|SOMETHING TO KNOW AND PONDER ON 7 May 2016||| Print ||
SOMETHING TO KNOW AND PONDER ON
7 May 2016
Dear Friends and Patriots,
This week a conference was held in Birmingham, AL, sponsored by Cities United and hosted by Birmingham’s mayor, William Bell. Cities United is a national action partnership organization with the objective of eliminating violence-related deaths of African American males. They cite as their principle the premise that African American men and boys matter and are assets to our nation. The conference was attended by mayors and leaders from 32 cities and towns from across the country.
Here’s some information put out during the conference:
- Two to three percent of the population are the ones that are creating the most trouble . . . [in] any city.
- According to recent data from the CDC, homicide is the leading cause of death for black men ages 15 to 34 nationwide. Black males in that age group are 10 times more likely to be murdered than whites the same age.
- In most cities, anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of murder victims are African American men and boys.
Attendees at the two-day session agreed that the root cause goes deeper. They note that many in impoverished areas of their cities feel sense of hopelessness that makes them think that nothing – including life – matters.
While you’re contemplating those statements, please peruse the 14 steps Cities United publishes as needs to resolve the problem of violence the organization exists to correct:
led by local government in partnership with the community. This means committed leadership at the top – governor, mayor, police chief, superintendent of public instruction, local chief of health and human services, elected officials in high-crime
neighborhoods and community leaders. This effort must be maintained and transcend local election cycles. This also means training leaders on effective
strategies to achieve community-wide results.
2. Create a local leadership team. Organize a cross-sector Anti-violence and
Community Stabilization group in every city to facilitate efforts within city government and between city government and the community.
3. Connect city leaders in a national network. Help city leaders find out what works in other cities and support them as they borrow and modify successful strategies.
4. Engage the leaders of the ‘violence factories’ in the conversation. Every city knows who they are. Bring them to the table and get them to enter a dialogue to save lives. Incentivize their participation. Get comfortable with their presence—they are critical to lasting change in communities. Meet them where they are!
5. Create a city-wide work group or commission. Tap committed individuals to join an effort to improve community, youth and family outcomes.
6. Be systematic about targeting resources where they are most needed. Create grids across the city to identify the targeted geography and understand problem neighborhoods. Not every neighborhood is equally impacted. Cities must isolate pockets of violence and concentrate efforts and resources to maximize effectiveness.
7. Construct and implement a multi-year plan of action. Document, monitor, and measure outcomes that build in flexibility to modify the plan when outcomes and circumstances warrant.
8. Develop an integrated response strategy.
• Across government agencies
• Across public and private sectors
• Across age groups
• Across civic and community organizations
• Across faith institutions
9. Teach every child to read. Poor reading skills do not automatically lead to violent behavior, but data from various studies indicate that below grade-level reading ability is significantly related to the development of aggressive anti-social
• Four of five incarcerated juvenile offenders read two or more years
below grade level. A majority are functionally illiterate.
• Seventy percent of the prison population reads below grade level.
10. Workforce readiness. Nothing stops a bullet like a job! Ensure that all young men are prepared for post- high school education or vocational training that leads to the well-paying jobs in your city. Providing youth with summer jobs sets them up for success by giving them a great learning opportunity.
11. Provide community-wide mental health services. Remove the stigma associated with asking for help and ensure that everyone who suffers from mental health issues receives the care they need. Make the services easily accessible.
12. Engage and support parents and families. Help mothers, fathers, and concerned family members to lead their families and raise healthy, well-functioning children.
13. Stop the cycle of violence. Address retaliation through programs such as Cure Violence’s “Violence Interrupters” or Omega Boys Club’s “Street Soldiers”.
14. Keep the lights on. Hold public events frequently and at all hours of the
24-hour day in the city’s most violence-prone places.