We stop to mourn the loss of a bright and beautiful teenager who's untimely death unfortunately represents a reality for many of our families and today's youth. Ms. Hadiya Pendleton, like so many youth, was doing what she was supposed to be doing when tragedy came and sought her out and took her young life.
Changing The Culture
Chicago has suffered over 43 homicides this year and most of those have been among Black youth. This is a tragedy repeated over and over in our city streets. It simply must stop.
I have heard that many sociologists believe that when something is believed for about a 25 year duration of time (a generation by many accounts) that there is a paradigm shift in the culture itself so far as beliefs and subsequent behaviors are concerned. The Black community has been subject to the message of "no snitching" and "silence" for so long that there is a new standard of morality that believes that people should simply endure the abuse of criminals in the name of being "Black" and remain silent.
Let it be clear, people that hurt, harm and endanger your family, neighborhoods, and communities don't care about YOU. They care less about your well being no matter how well you know them or their family. Like Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, they are PUNKS and further, Community Terrorists, that need to be placed in jail or taken off the streets As we will note, there is something that we must do as church to redeem these before they passed the point of no return.
Some years ago, I developed the Community Hero program. Community hero is designed to do one thing, combat the message and image that fighting for our community and turning in criminals is a bad thing and makes one a "snitch". Riding the neighborhood of community terrorists makes you a HERO, not a snitch. You are a HERO for fighting for what is right and sharing the information necessary to liberate your family and community.
The "no snitch" message has been successful because it was first delivered in 2004 by the gang and drug sales culture through hip-hop music and the hip-hop culture. This is why it has such a stronghold on our youth and on our streets. This message has existed for years based on mistrust of the government and authority.
The problem is that authorities left plenty of evidence for why the community can't trust them. The "war on drugs" we all know now was no more than a war on Blacks...and that is simply the ugly fact...That so called war, destroyed the family for multiple generations in the Black community removing the men and we can all see the results. So YES...there is a distrust of authority that cannot go overlooked and should be addressed if the intent is to overcome the problem and renew this generation.
The Community Hero message needs to be delivered to children first and needs to continue to be perpetuated so that our youth can be affirmed that doing the right thing for others, is the right thing for them as well.
In addition, authorities, have an obligation to protect those who come forth with information. As we mentioned, the business of crime is what it is. A business and there are both clients and managers of it. However, as community advocates we must strive to make our police departments tow the line, no matter how difficult or touchy it may be. Yes it takes some "in your face' conversations in order to help the community as a whole. That we must be committed to do.
Thank God that we can have a "good time" in fellowship and service with the Lord. However, if we want our neighborhoods delivered of crime and violence, the institution of the church must first become involved and engaged in what is going on in the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, in many of these crime ridden neighborhoods, the church is a sleeping, money collecting giant. Much of the crime occurs wight in the church neighborhood. Some stick their head out to prop up a tent for a few days, feed a few folk every now and then, or may offer clothes or direct towards shelter and bill pay, but what about the more enduring and substantive issues?
Rather than giving them what they are trying to rid themselves of, like more hip-hop music and worldly personas, what about changing the minds hearts, and attitudes of the individuals most likely to perpetrate crime and violence and subsequently spend their life in prison or tied to the system? It is certainly more convenient to pass them along and allow the same government, that we distrust, to effect change, but what are we really doing? Beyond Sunday AM, is the church engaging and challenging the community, advocating for better services, speaking to our young men encouraging and teaching them to be Fathers and speaking to our young ladies supporting them that all is not lost, that there still is a bright hope for the future? Are we challenging political leaders or simply making as many friends with politicians as we possibly can?
No, challenging and holding folk accountable, is not profitable monetarily. It won;t make the church overflow with members either. However, it is rewarding to see lives change for the better, but it takes some laborers. It takes some individuals dedicated to the cause, willing to deal with the same ignorance that once entrapped themselves. BUT it is worth it! Lives will be saved and communities can change as a result.
Someone along the way could possibly have been the catalyst that saved, if not Hadiya, countless other young ladies and men. Being the one that is in touch with the community may stop some young person or aged person for that matter, from doing something as stupid as shooting in a crowd of people killing and taking an innocent life. That is foolishness, stupidity and WE, the truly empowered church cannot rest. We must do something about what we face and believe me, we will.
Please pray for Hadiya's family and for the many other countless lives that have been left to suffer in the wake of this modern crime spree. This young lady was much greater than any tragedy and I believe that in her death, she will live on as a motivating force for those of us left to do more than what we have done.
Pray that those who know who did this will be a HERO and come forward with information to help this family heal. It is time for a change, and it must begin with someone, it may as well be with YOU!