By Jerry Walker -
Whoa Black Betty (Bam-Ba-Lam)
Whoa Black Betty (Bam-Ba-Lam)
Black Betty had a Child (Bam-Ba-Lam)
The damn thing’s gone Wild (Bam-Ba-Lam)
– Lyrics to Song “Black Betty” By Ram Jam 1977
This article is more than just pure journalistic reporting. I have taken certain liberties which I shall refer to as “journalistic license” which synergizes the pure journalistic reporting of news events with social commentary.
In recent months we have watched in horror as certain districts within the inner-city of numerous American Cities have been overrun with wild mobs of black youth. These mobs have appeared in the more pristine areas of such cities as Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Mo., and at the Wisconsin State Fair near Milwaukee. During their wilding, the out-of-control young thugs brutally assaulted, robbed and generally wreaked havoc on the patrons, mainly Caucasians, of the stores, restaurants and entertainment venues of these areas. There was some looting however, fortunately, there were no murders, not yet anyway.
I utilize the term ‘wilding’ as opposed to ‘flash’ in describing these all black mobs because of their insidious, invidious and hideous natures and composition. Flash mobs are a recent phenomenon, occurring within the previous seven years. However, the phase ‘ wilding mob’ was incorporated into the modern English lexicon in 1989 as the result of a brutal assault and rape which took place in New York City’s Central Park. In the early evening of April 19, 1989, a 28 year old investment banker named Trisha Meili, was viciously attacked while jogging in Central Park. The young woman was brutally raped and was nearly beaten to death. According to police reports, there was numerous gangs of black youth entering the park from Harlem that evening resulting in numerous assaults and robberies. However, the assault against Ms. Meili was the most horrid, horrific and horrible. It resulted in an unprecedented public outcry for justice. According to the police reports the suspects were the gangs of black youth who, ” would assault strangers as part of an activity which they referred to as “wilding”. According to New York detectives the word was used by the suspects themselves to describe their actions.
In contrast, ‘ Flash Mobs ‘are more benign in nature. they are usually utilized to promote popular public interest causes, advertisement, or just for entertainment purposes. One notable ‘ Flash Mob’ occurred on November 13, 2010, at the Welland Seaway Mall located in Niagra Falls, New York. A youth coral group appeared simultaneously in the packed food court of the mall and begin to sing the chorus to The Messiah , by George Friedrich Handel. It was such a moving rendition of the powerful composition that diners spontaneously stood and joined in the singing. The video for the event has received thirty-four million views on Youtube. Another took place in Los Angeles, California, on June 6, 2009. Here a group of almost 200 youth including a few older adults, ‘Flash mobbed’ an upscale clothing store on Sunset Boulevard and performed a rousing rendition and dance of M.C Hammer’s You Can’t Touch This. According to eyewitnesses, not one item of clothing on the racks and shelves of the store was touched by the young people on their way out. However, it is important to mention , that most ‘flash mobs’, as were these, are usually almost one hundred percent Caucasian. Again, they are benign in their composition , purpose and nature unlike ‘ wilding mobs’, which are invariably one hundred percent black.
Allow me to mention at this time that I am African American (Negarian). My family moved to Kansas City when I was very young. I was raised in the Wayne Miner Public Housing Projects , in the historic twelfth and Vine and eighteenth and Vine districts . I am a product of the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District having attended form kindergarten through twelfth grade. I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Business and the University of Missouri- Kansas City Graduate School of Business. I served for ten years as an officer in the United States Air Force, attending both the Air Force Institute of Technology and Air Force University, obtaining the rank of Captain. In addition, I taught for six years as a long term substitute teacher and one year as a contract teacher in the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District . The subjects I taught were Algebra, Advanced Algebra, Geometry, Computer Science and Trigonometry. During my seven-year tenure, I taught in six elementary schools, five middle schools and two high schools, with my last two years in the high schools.
I do not condone racism no matter from where it raises its ugly head. The actions of these young black ‘wilding mobs’ by their very nature were racist. The targets of the desultory violence, robbery and general mayhem perpetrated by these mobs were almost exclusively Caucasians. Hate crimes . Unlike many others, mainly within the black community, who have become apologists and generally downplayed the actions of these young criminals, I do not. The horrendous criminal behavior being manifested by young blacks nationwide is the direct result of a degenerative socialization process which begins in the homes in which they are raised. According to recent statistics fifty percent of the homes from which these youth come are matriarchal . Headed by young mothers who themselves are products of dysfunctional single parent homes. I refer to this as generational dysfunctional regression. Many of the youth who are products of such a home environment are themselves dysfunctional and devoid of essential humanistic personality characteristics such as respect for authority and the rights of others, ambition, aspirations, and most importantly educational achievement. I base my observations on my experience as a teacher within the Kansas City , Missouri School District during the period 1999 through 2006 and my own experience of having been raised by a caring mother from who I learned the lessons leading to success.
I was appalled during my very first day as a substitute at the Chester Anderson Alternative Middle School located at that time in Independence, Missouri, a predominantly Caucasian suburb, however still considered to be within the Kansas City Missouri School District (another article in and of itself). Many of the seventh grade students whom I was attempting to teach showed an utter disregard for my authority. They constantly cursed aloud in the classroom and were totally disinterested and inattentive to my math instruction. When I would admonish the disobedient students, I would be immediately involved in intense verbal altercations which in many instances verged on the point of escalating into physical altercations. My initial thoughts were that since this was an alternative school, which was the designation for certain schools for students considered incorrigible and had been expelled from other schools, things would get better. Was I ever wrong. In many of the other schools not so designated, it was much worse.
Toward the end of my tenure I felt more like a corrections officer in a juvenile detention facility than a teacher.
The physical violence in the schools was palpable. In one instance while teaching Algebra at the Paseo Middle School for the Performing Arts, I happened upon one of the other math teachers, a female, being brutally beaten by a group of four seventh grade female students. I immediately intervened, the police were called and the students were expelled. Within the two high schools, Paseo High School for the Performing Arts where I taught Advanced Algebra, and Northeast High School where I taught Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry, I was personally involved, on numerous occasions , in stopping vicious fights between students. Many times I was threatened by students and on two occasions physically assaulted. Once by a female student at Chester Anderson Alternative Middle School and by a senior male student at Northeast.
When I was assigned to Northeast High School in 2004 it was nationally known for the academic achievements of its students and, most notably, the fact that there were in excess of sixty immigrant languages and dialects represented within its student body. In the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 academic years, the district started to bus black students in from middle and south Kansas City. The change was immediate. Chaos, classroom disruptions, violence, verbal and physical attacks on teachers, and most importantly, lower academic, expectations and achievement . These bussed students adversely impacted the entire student body. Many of the immigrant students started to emulate the thuggish way and manner which many of the bussed students conducted themselves. Therefore, I was appalled, however not surprised, when I read in the Kansas City Star (April 3, 2011), that a student who had been expelled from the prestigious Lincoln Academy for bringing a pocketknife to school had been “banned” to Northeast High School as “punishment”. Apparently, Northeast’s descent into decadence was complete to where it had become an “alternative school “.
The finger pointing by the black apologists for these ‘wilding mobs’ span the spectrum from the existence of overt and covert ( institutional ) Caucasian racism, lack of activities for black youth, to poor quality teachers within the school districts. There is a old adage which says, “when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you”‘. Despite the current economic stagnation, ample opportunities exist for those who have either prepared themselves educationally or with some type of marketable skill. Given the age group of the ‘wilding mobs’, and based on historical economic trends, by the time they reach the age for gainful employment the economic woes will likely have passed. However, many of these youths will be unprepared to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented. As a result, they will enter young adulthood bereft of the essential attributes which would allow them to become constructive and productive citizens, and to assimilate or blend within the ‘melting pot’ which is the United States of America. Never in the history of the nation has there been such a propitious time for, as Martin Luther King so eloquently alluded , “the matriculation into the university of human integration”. In regards to overt and covert (institutional) racism, they still exists. However, again in the words of Dr. King quoting what he referred to as an “old Negro spiritual”, “we ain’t where we wanna be, we ain’t where we gonna be, but thank GOD we ain’t where we were”.
As to the lack of activities for black youth. When did it become incumbent upon the areas such as Center City in Philadelphia, and the Plaza in Kansas City to provide ” something to do” for ‘wilding’, broke black youth? These pristine areas are for the entertainment, recreation and shopping for the spending public regardless of skin color. They are not for ‘wilding mobs’ to find ” something to do”.
We know now what that something is. The questions must be asked, “What happened to the billions of dollars poured into the black communities meant to enhance the standard of living and the quality of life for their inhabitants?” “Where is the economic, recreational and entertainment infrastructure for which these monies were intended?” Many of the apologists for these ‘wilding mobs’ are the same individuals and organizations who have received such government funding over the years, even before the War on Poverty declared by then President Lyndon Baines Johnson during his State of the Union Address on January 8, 1964. Then President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated such efforts with his New Deal program in 1933. More recently, “what happened to the billions of dollars appropriated under the Faith Based Initiative program and allocated in 2000 by then President George W. Bush whereby these monies were granted to religious organizations within the black communities for the same purposes established by the New Deal and the War on Poverty?” Again, the outcry from these same recipient organizations and individuals was an attempt to rationalize the actions of these “wilding mobs”, and put the onus for their existence on the “white man”.
In regards to blaming the teachers in the school districts. Though there may be a few ineffective and inept teachers I would venture to say that most of the teachers in the predominantly black school districts throughout the nation are dedicated, committed professionals who teach under severe, adverse situations, circumstances and conditions. the nonpartisan research group Public Agenda conducted and released a study titled “Unruly Pupils Take Toll On Class, Teachers”. This study was released in May 2004. The findings of the study was based on a mail survey of 725 public school teachers in middle and high schools and a telephone survey of 600 parents of public school students in grades five through twelve. Some of the vital findings of the study were:
1. Most teachers in middle and high schools said misbehavior by some students is such a disruptive, pervasive force that a majority of students suffer for it.
2. …the cumulative problem of routine unruly behavior is undermining academic achievement.
3. Approximately one third of the teachers have considered quitting because of the lack of student discipline.
4. One third of the teachers said they know colleagues who had quit or were forced out as a result of student misbehavior.
5. …schools back down from discipline when parents threaten lawsuits.
6. The major cause of the lack of student discipline is that too many parents fail to teach their children discipline.
I am not the only one within the African American community who espouse the precept and concept that contemporary blacks are contributorily negligent for their wretched plight and that they should be held accountable for their actions and the actions of their ‘wild things’. Numerous other African Americans have addressed this issue honestly and forthrightly.
On the evening of Friday, July 29, 2011, in a district similar to the Plaza called Center City located in Philadelphia, a ‘wilding mob’ descended and brutally assaulted and robbed numerous Caucasian patrons. According to the Washington Times, “the worse injury was a man kicked in the head so savagely that he was hospitalized with a fractured skull”. According to the Times, there were four arrests including an eleven-year-old juvenile. Michael Nutter, an African American and the Mayor of Philadelphia, was outraged. According to the Associated Press while addressing the congregation of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church one week after the attacks, he stated that he was speaking as a “proud black man”. He then chided black parents for abrogating their responsibility for “doing a better job raising their children”. Addressing the young thugs he said, “You’ve damaged yourself, you’ve damaged another person, you’ve damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you’ve damaged your own race”. He continued, “Let me speak plainer. That’s part of the problem in the black community… We have too many men making too many babies they don’t want to take care of and then we end up dealing with your children.” Later in an interview with the Associated Press Mayor Nutter reiterated the point that he spoke as “a proud black man in this country”. He went on to say, “It was a message that needed to be said. It needed to be said at this time… people have had enough of this nonsense, black and white”. “This is about personal responsibility “, he concluded, “We have to be straightforward.”
Mayor Nutter had many detractors within the black community disparaging his remarks. These critics, almost without exception, invariably blamed the “white man” for the existence of the ‘wilding mobs’. However there were those who supported him.
In an interview with the Associated Press J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, stated, “Nutter said things that needed to be said”. In a separate interview, Philadelphia’s first African American District Attorney , Seth Williams, also lauded the Mayor for utilizing his elected position as one of the city’s most visible leaders to confront the problem of the ‘wilding mobs’. “What he was saying was perfectly accurate. People needed to hear that”, Williams stated.
In recent years other prominent African Americans have addressed the issues and intervening factors that were the catalyst or impetus resulting in these ‘wilding mobs’.
Bill Cosby, in a 2004 speech addressing the NAACP gathering commemorating the Brown vs Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in education, said, “These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around. I can’t even talk the way these people talk, ‘Why you ain’t’, ‘Where you is’…and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother.” Again, generational dysfunctional regression. Regression instead of progression. Devolution not evolution. Degeneration not regeneration.
Then presidential candidate Barak Obama in a 2008 Father’s Day address to the predominantly African American congregation of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago stated, “. . . we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. . . But we must be honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that too many fathers also are missing–missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it. . . That children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems. . . or become teenage parents themselves.” Again, generational dysfunctional regression.
Dr. John McWhopper, an African American, then an associate professor of linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley, published a book in the summer of 2000 entitled Losing the RaceSelfSabotage in Black America in which he concluded , “. . . that the lagging academic performance of African American students isn’t caused by the residual effects of prejudice or poor schools. but by a ‘cult of anti-intellectualism’ that has infected black America”. Dr. McWhopper based his premise and conclusion on his observation and study of the performance of black students on the Berkeley campus. “The black students were the worse students on campus”, he wrote. “they are held back by three ‘defeatist thought patterns”. These ‘defeatist thought patterns’ according to Dr. McWopper were:
1. the Cult of Victimology , which leads blacks to blame their problems on white racism.
2. the Cult of Separatism, which makes blacks think that whatever whites do, they should do the opposite; and
3. the Cult of Anti-Intellectualism, which hold that scholastic excellence is a white thing.
While teaching Algebra at Central Middle School, one of my female students approached my desk while I was grading the results of a test which I had just administered. She said to me in a very serious manner, “Mr. Walker, a lot of the students know Algebra but they did not want other students to know that they know.” In my naiveté and ignorance I asked her why that was. She replied, “They would be made fun of (ridiculed) or jumped on (beaten).” I was taken aback after it finally dawned on me what she was saying. In essence, a classic example of the “cult of anti-intellectualism” in middle school.
Kansas City, Philadelphia and many other of the affected cities have instituted curfews in order to stop the ‘wilding mobs’. This action is more proactive that pre-emptive. Law enforcement should identify these mobs as they form and intercept them before they reach certain areas. This is imperative in order to protect the law abiding, spending public out for a night on the town.
This article is timely even though the last of these events took place two months ago, in August 2011. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it is not just pure journalistic reporting but also social commentary. Note also that these “wilding mobs” incidents in 2010 and 2011 took place during the months April through August, warmer months when school is not in session. Be assured if a more direct, confrontational and preemptive approach is not taken by law enforcement, we will witness these violent, horrendous events again during the summer of 2012, only on a wider more destructive scale.