Cornelius Ricks, community advocate and founder of Stop the Urban Youth Violence, recently hosted a Black History Month event at the Harlem Branch Library, 9 W. 124th St. The evening’s topic was “Why are Black youth at the age of 12 being charged as adults in America?”
The event’s master of ceremonies was Muhammad Ibn Bashir, author of “Raw Law,” and guests included John White, Dr. Glenn Vickers, Asher Muhammad, Lorenzo Steele Jr., Ted Porteine and an audience looking for answers to this complex problem plaguing our community.
With all of our unimaginable opportunities, why is our community full of youth violence? Twentieth-century adults had always thought that 21st-century technology would level the playing field, produce minority entrepreneurs and raise the low-income class to become financially healthy citizens. We had no idea that gun violence would spread into our community and our school. We now produce criminals instead of leaders, homeless people instead of homeowners and violence instead of education.
White, nationally known due to his self-defense of home and family case in Suffolk County, Long Island, said, “There is a need for after-school mentoring programs for our youth that uplift their self-esteem. They’re not focusing on college or family life … Hip-hop is their culture, and they are being targeted by the law officials to increase the prison populations. One felony and they’re not eligible to apply for municipals jobs, college and city housing … This is the hip-hop generation, and we adults must work together to solve these issues.”
“Our youth know they’re being discriminated against by the police and the courts, which is supported by former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s 1991 Minority Report that concluded New York state is running an apartheid system of justice. His son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Attorney General [Eric] Schneiderman must address this national issue so beautifully outlined by Dr. [Michelle] Alexander in her book, ‘The New Jim Crow,’ as minority mass arrests, police shootings, adult charges for minors and ‘stand your ground’ laws demand a national political leader in the protection of minority rights, ” said Vickers.
Conflict resolution specialist Jonathan Ager said, “My goal is to decrease conflict and increase economical awareness in our community by going to the source and dealing directly with children in our schools and solving the problems there.”
Stop the Urban Youth Violence addresses these issues plaguing our community and looks for answers so that our youth become the leadership of tomorrow and not