September 4, 2010
This is a muse-inspired essay.
What is a leader? To me a leader is someone who leads. Every community has leaders of some sort. Unfortunately, for the most part, there are too many misleaders and not enough leaders. The end result is a future of misled individuals who are doomed to mislead the generation after them.
A few days ago a young Brother was stressing a point that he had been locked up since he was 16 years old as a result of crimes that he accepts responsibility for. He also stated, however, that he didn't have "older cats" like myself in his neighborhood to correct him when he was going astray like my generation had. On the contrary, he stated that it was the "older cats" who were giving him the guns and drugs. This type of exposure, he stated, warped his mind to believe that this was the norm. I understood what the young Brother was saying as soon as he said it. What he was saying is that he was taught to act a certain way via learned behavior, which scientists and psychologists like to call, "learned behavior."
Last month I was watching a documentary about severe gun violence in a certain city involving children. The city's police chief commented that kids are not born with guns in their hands and throwing up gang signs. He stated that they learn all of that through "learned behavior." Needless to say I was disappointed that the documentary didn't address the root causes of this learned behavior. For instance, where are these kids getting these semi-automatic handguns and fully automatic assault rifles from? Who is teaching these kids these gang signs?
All across America there is a culture of kids killing kids. Child soldiers posted up on corners or in buildings while packing firearms, Why?Where did they get those marching orders from at 12, 13, and 14 years old? Who told them to shoot all intruders (except law enforcement)? Who taught these kids to kill people because they dress a certain way? Who taught them to kill over an illusion (i.e. street corner or building) that does not even belong to them but belongs to the government? Who taught these kids that school is the opportune place to engage in rival gang violence? Who taught them who their enemy was? Who taught them how to sell dope, rob people, etc.? Where did they learn all of these "learned behaviors?" For those of us who come from the ghetto know the business. They learned from the "older cats."
They learned them the same way that a child is taught to kill his best friend with a machete or an assault rifle because he is a Tutsi and the other a Hutu; the same way that a baby animal in the wild learn to hunt for their food and fend off intruders by watching their elders; the same way that an adult teaches a newborn baby that all races are inferior to his because he is White.
Many people recall the human experiments in the early 20th Century called "classical conditioning." In one experiment, the subject (a White baby boy about 2 years old) was sat on the floor. The staff then placed a white rabbit next to the baby. The baby's curiosity caused it to engage the rabbit by touching it and playing with it. The staff later altered the experiment by placing the rabbit next to the baby, and then 2 seconds later making a sharp, loud noise that would scare the baby and make him cry. They repeated this over and over on numerous occasions to where the baby was conditioned to associate the rabbit with that specific terror. After a while the staff would put the rabbit next to the baby and the baby would immediately start crying and trying to get away from it, despite the fact that the staff never made the loud noise. Other scientists criticized the use of the baby in the experiment, but praised the results as it proved that people are classically conditioned to act and react to things in their lives.
In retrospect, a similar "classical conditioning" experiment is being executed in our communities that are being taught to the children by the "older cats." While one can rightly point the finger at those government agencies who are allowing certain communities to exist in a state of despair, we cannot excuse those "older cats" who are abusing children by giving them marching orders that are designed to inflict harm in the form of felony convictions, prison, and a myriad of psychological problems. My Brother Malik Shabazz (Touissant Harley, #241861) referred to this as "A.I.DS." In his A.I.D.S. essay Malik Shabazz states:
This disease has § continues to engulf every aspect of our lives, & if not careful, those of you who are in .mainstream society ,will be under its devastating grasp. Not only are you too surrounded by some who are infected; there's a possibility that this virus has infected you!
The A.I.D.S. that you know about & the A.I.D.S. that I'm speaking of are entirely different, but they both have one thing in common...Death! Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the disease that shocked the world, but Addiction to Incarceration & Death Syndrome is currently crippling certain segments of society & at the same time economically empowering others.
This form of A.I.D.S. is one of the motivating factors behind so many Black males & females & youths being in prison, & I use the word "prison" in the broader sense: dropping out of school; selling drugs; carrying guns; joining gangs; becoming teenage mothers & fathers; stealing; robbing; raping; but more importantly, dying! Subconsciously they're addicted to incarceration & death in their various forms. Surely this is worth thinking about!
When we think about addiction, for the most part we think of drugs, alcohol, gambling & a few other things. But I pose a question.... is corruption addicting? Is negativity addicting? Is a criminal lifestyle addicting? Yes they are!
Why would a person decide to live a criminal lifestyle knowing their destination is prison or the grave? After being released from prison, only a fool will purposely be placed in a situation that will lead them back to prison. After surviving a shootout, stupidity draws a person back to the deadly surroundings...or, is it because they're unknowingly addicted?
This is why incarceration & death must be acknowledged by the public as a legitimate addiction. In every case, prison is not the cure for this form of A.I.D.S., for prison sometimes enhances the disease, leaving some unable to be cured at all!
The public needs to be made aware of this form of A.I.D.S. because there is a cure for it. We can prevent 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 year-olds from coming to prison for life sentences; 14 year-old girls can be deterred from sleeping with different men to obtain material items & money & recognition; mothers & fathers can once again be the rightful controllers of thair homes; teachers can regain control of the classrooms; neighborhoods can return to being an extended family.
Incarceration & death both come in many forms, meaning the mind & body & spirit. Though one is physically free, at the same time, they can be either mentally dead or incarcerated. Just because your heart beats doesn't Mean your soul is alive!"
As a conscious man, I was compelled to let that young Brother know that it's "our fault" that his generation is in the condition that it's in. When I say "our" I mean my generation. I blame my generation because we had/have an obligation to look after the youngsters the same way that my parents' generation looked after me. My parents' generation learned that from the generation before them, etc. Even though I've been locked up since I was 22 years-old, I still have to shoulder some of the responsibility for the condition of today's youth. The cost of our inaction will likely adversely effect generations to come if no positive leaders stand up and lead. Right now the community is like a house full of kids without any men or woman as guardians. The adults fear the children, which is just wrong on so many levels. The "older cats" need to cease grooming these kids to be urban terrorists. Their exploitation of youngsters to commit crimes for them because they know that the youngsters will get leniency from the judicial system when they're caught is reprehensible.
It should be understood that the initial responsibility of a child starts with its parents, or, better yet, from those inside the child's home. But when that child leaves the home, the community ("extended family") is supposed to protect the child. It takes a village to raise a child, which is relevant because nowadays children are birthing children, kids are being raised in single-parent households. Vary rarely does anything good result from such instances because a kid is not equipped to raise a kid, and women are unable to teach boys how to be man the same way that a man is unable to teach a girl how to be a woman. For those of us who have children, we are obligated to stop living for ourselves and start living for our children. Every decision we entertain to engage in criminal activities should be snuffed, if for nothing else, for fear of being taken away (i.e. jailed or murdered) from our children.
Every child deserves to be with both parents. Sadly, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that more than 1.7 million children across America have an imprisoned parent. The percentage of children with an imprisoned father grew by 77% from 1991 through 2007. Adding insult to injury, those children are 2-3 times more likely to end up in prison, according to Christopher Wilrieman, a University of Michigan sociologist with credits on the study of imprisoned parents. I know 4 of those 1.7 million children are mine. I will be the first to admit that my reckless lifestyle made me irresponsible and not with my priorities in order. But that's what happens when a boy (not a man) participates in making a baby. I'm well aware that not all prisoners are guilty of the crimes that they've been charged with, but for those who are guilty need to do some soul searching. Boys can't be fathers, only men. Those 1.7 million kids didn't ask. to be born. Now that they are here we have to lead them by showing them that we won't do anything to jeopardize being taken away from them, or do anything to jeopardize being released early from prison.
For those of us who decided to be leaders, we must teach the youth that every person has 2 educations: 1 that is taught to him, and the other he teaches himself. The former education is mostly taught by the public school system, while the latter is mostly from experience.
As leaders, we must do everything in our power to convince the youth that it's essential for them to take advantage of every opportunity to learn something from the public school system, especially if it involves reading and writing. You can have all of the street smarts in the world but if you're unable to count, read, or write it's a pretty good chance that you'll end up in prison or dead. It stands to reason that employers will not employ illiterates who are unable to fill out a basic job application. Without a job, one will be compelled to get money via illegal means to survive. For housing and automobiles some type of contract must be signed, but, what good is signing your name on something when you don't know what the contract says? If a functional illiterate chooses only street knowledge to survive he will eventually end up in the prison system doing some serious time.
On too many occasions I have witnessed poor and illiterate convicts who were led through the judicial system by an attorney who was just going through the motions and making their clients sign their lives away without even realizing what their signing. Unfortunately, having a poor education is a strong indicator that one will be imprisoned. The numbers for high school dropouts reflect the following statistics: 3 out of every 10 students nationwide; for Blacks, that number is almost half. .According to the 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education, only 47% of Black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2006 school year, compared to 78% for the White males. Estimates show that a Black male drops out of high school every 46 seconds of every school day.
Comparing those school statistics with the statistics for the American prison population you'll find that its prison population consists of the following: 1 out of every 31 adults, 1 out of every 36 Hispanics, 1 out of every 15 Black adults, 1 out of every 9 Black men between the age% of 20 and 34, and 1 out of every 3 Black people will suffer imprisonment at some point in their lives. These numbers show me that the higher the school dropout number the higher the likelihood of being imprisoned. For those who have never been imprisoned, unless you've experienced it you will never be able to imagine how horrible it is. If you believe that your freedom is worth risking then you have a bad case of the A.I.D.S. I'm going to share with you 2 pieces: 1 called "imagine" by Donald Murphy, and the other called "We're All On Death Row" that I wrote:
Imagine a world where time stands still,
where nothing you do is of your own free will.
Stripped of your freedom, your hopes, your pride,
surrounded by strangers with no place to hide.
Imagine a place where you're told what to wear,
a place where no one is allowed to grow hair.
You are told each day you're not to talk,
and where and when you can and cannot walk.
a world where you sleep, surrounded by hate,
where all you can do is just sit and wait.
Imagine a world where you have no choice,
where you can't even think because of the noise.
A world where you work but get no pay,
and made, to feel worthless each and every day.
A world where days crawl like a snail,
where all you have hope for is a piece of mail.
A world where you have to eat real quick,
does this sound like a world that would make you sick?
Imagine a world surrounded by wire,
able to walk free from this place is your only desire.
A world like, this is hard to conceive,
yet here I am and cannot leave.
We're All On Death Row
In the state of Wisconsin - if ya sentenced to prison,
there's absolutely no guarantee that the next day you'll be livin.
Unlike plantations in other states where ya worry about losin yo life,
by lethal injection, electric chair, or a crusty homemade knife;
the state of Wisconsin has a big ole secret that they don't want us to know,
their secret that they're tryin to hide is that we're all on death row.
This death row that I'm talking about is different from other states,
because at least in those other states yo demise is set by a date.
See here it's totally different since the medical system's so bogus,
a healthy person today could die tomorrow without any given notice.
And don't be no Black person gaspin for air and shakin,
the darkness 'of your skin is a signal for them to say your fakin.
Instead of dyin in minutes you'll suffer at least 1 hour or more,
just look at how long Donald, Michelle, & Kelvin laid on the floor.
Then in come the Spin Doctors sayin "neglect" when it was murder,
& after an "internal investigation" it'll go no further.
and after several weeks the opportunists will lose interest,
i.e. the media & politicians will go on about their business.
Their cry for justice will whither away as if nothin ever happened,
while the executioners come to work every day jokin & laughin.
Nevertheless, I will assert the same thing desperately,
that we must all hang together or, most assuredly, we'll hang separately.
Even though we weren't sentenced to death we must let our people know,
that as long as things are the way they are - we're all on death row.
If to lead or not to lead is the question, then I choose to lead.
Which one do you choose?
Mansa Lutalo lyapo