Sunday, May 27, 2007

Remember the 60 Minutes story on how blacks view snitching...

I think it aired sometime in April. If Ed Bradley was still alive I would believe that it would have been his story. That's not to say only blacks can do a story on this.

A rapper (gangsta' rapper) has as part of his act a no snitching message. I don't recall his name sadly, but I do remember that the 60 Minutes journalist asked if he would alert the police to a serial killer next door. His response was that he would just move.

We saw some impressionable teens talking about not snitching to the police. So they're being influenced by it sadly. What could be nothing more than a stage act or gimmick is turning into a real truth. And the result could be that criminals may get away with a lot if law-abiding citizens refuse to cooperate with police.

This is not to say I believe entertainment can cause violence or any other "anti-social" messages (I use anti-social for a lack of a better term), but I think mass media can provide good messages instead of the negative. If you want negative and "anti-social" messages in media make sure the more impressionable don't get wind of it, keep it for the older people who do understand that this is not acceptable. It's idealistic though, children will find their way into so much crap over time.

So this brings me to a Mary Mitchell column from May 22nd. She talks about this phenomena of no snitching...
More important, there's a misguided notion among black youth that it's not cool to "snitch" -- as if there is really such a thing as honor among criminals.

But here's the really sad part:

"No-Snitch" didn't start out as a plea for black youth to protect carjackers, rapists and murderers.

"No-Snitch" is a response to the prosecutors' practice of locking up low-level workers in the drug trade and leaning on them to give up somebody in order to avoid long mandatory sentences.

It doesn't seem to matter that these workers have about as much information about the drug kingpins' operations, as say, reporters had about how Conrad Black was allegedly stealing millions from Chicago Sun-Times' shareholders.

Obviously, when suspects are facing decades in prison on drug conspiracy charges, they will tell prosecutors anything they want to hear.

Cooperating with police to put heartless criminals behind bars isn't snitching. But too many people are giving cover to murderers, rapists and carjackers because they don't understand the difference.

Frankly, if former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Hyde Park had been mugged in a different neighborhood, police would probably still be looking for the suspect. Thankfully, two students from the University of Chicago heard Braun's screams. One of them called 911. The other chased the attacker.

Joseph A. Dixon was charged in the case. He was apprehended after he was arrested allegedly trying to rob the tip jar at a fast-food restaurant in Hyde Park.

But who killed 14-year-old Tashima Nero Smith?

Last week, the teen was found in an abandoned building at 829 N. Homan Ave. Tashima's guardian had reported her missing two days earlier.

Who beat 13-year-old Lazarus Jones to death with a baseball bat near his Albany Park home Feb. 19?

Who shot and killed Donta Martell Seals Banks near Karlov Avenue and Division Street Oct. 26, 2002?

And there are plenty of other examples.

Last week, Blair Holt's short life was honored because he died a hero trying to protect someone else.

Helping to get a pair of armed carjackers off the street would be a similar act of heroism.
If you want to look at this as a phenomenon of black culture, this surely has to be a low point. It's been years since I've been in high school, but I've heard a lot about what youth had valued in my day. It's almost sad.

I remember in the 8th grade I heard about how you were white for doing well in school, making the grade. Almost like to be black you had to dumb yourself down. Not cool but that was a value probably instilled by someone who didn't care about school and didn't want everyone else to value an education.

Others might be taken in by the culture of the street. One thankfully I never got to know. It's where swagger and street cred rule more than anything else. I can imagine that in some neighborhood, young children are forced to grow up fast, they skip a step.

I think it can be agreed that a lot of people want safer neighborhood. I'm glad to watch Chicago Crime Watch to see that in many neighborhoods people are active in taking a stand against criminals. One thing that needs to be done is to encourage our young people to cooperate with police and drop this no snitching act.

1 comment:

Rob said...

It was Cam'Ron who told Anderson Cooper that he'd move rather than turn in a serial killer. Cam is a bit of a goof, but the point he made was that as a rapper, having the reputation of being a snitch would kill his ability to be in the business. Maybe we wish this weren't the case but it is hard to argue with the facts as Cam presents them.

Clearly "stop snitching" is an anti-social message, growing out of the distrust of law enforcement that many rappers see around them. But isn't the first and most fundamental way to address this problem to change the way drug policy is written and enforced in black neighborhoods? That's the way I tend to see it, anyway; I think it's the result almost entirely of a misguided, mismanaged drug war.

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