“Mr. Shack, where are the leaders and politicians at? Here comes the news … (laughing). We out!”
In the background as the young people were shouting out the problem they kept repeating, "There are not enough programs that work!" So let me keep it real to make it right about "hit-and-miss" programs.
There’s a difference between: 1) an event (annually and usually a fund-raiser); 2) a program (3-5 years, finances run out and program is dissolved); 3) a system (5-8 years, even though institutionalized it loses political or social structure therefore dissolving); and 4) a culture (lifestyle or way of life).
PERSPECTIVE: We have a double standard when it comes to religion and violence.
The goal should be a culture or way of life. If you don’t have a culture you have a cult (disease or mental illness). Culture is the basis for one’s behaviors, attitude, and values; it defines who are you and whose you are. Culture holds people together, culture provides consistency, culture creates communities, culture promotes best practices that are evidence based not just experience based. Examples of the kind of lasting culture I’m talking about are the Bar/Bat-mitzvah, or Rites of Passage Programs.
But the $64,000 question is this: Do we care and are we willing to infuse culture? The $64,000 answer is that we must unify (come together), collaborate (work together), and organize (plan together) to grow fewer violent children and, ultimately, communities.
In every community there is work to be done and it takes all of us to make a difference. Working with Black boys requires we play chess, not checkers, to save them.
Marlon “Shack” Shackelford is Omega Street Advocate Supervisor and a longtime community activist in Dayton.