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Home > The Glover Report > The Glover Report: How To Curb Baltimore's Violence? Reconnect Black Men with Their Families

The Glover Report: How To Curb Baltimore's Violence? Reconnect Black Men with Their Families

Bmorenews Publisher Doni Glover and Bryan Easley talk to 14-17 year old males charged with adult crimes on L-section at the Baltimore City Detention Center circa 2006.

By Doni Glover, Publisher

(BALTIMORE – November 19, 2015) - The world is seemingly clueless as to why the murder rate continues to soar in Baltimore. All of these experts have failed to correctly identify the root causes of why our young black men are so very deadly. I argue that unless we forge strong policies that reconnect these men with their children, only mayhem will follow. Unless we truly wrap our brains around why are young black men are feeling so unwanted as a community, black – white and otherwise, things will only get bloodier.

The fact of the matter is that the black family unit has been under attack from the very beginning of our tenure in North America. Family members were commonly sold to different slave owners, often in other states.

Nonetheless, a powerful black love emerged within the souls of many heroes and sheroes over the centuries, people who demonstrated the most courageous leadership amidst the most challenging of times. Slavery would end, and then came the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.

Through it all, the black family survived. Yes, there were still lynchings. Yes, prison was a usual threat. However, black love and the support of family would somehow persevere and the heavens would continue to send great voices to speak life over black people. From Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman to Marcus Garvey, WEB Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others, the African American community became the moral conscience of this country – the barometer by which this nation could measure its true growth and development. Despite the most horrific of existences, black people shook off the shackles of slavery and persevered in every discipline fathomable.

The African American was maintaining, despite an uneven playing. He would also fight in most of this country’s wars – many times to return and still be treated like a second class citizen. Still, we, as a people, did continue to rise. Further, the black family was relatively intact through the middle of the 20th century.

To me, it is the illegal drug epidemic that has been most damaging to Black America as of late, along with other subtle yet significant nuances of an institutionalized racism the world has never seen. In short, the American court system has been an albatross around the black community’s neck from ‘Jump Street’. And this includes a child support system that further complicates the trajectory for many black men in America. Granted, child support is a burden to all races in America, but when you add it to the already heavy course load for an American of African descent, I am not at all surprised by the currently vicious level of violence in Baltimore.     

Did you know, for example, that America incarcerates 25% of the world’s inmates with black men starring at roughly 42-44% of that prison demographic? It’s astonishing, to say the least.   

Yes! Between the world of illegal drugs and the court system, a terribly high percentage of black men are adjudicated. According to a Huffington Post article published in February, “[T]here are more African American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.”

America suffers from an over-incarceration problem and it has heavily impacted black men on a whole. Consequently, this has caused havoc on the status of the black family. This is particularly meaningful when one considers that for a long time, black children were reared in two-parent households. One Desoto Times-Tribune article even suggests that blacks were getting married at a slightly higher rate than whites through 1940. The article goes on to say that the issue is illegitimacy and that only blacks can fix this problem of high murders. I slightly disagree. I think the rest of the country has to be a part of the solution. The media, for instance, paints the face of illegal drugs in America as being heavily related to young black men. However, these men generally have no planes or boats or the cash to bankroll the drugs that permeate American streets. That takes Wall Street money, and most sane people know it.

Nonetheless, there is a stress level in the black community that is beyond unhealthy. Since integration, blacks have been afforded to move beyond the city limits to the suburbs. Today, Baltimore’s population is 60% of what it used to be. Once a majority black city, today, many blacks now live in Woodlawn, Randallstown and Owings Mills.

With this urban flight, the city was left with a lot of people who cannot afford to leave. In some ways, our best and brightest fled for the seemingly safer comforts of Baltimore County. At the same time, many of their roots and memories are in the inner-city. I should add that we lost a lot of black businesses in the city via our mass exodus, too.

As we moved out, our neighborhoods began to diminish. Drugs became ubiquitous. The crack epidemic of the 80s would wreak unimaginable devastation onto countless souls. The mortgage lending crisis, quite possibly, was the nail in the coffin as even more vacant houses emerged across the city.

Now, where I differ with George Mason Professor Walter Williams is here: Yes, black people must fix our problems. However, I also think the government has a responsibility to help in the process. We call ourselves world leaders, yet we have essentially over-incarcerated one segment of the population and thrown away the key. How’s that going to work out when these men finally serve their time?

Say what you want about President Barack Obama, but what leader of the free world has ever gone and had a conversation with black men in prison? For me, this was profound!

The bottom line is that black men have been away from their families on a massive scale for far too long. Over-sentencing and Three-Strikes-You’re-Out policies have created a demographic that is terribly undesirable in society. To America, these men are solely ex-felons. To Black America, these men are our brothers, sons, uncles, and fathers.

Therefore, if you truly want to drop the murder rate significantly, society has to make a solid effort to get these fathers back into their children’s lives. Everybody knows that the James Evans character on Good Times sitcom is Black America’s collective idea of what being a black father is all about. Regardless of anything, he was there. He was present in the lives of his family members. Period.

Unfortunately, we, as a society, act as if we do not know that all of this over-incarceration comes with a price. When you treat people like animals, when you give them the worst schools, when you make employment damn near impossible, when you every single thing possible to ostracize an entire segment of the American fabric – what else do you expect from these men?

This is not to excuse the rabid violence on our streets; not at all! It is only to suggest that America has helped destroy the black family with its policies and if things are truly going to turn around, these men will need the most comprehensive set of wrap-around services ever.

In the State of Maryland, the Maryland State Lottery, for example, has raked in a cool $13 billion since its inception. Yet, we have schools without books in Baltimore City. This is simply unconscionable.

So, let me just get this right. Black people, who are heavily Democrat by the way, continue to vote for people who apparently cannot serve them any better and who help usher forth policies that have in effect created a super-poor environment, littered with vacant houses and a serious lack of recreation centers loaded with state-of-the-art computers. Instead, we simply conclude we need more police and more prisons. Baltimore is 9-to-1 Democrat and yet, things are only getting worse for black people here.

I am not at all suggesting that Republican policies in Baltimore are the answer. But it does beg the question of what kind of policies are being supported by our Democratic elected officials. Do they truly understand what Black Baltimore needs?

At the end of the day, we are producing increasingly violent black men and increasingly shattered black families. I personally think the number one issue in Annapolis in the next Maryland General Assembly should deal with reconnecting black men with their families and ensuring that we cut the recidivism rate in half. Then and only then will we, as a society, effectively begin to curb the murders.

Black men do not feel welcome in this society. Something’s gotta be done to change this perception. If not, the murders will only continue at increasingly record levels. The uprising following the burial of Freddie Gray clearly demonstrated that the current Baltimore leadership is damningly out of touch with the reality of life for black men. I ask you: How long can we afford to ignore black men and their plight in Baltimore?

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