THE “STREETS” NEED US: ACTION IS OUR ONLY OPTION

Have you ever seen this meme floating around social media? It reads:

I will kidnap you, raise you, then return you to your family so they can bury you.

Sincerely,

The Streets

The deep and dark reality of what goes on in the “streets” can be a cold and cruel one for many people to understand and accept. Every day, whether through the video games we play, the music we listen to, the TV shows and movies we watch, or the real life drama we see play out each and every day, we see the “streets” sensationalized in a way that appears attractive and exciting.

The reality, however, is that the “streets” have left so many families heartbroken. So many communities have been left to pick up the pieces, while seeking to find answers and solutions to the devastation caused by many within their communities who have chosen to embrace the “street” mentality that relentlessly keeps their communities under siege.

My heart grieves while writing this, as I hear of yet another story regarding another one of our Black sisters and/or brothers who have lost their lives due to senseless violence.

And while I know there are so many factors that have led to these issues and contributed to these problems, it is beyond time that we face the reality that we are in a war with the “street” mentality and if ever there was a time we needed to step up and deal with the reality of what we are faced with in our communities and neighborhoods – now is that time.

There has been no one who has been a bigger advocate for Black people than I have, but as I see the recent surge of violence that has descended upon the nation, and in particular the Greater Houston area, I can see that our communities and neighborhoods are collectively on fire, and it is time to put the fire out by any means necessary.

That’s right, everybody…NEWSFLASH:

Our collective house is on fire and people are inside. So what do we do?

As with dealing with a real fire, we are taught to call the fire department because they are professionally trained to put out a dangerous fire. The question is, however, do we as people watching this real fire unfold before our very eyes, just sit back and do nothing to save ourselves or the people who may be trapped inside that burning house? Does our fear of being burned alive, or does our fear of dying, consume us and override our desire to save our fellow man or woman and save them from utter destruction? Am I really my brother or sister’s keeper?

It is 2017, and Black people are dealing with some major fires, that are not only consuming our collective communities and neighborhoods, but fires that are also consuming our very lives.

As a people, we are getting attacked in so many areas that we can’t seem to keep up and develop a collective strategy to deal with them. It is time for us to stop solely blaming the external forces who have contributed to our current reality of “street” violence, and take responsibility for our current situation. We are the most resilient people on the planet, and we have endured far too much from our original oppressors in America, to now become our own oppressors.

I know many of us have heard that old adage: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

We have to love ourselves and our communities enough, to see these issues as a cause worth fighting for. It is naïve to think we can individually tackle every issue effectively and expediently on our own, but collectively, even a remnant of us can make a difference – especially if we are operating out of a sincere love for our people and our communities.

“Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” is a 1974 R&B song, first recorded by blues and R&B superstar Bobby “Blue” Bland, with a chorus that goes:

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city

Ain’t no love in the heart of town

Ain’t no love, it sure is a pity

Ain’t no love cause you ain’t around

Many of our young people don’t know what love looks or feels like. Many of our young people are being raised by parents or guardians who have never known what love looks or feels like, so there has been several generations of African American youth, since desegregation, who have fallen victim to this false sense of reality and glorified sense of pride, that keeping it real for the “streets”, or being a “goon”, or being a “doughboy”, makes you popular or respected.

The “streets” have no loyalty. Trust me. I’m a living witness that they don’t, and I have a testimony. Now, maybe you know of someone (I doubt it very seriously) who has successfully made it in the “streets.” I can almost assure you that whoever we think about as being successful in the “streets” has either been arrested, physically assaulted, robbed or even murdered.

There is no safety zone in the “streets,” and it’s time we kept it real with our youth and start providing them with alternatives to “street” life, which includes opportunities and resources.

I have to admit, I totally understand how dealing with the myriad of issues we encounter in our communities everyday can lead to discouragement, hopelessness, fear and fatigue. But, I’m here to encourage you – now isn’t the time to give up hope. You can’t quit and you can’t give up now.

So I’m calling on ALL our real community leaders and neighborhood soldiers who are not afraid to go in the “streets” and take our communities back.

We need you now, and we need you more than ever!

The “streets” need us and our communities need us.

At the end of the day – Action is Our Only Option. Are you down to make a difference to take back our communities, our neighborhoods and our youth? I sure am!

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com