SOCIAL ANGST is more than just a blog, it is an invitation to aid in the building of wealth through the shared task of information distribution and discussion. It is a call to engage – engage in society, engage with your peers, engage in your political system, engage in spreading the wealth that is information, and engage in multiplying that wealth through discussion – so that collectively we may become more socially aware, more socially responsible, more socially vocal and ultimately more socially valuable.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Social Commentary:
Where's the Villiage?

I’m getting old.

I find myself saying things that old people say:

“I remember when you couldn’t walk down your street acting a fool because you knew one of your neighbors would check you and report your misbehavior to your parents. For that matter, I remember when the word neighbor meant more than the guy occupying the house next to you.”

Oh how times have changed.

Last school year, one of my best friends, a teacher at a middle school, told me this story:

A student at her school, a miscreant of sorts, purposefully decided to cross the street in front of a moving car. The male driver of the car, a parent of another student, stopped short not to hit the kid. The adult driver rolled down the window to reprimand the child (middle school students are children) and was met with a disrespectful “f*** you”. The child then proceeded to assault the driver’s vehicle. Having had enough, the driver exited his car and grabbed the child. The scene ended with police escorting the driver (in handcuffs) and the child to the local precinct.

My friend and I had a rather candid discussion on the incident. There were so many fascinating elements to the story. Did the driver overstep his bounds by laying his hand on the child? Was the assault of his vehicle justification for his behavior? Do you let a 12 year old disrespect you in front of your own children, and if so, what do your children take away from that? Does whooping the behind of a disrespectful child benefit society at large? Is whooping the behind of a disrespectful child worth going to jail? Would you be upset if someone laid a hand on your disrespectful little brat?

In all honesty, I champion the actions of the driver. I am a firm believer that it takes a village.

Fast forward. Last week, a 15-year old girl was beaten and gang raped outside a school dance – while twelve people watched. The two hour long incident was witnessed by a dozen bystanders, none of which offered any help to the young victim. No help – no intervention, no call to authorities, no attempt to get involved - at all.

How did we get here? How did we get to this place of total indifference for our fellow man? My Uncle Ernest, Aunt Dorothy, and Grandmother would blame the disconnect between the Black community and the church. My mother and godmother would argue that Black parents aren’t parenting – partly because they are ill equipped and partly because family economics (i.e. check chasing) leaves children to parent themselves. My father, a retired NYPD detective, would insist that we have allowed the government to dictate how our community rears our kids. He would say that fear of litigation and prosecution keeps citizens from reprimanding children other than our own. Of course, they are all right.

There was a time when raising children was a collaborative effort and the byproducts of that village mentality were respect, shame, and responsibility. Children who are brought up with village mentality are mindful of their behavior because someone could be watching. That is a fear we all benefit from. Unfortunately, many parents are uncomfortable with other people reprimanding their children. If their child acts out, these parents want you to call them so the issue can be resolved between parent and child. The problem is that when parents become the sole motivation of fear for their children, they also become sole authority figures; leaving teachers, neighbors, and family members robbed of communal authoritative power in the process.

So, how do we go about reinstating the importance of Black community? Baby steps I suppose. Introduce yourselves to your neighbors. Exchange email address with your child’s teacher, principal and school security officer. Then, be ready to face the truth about your child (for undoubtedly, he's no angel) and remember that if your child misbehaves, he has a responsibility to apologize, publicly, to those he offended.

If that fails, don’t worry, I have a plan that will allow everyone to get involved...

What are your thoughts on our lacking sense of community?

Whooping a child's behind IS activism. Getting involved IS ACTIVISM.
Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl