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Is it fear or apathy that must be overcome to save Black boys?

caines | 10/18/2012, 5:30 a.m.

As the Black community comes to terms with the troubling rise in gun violence between our young men, we must also take a good look in the mirror. In many respects, this younger generation our boys and girls that are growing into men and women have been shaped by our involvement in their lives or lack thereof. It would be easy to blame the increase in gangs in Miami, the outbursts of anger that turn into bloodshed and other societal ills on videos, R-rated films and the Internet. And while these new age wonders have had a profound impact on shaping the minds of our children, they do not have the last word. What really matters is the adults who surround a child, the examples that they set and the way they negotiate their own lives. As the comedian Flip Wilson used to say, What you see is what you get. In generations past, neighborhoods and communities worked in unison to raise, enlighten and protect children. Every grandmother was your grandmother and every dad was your dad. However, today that just isnt the case. But is this because we have grown afraid of our own kids or is it because weve allowed them to raise themselves? You cant be a parent and be a pal at the same time. But many new mothers and fathers try to play both roles, often to a tragic end. If it isnt fear that is paralyzing us while our young boys engage in reckless gunfire on our streets, what is keeping adults from springing into action? Perhaps its plain old apathy. You see, in order to really impact a youths life, one has to take risks. You have to reveal yourself, be honest about your own shortcomings and be willing to fail. Not every young adult wants to be reached, wants to be saved or wants a chance to move beyond the streets. But most do. Kids have always needed surrogate mothers and fathers not to replace their own but to supplement their actions. They have been part of the foundation of the Black community that has kept negative forces at bay generation after generation. The examples of violence that we see happening today confirm how essential the village is to the welfare and future of our children. Now its time to ask, will the real villagers please step forward?