I am. I have been taught well!
I have given up jobs making close to $200,000 a year, working 6 or 7 hours a day, 4 or 5 days per week, to do this work for the last 20 years. I now make $40,000 a year, (if I am lucky), working 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week and I rest on Sundays by only working 8 to 10 hours on that day.
I am watching the blood of thousands of Black children run through the streets of America, and especially here in Chicago.
Many Black adults can't get jobs because of institutional racism and structural unemployment issues. They cannot support their families or their communities. Structural, institutional racism is invisible, but omnipresent in America. It is like the air we breathe. It is everywhere. It impacts us profoundly.
Most Black communities are war zones. I was just on the corner of 87th and Cottage Grove last Saturday night when 6 shots rang out ½ block from me. It is by the grace of God that one of those bullets did not have my name on it. Worst of all, too many Black children were shot and killed in Chicago over the past few days while the tongues of Black people are mostly silent. My tongue will no longer be one of those.
Our children's minds are being destroyed in the schools they attend and have been for maybe the past 70 years.
Several people told me that my words make Black people "look bad." I do not care how Black people look, I care that Black people are well! Unfortunately, most of us are not well.
Please help get Black men to mentor Black boys away form violence and death.
Please encourage those who have the knowledge to teach Black people excellent parenting skills to do so, and help us build up and strengthen our families and communities.
Please help get Black people to invest our $1 trillion in spending to improve our lives and the lives of our children.
Please help move our children off the bottom of the American education system.
Please help empty American prisons of Black men.
I know those who criticize me mean well, but, in whatever few years I have left on this earth, my tongue is going to lash out at those, Black and White, that cause and allow Black children to be shot down in the streets of America. I am certain that this will make some people uncomfortable. Maybe they should be!
My "love" for my people is in my actions, not my words.
My question to all Black people, with no malice, "What are you doing to change any of this of which I have spoken and when will you speak out?"
May we all participate in the creation of our own blessings.
The Black Star Project
P.S. - I used to be ashamed of asking Black people to finance the education of Black children because I thought it showed weakness and a kind of greed on my part.
Now I proudly ask, "Will you financially support the mentoring and the educating of Black children, and the improvement of our race by clicking on this link:
Or by sending a check or money order to:
The Black Star Project, Suite 2B
3509 South king Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60653
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