In part 1 I briefly touched on Black and Brown youth and some popular pitfalls some seem to fall in. In part 2 I will elaborate and rant and mostly ask questions most of which probably won’t have any clear-cut answers to. Let’s begin…
I remember when I was in my late teens early twenties and I was exploring the city more and roaming through Harlem taking in the sights and the people. Harlem has a certain Je ne sais quoi that permeates the streets and smells of struggle and triumph. I remember walking through my neighborhood on the East Side of Harlem aka El Barrio or Spanish Harlem and seeing young teens with these placards around their necks with different teen faces on them. This was the era of the “teams” and getting “light,” and there seemed to be crews of young Black and Brown folks roving through the neighborhood. I never paid too much attention to them because they weren’t particularly remarkable, just different groups of teens going about their business. What was remarkable about these teens were these damn placards they wore around their necks. I stared to pay attention to Black and Brown youth the more I went around outside the more I seen these placards and it didn’t matter if it was 7 teens or 2, these placards was the tie that binds them. I latter found out the awfully sad and incredible depressing meaning behind these seeming fashionable placards. The placards weren’t a cool trend but a walking memorial to often tragically slain teens!
What the actual fuck!!! What kind of abyss has the ghetto been that so many teens know of other teens that were murdered? To be fair, it is plausible that not all of these placards were of slain teens. Let’s just say I saw 100 teens in a span of a day and half had a placard. That’s still 50 teens that knew of other teens that were resting in piece. This is super disturbing. I can speculate as to why these teens were no longer living and I suspect that they were met with tragic ends. What happens to Black and Brown youth in hood that from 13 to about 22 (these are my own estimates for ages not based on empirical data) the death and violence seems to be the fate befallen them? If it is not a “free so and so” t-shirt is a “rip so and so” t-shirt or placard worn by our youth as a memorial to those lost to death or the prison industrial complex.
Is it the lack of guidance whether it is from street family (Big Homies, OG’s) or actual blood relatives that allows our Black and Brown youth to live lifestyles that lead them to early deaths? Is the glorification of power opioids that are swallowed in pill or mix sprite soda form that impairs the judgment of still developing adolescent brains that leads them to do things that bring about their early demises? I don’t know what creates the need or directly contributes to the factors that cause Black and Brown youth to die tragically, but it does seem like with all the alleged information and preventative measure resources available to them they still seem like they are itching to be put on a t shirt.