TO THE EDITOR:
Now that much of the fervor surrounding the youth disturbance at Mayfair Mall on Sunday, January 2, 2011 has subsided, it is a good time to reflect on what we can learn from this unfortunate, unacceptable event.
First, it must be made unequivocally clear that the African American community does not condone this type of senseless, disruptive behavior.
However, shortly after the incident, incendiary statements directed at the African American community by some people makes it obvious that everyone does not believe this to be the case.
Second, as despicable as this incident was, it is important that we not let this characterize all of our African American youth.
I firmly believe that the majority of African American youth are good kids who are not involved in violent, disruptive behavior. But, all too often the focus is put on those who cause problems or do bad things.
This can leave one with the perception that African American youth are out of control and prone to violence.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To eliminate this perception, we must have a balanced view of our youth. We need to highlight and reinforce the positive things our African American youth are doing rather than focusing on the negative acts of a few.
I also believe that when our young people engage in violent disruptive acts, we cannot excuse or tolerate this behavior.
Young people who do bad things must be punished. But what we must do as a community is teach our young people to take more personal responsibility for their actions.
YOUNG PEOPLE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND THE DECISIONS THEY MAKE TODAY CAN HAVE A PROFOUND IMPACT ON THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
Obviously, delivering this message starts in the home with the parents. We all know that young people need guidance and direction starting at an early age.
If they don’t get it, these young people will have no sense of responsibility, no discipline in their lives and a lack of respect for themselves and others.
Mayfair Mall is one of the crown jewels of our community and we cannot let its image be tarnished by a few misguided youth.
When incidents like this happen, rather than isolating ourselves and making inflammatory statements, we should come together as a community; confront the problem and work cooperatively to find solutions.
This is how we can begin to make Metropolitan Milwaukee a stronger more unified community which has a great quality of life for everyone.
President & CEO
Milwaukee Urban League