Hello world, hope all is well with you and your families, truly. On September 26th 2008, I had an extremely eventful day with two speaking events in the Bay Area, Alameda County. The first was a "Gang Conference" held at the Fremont campus of Phoenix University. Fortunately, I was a panelist answering questions regarding gangs and the implementation of preventative programs. One of the first questions posed was, "How can we eradicate Gangs?"
In my opinion, that question is beyond comprehension. Unfortunately, this world is full of negative issues associated with gangs and at this stage of human development; gangs provide a family foundation that is not obtained by gang members at home. I hate to say this, but, gang membership is growing (especially in today's poor economy). One reason is because, gangs are surrogate families. They provide everything for their members that are not obtained at home (for example, guidance, attention and most important, unconditional love). Odd as it sounds, gangs provide more structure than the average family unit. Yet, that structure leads to negativity in the fashion of illegal activity.
So, my answer was probably not to the liking of the questioner. I told him that, as along as there are issues within the family structure, gangs will have an unlimited amount of applicants, therefore its eradication is virtually impossible. I then told the attendees that they should make it a priority to embrace their own children and family members so as not to allow a need for those children and family members to seek guidance, attention and love elsewhere. Also, if possible to allow their homes to open to the friends of their own children and family members so that they don't seek out security within the negative influence of gangs.
Later that evening, I found my self on the corner of 24th / Market Street in the city of Oakland. As soon as I got out of my car I saw a "hand to hand" (for those of you who don't know what that means, it was an exchange of product from one person to another). A few minutes later a police curser passed by accompanied by a series of whistles and many people ducking around corners.
The "Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Meltzer's" held an event titled, "Healthy Oakland's Boys to Men All Nighter." The concept of this event derived from many Southern Church events that held members of their congregation in the sanctuary through out the night for prayer and counseling. On this night, Pastor Raymond Lankford and a man who identifies himself by Brother Ayinde, organized this event with the help of, Measure Y--for a safe Oakland and the Healthy Oakland--Urban Male Health Center.
Unlike the morning event where I was a panelist discussing preventative measures, at this event I would speak directly to the gang member, ranging in ages of 11 to 18. By the time the event started, I counted just over seventy Black men. Forty of which were the kids that I would address. While observing the members of the crowd and listing to their conversations, I couldn't help but feel my connection because of the similarities from my own childhood. Some of the kids were malnourished while some wore expensive "Ed Hardy" jeans. Later in the evening when I would normally be in bed, I was introduced to these young men as their next speaker. My heart and soul wants to lead these young men down a positive path so I tell myself as I always do before each speaking event; "Appearance, Personality, Presentation, Content, Consistency." Then before I say my first word, this question comes to mind; "How do we eradicate GANGS? I then answer myself by saying; "maybe this conversation will persuade these young Black men to live a more positive life."
If you the reader know of anyone that maybe susceptible to joining a gang or is currently in a gang, please give them some of your time and help persuade them to live a more positive life!
Question; are you contributing to your own family structure so as to prevent your own child or family members from joining a gang?