Children of Wrath: Who's Responsible??
By Todd M. Banks
Presented by Omni-U Virtual University
Todd M. Banks
"A Who Responsible?"
Lyrics by Steel Pulse
"And the struggle goes on…..
Some say the earth
Will keep on turning
Dread times are near
And I’m not joking I a warning
As we continue that same old moaning
The chosen race just keeps on begging yeh
And I wanna know who’s responsible?
They don’t give a damn no"
Who’s responsible for what is happening to our Black children?? Our babies are dying at an alarming rate. Among a myriad of other causes are the systemic racism and disinvestment that have resulted in the widespread escalation of homicides in [and on] Black communities nationwide:
A 5 month-old baby girl fatally shot while riding in the back seat of a car
A four-year-old boy shot in the head while getting his hair cut in the living room of a relative’s house
A twelve-year-old honor student shot in the head, in a barrage of gunfire directed at her house, while sitting in her bedroom planning her birthday party
A seven-year-old girl killed, at a fast-food drive-through, in a hail of 40 rounds of ammunition leveled at the car in which she was a backseat passenger
An 18-month-old in a car seat shot in the head when a gunfight ensued on Du Sable Drive between the driver of the car in which he was riding and the driver of another car. Fortunately, the child survived the gunshot wound. Whether or not the trauma of the gunfight and the high speed duel will be overcome is yet to be seen.
"Mother’s joy turns to
Pain and suffering
Weeping for their babies and sucklings
Spirits of the innocent wandering
But I wanna know who’s responsible?
They don’t give a damn, no"
2021 was the most violent year in Chicago/Cook County in almost 30 years. Over 1,000 lives were lost from homicides in Cook County alone in that year. Eighty- one percent (81%)of the victims of those homicides were Black. While the statistics are sobering, the undercurrent connected to the root cause of the violence points to a bigger issue that is endemic to Chicago:
While there is substantial evidence that points to Black youths being more vulnerable to excessive law enforcement, there is an even greater threat to their life expectancy: In essence, the disinvestment in the communities in which many of them live has turned them into war zones.
Our Black children are enduring the malady from which most casualties in war zones suffer: PTSD, which is also known to sociologists as"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." This city- and, in fact, this country- has ignored the necessity to provide the resources needed to address, not only the physical but also the emotional damage caused by PTSD, a syndrome that now affects our babies. Because of the denial of culturally appropriate emotional health resources, anti-Black behavior develops amongst our youth. The chain reaction that is initiated manifests itself in a myriad of negative ways, one of which is to do the "dirty work" of both inside and outside forces against each other, their own communities, and, ultimately, themselves.
This systematic pattern of violence, and the failure to solve crimes like these, or bring offenders to justice appear to be connected. Our political, civic, and corporate entities need to be held accountable for their collective failure to mitigate the root causes that have contributed greatly to this growing problem. Concurrently, the traditional playbook of policing adhered to by law enforcement officials has left many of us- young and old alike- disillusioned, disempowered, and, disengaged yet, as a community, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure the well-being of our children as well as our own.
"EBK" is an acronym for “Everybody Killed.” That’s what I have been told by young Black men who are still in high school. That is the mantra by which a lot of our children live. None of us are immune to the anger, rage, and resentment that have been cultivated within many of our Black children. The collective lack of engagement in adhering to the “it takes a village approach,” practiced by our ancestors, has been greatly diminished, and in some cases, eradicated. Why are so many of our children so "caught up'' that sacrificing our babies has become the release valve? Why do so many of their hearts seem filled with so much despair? Again, systemic racism, disinvestment in Black communities, and police and political misconduct are the prevailing factors in the demise of some of our youth and the neighborhoods in which they live. In turn, the young Black men and women who have been engulfed by these forces, have fallen victim to an equally egregious problem: The failure of the" Village" to alleviate the suffering- to heed the African proverb that says:" The child who is not embraced by the Village will burn it down to feel its warmth."
I believe that, as a society, we are complicit in the failure of our children to value human life, to respect themselves and authority. We have abdicated our duty to create an atmosphere of equity and discipline in a manner that prevails over the violent reactions we see borne out of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorders that result in anger, contempt, and a lack of respect for our counsel or leadership: We have not been the examples of the behavior we would prefer to have our Black youth aspire to emulate. All of these factors manifest themselves in the carnage we have seen escalate at an alarming rate.
Now, here is the good news: If we have learned anything from our history, then we know it has taught us how resilient and resourceful we are as a community when we are faced with unimaginable adversity. I remain wholly committed to the belief that we will, once again, "make a way out of no way" to serve and protect our children. Our young are worthy of our best efforts to protect, support, mentor, and guide them. They deserve the opportunity, not only to survive but to thrive.
I know that we are capable of doing more to provide for, as well as to advance, their best interests in a meaningful, sustainable way. Patience, perseverance, and faith are the catalysts. I also know, from personal experience, that most of the young Black men and women to whom I have ever presented a viable opportunity to perform meaningful work or train for a meaningful career, or, who have been presented with the potential for optimizing the quality of life for themselves and theirs have excelled. They have been better students than those with "Ivy League" educations.
So, if we haven't already done so, we must get engaged and connected with our youth who are plagued by being plowed under- underserved and under siege. We must challenge the political and corporate structures and demand accountability, partner with like-minded people in our grassroots, community-based organizations who are first, last, and on-the-ground responders. Together, we must do whatever it takes to save our children.
In the words of Frederick Douglass “It is better to build good children than repair broken men.”
"Our duty's calling.
Divided we are so
One by one we are falling
The front line of the battle is hottest
Your duty is calling
Song Lyrics included are by Steel Pulse, "A Who Is Responsible"
Kiarri T.H. Cheatwood. "To Save the Blood of Black Babies."
Useni Eugene Perkins. "Home is a Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children."
Useni Eugene Perkins. "Harvesting New Generations."