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At an ethnic media forum held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn last year, my friend Arthur Horwitz, publisher of The Detroit Jewish News, checked a member of the audience (a White male) who abrasively was questioning why ethnic newspapers choose to be different from the mainstream media.
Horwitz, in an unapologetic manner, informed the questioner that The Jewish News exists to maintain and protect the Jewish nation — and of course by extension, the State of Israel.
I have since been ruminating over Horwitz’s statement and the powerful connotation it carries because he made it clear that no one should mistake what his institution does for the Jewish community. It exists to protect that community.
As African Americans, what do we exist to protect? What do our institutions safeguard?
If we have any inkling of where we are headed, we’d perhaps have made the prison industrial complex the foremost issue in our community.
A generation of Black males is being lost before our very eyes and we don’t seem to be bothered by it, and neither is there is a commitment to create a deterrent to the prison pipeline.
I suggest that perhaps every young Black male should read Robinson’s book. But maybe a more effective method for dealing with the problem would be a personal commitment from parents to expose these young men to the realities of the world and what awaits them outside of their schools and homes.
Because if more and more prisons are being built based on the projection that young Black men coming from poverty-stricken homes or uncaring communities will come into contact with the criminal justice system at least once before the age of 15, then something can and must be done.
Every community has the right to self-determination and that is why Mexican Town in Southwest Detroit emerged — out of the segregationist movement when Whites refused to live side by side with those of Hispanic descent.
The Black community has an obligation to be self-determined and that means more of what we can do for ourselves and less of what we expect others to do for us.
Those who have made it into mahogany style corporate offices as executives, comfortable in positions of influence, others fleeing the inner cities, not giving back — call them uppity Negroes — need to be shamed into action. Their hands are not clean and neither are ours.
Because the battle to maintain and protect the survival of the Black community, just as Horwitz of the Jewish News believes and works for the survival of the Jewish nation, rests in our hands.
What we do now will set the stage for things to come.
Yes, it is Black History Month. But history’s verdict will rest at our feet when there are no Black men around.
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