“We’re the ones…”
prominent African Americans would prefer to ignore the AIDS crisis, but
the recently released Black AIDS Institute report “We’re the Ones We’ve
Been Waiting For” makes the case that indifference is irrational. The
most startling statistic: half of all those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in
2004 were black, a 100 percent increase from the rate in 1985. On top
of that, in 2004, 48 percent of all Americans living with AIDS were
There is no indication that this trend will
be easily reversed. According to the report, 70 percent of all new
teenage HIV/AIDS cases in 2004 were among blacks, compared with only 15
percent among whites and 13 percent among Latinos. Also in 2004, 50.78
percent of all those who died from AIDS were black.
The message of the report, as its title suggests, is that African
Americans have to be ready to assume responsibility for changing their
personal conduct to end this crisis. No one is coming to the rescue.
There must be a dynamic effort to inform the community and induce
people to alter behavior. It is also critical to assure that those who
are infected receive appropriate treatment.
It is unacceptable to permit an avoidable disease to impair black progress.
Who protects the community?
personal relationships are as strong as the bond between parents and
children. The desire to protect one’s offspring is so intense that some
parents lose sight of the importance of discipline. When that happens,
the whole community suffers.
Years ago, it was
expected that parents would take responsibility for the public misdeeds
of their children. If a boy broke a window, his father or an uncle
would replace it. If a child damaged a neighbor’s property, someone in
his family would repair it. Appropriate discipline of the offending
child would follow.
When youngsters could not resolve personal conflicts among themselves,
then parents would inevitably become involved. The objective was always
to preserve the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. Constant physical
conflicts among young men were considered offensive.
An important element of the self-policing strategy of the community was
the special status of adults. Youngsters were expected to respect all
adults, and even unrelated adults had the authority to reprimand, at
least verbally, any public misconduct of youngsters. Of course, the
manner and language of the reprimand had to be appropriate.
Times have changed from those days. Violence in television, films and
computer games is common. Youthful conflicts that were once settled
with the exchange of harsh words now spark gunfire. Mild rebukes of
inappropriate youthful conduct can provoke a violent response by
indignant parents. The social fabric necessary to maintain community
civility has been irreparably torn.
Commonplace now is the irate protest of an indignant mother over the
prosecution of her son for a violent crime when the evidence against
him is overwhelming. Those who know and respect Rev. Bruce Wall are
saddened and dismayed to see him come forward to assert publicly the
innocence of his 15-year-old son in an armed robbery on Nov. 11 in Hyde
Park. The son has not even been charged, but is only a person of
Rev. Wall’s action is understandable as a parent, but it is somewhat
intemperate as a community leader. The burden of leadership requires
one to act for the highest good of all. The problem of parents
harboring violent criminals who are their children is so significant
that it would have been wiser for a leader not to appear to be
sanctioning that conduct.
“Well, it’s not going away, so I guess we must do something.”