Saturday, December 17, 2011

If you have teenage sons, nephews, brothers, or--equally important--are concerned about the environment in which so many of our kids are growing up, you should watch these two videos below.

You've likely seen the first one. It went viral in January, and shows an uncle beating his teenage nephew with a belt. The uncle was outraged that his nephew had been on Facebook glorifying and claiming to be in a gang. So in an attempt to discipline--and it's safe to say, embarrass--the kid, the elder recorded a minute-long video and forced his nephew to denounce gang activity. I, like millions of people, watched this video nearly a year ago when I saw it posted online. It was shared over several days on Facebook and other social media sites, sparking much debate as to whether the uncle had gone too far. Some commended the uncle for doing what he thought was necessary to keep his nephew from going down a dangerous path. Others believed the uncle should've handled it differently. And some even found the video funny.

Well, unfortunately, in this second video, this time a news clip, it tells how 16-year-old Michael Taylor was shot and killed last week outside of his home in Terrytown, Louisiana. Michael is the same kid who was in the viral video nearly a year ago being disciplined by his uncle. According to a story by news station WDSU, Michael's family believes his glorification of gang life, which apparently had continued, might have led to his death. Yesterday, police arrested a 21-year-old suspect in the killing.

Both videos are embedded below, with the older one first, and you should watch them in that order.

After our young people have been slain over senseless violence, it's too late to say you wish you would've done more. We need to acknowledge that this is happening far too often in predominantly black neighborhoods and schools, and not show a lack of concern if it isn't our kids or if we don't live in one of those neighborhoods.

We also need to stop condoning rap music and rappers who glorify gang life in their music, which has surged over the last few years. I've seen firsthand how kids will wear red bandannas (they call them flags) and holler "su woo" because Lil Wayne or Game does it. Those rappers will say that they aren't concerned about being role models and it's the parents' job to raise their kids. That's true, but that's also why I don't buy Lil Wayne or Game's CDs anymore. See how easy that is.

For Charlotte, below are a few organizations (click on the links) in which you can get involved to try to make a difference in a young boy's (or girl's) life, so hopefully he doesn't end up like Michael.


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