Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The New Black Codes… the Codes of Silence!

October 15, 2009

It used to be rare to report a violent death involving a child or teenager, and it brought astonishment and outrage to the community. But today it is no longer shocking and actually routine in some areas. The waste of a young life and empathy for the families are now all too common. Nearly everyone is talking about the problems in our society with the violence amongst our children and teens. Often when law enforcement officials step up the management and control of the youth in certain neighborhood and districts some residents insist the department is enforcing "The Black Codes."

Although the Civil War had left the South in political and social turmoil, white Southerners were intent on controlling blacks. It was through the creation of the Black Codes that whites discovered they could control almost all aspects of life of Southern blacks.

Almost every aspect of life was regulated, including the freedom to roam. Many codes prohibited blacks from entering towns without permission. In Opelousas, Louisiana, blacks needed permission from their employer to enter the town; a note that stated the nature and length of the visit was required. Any black found without a note after ten o'clock at night was subject to imprisonment.

No community would allow this to happen again but babies killing babies call for desperate measures. Studies reveal that while African Americans comprise 13.5% of the U.S. Population, 43% of all murder victims are African American, most were killed by other African Americans, and many by children or young adult males. So what are law enforcement agencies to do? How are they going to solve the crimes and punish the guilty? How are they to stop the killing? How can they counter the codes of silence, and do away with this "no snitching" mentality? This code of silence and no snitching attitude is another form of self hatred. It is an extreme dislike of oneself.

The Community Policing Dispatch of July 2009 addressed the dilemma with the article "Combating the Stop Snitching Code of Silence."

"Communication between law enforcement and the communities they serve is essential to successful community policing. The willingness of community members to share vital information and participate in partnership-enhancing activities with their local law enforcement agencies has been a successful strategy for addressing and preventing crime.

"Unfortunately, intimidation and the fear of retaliation from individuals involved in illegal activities are straining the relationship between law enforcement and communities. Drug dealers, gang members, and other criminals are promoting a stop snitching culture that often threatens violence against people who provide information to, or cooperate in any way with, the police. The resulting unwillingness to work with local law enforcement is jeopardizing law enforcement initiatives throughout the country."

Dr. Carter G. Woodson noted "when you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions." We must develop empowerment strategies. Far too often, the only guidance young Black males receive comes after they have committed an offense against society.

Dr. Woodson also wrote in his book "The Mis-education of the Negro," "to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching. He wrote 'the thought of' the inferiority of the Negro is drilled into him in almost every class he enters and in almost every book he studies." We understand Black male youths face formidable challenges to their educational development. Statistics on educational attainment would suggest that many Black youth are at-risk in the nation's schools.

The Black community must educate our youth and the community-at-large to save the children and tell them that when they report a crime, they are not "snitching," but only helping to keep themselves and their families safe. It is our duty to save them and us. When it comes right down to it, we get what we allow, but we don’t deserve what we are getting.


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