Recently, 4 young Black men robbed a Wells Fargo Bank here in Houston. They ended up involved in shootout with law enforcement officers. One of them was shot to death. His ambition was to rob that bank, but in the end who did he really rob? He robbed no one but himself; of his most precious possession, his life. He robbed his mother of a son and his child of a father. It hurts my heart to see young Black men making such self-destructive decisions.
It’s not like this desperation is being pulled out of thin air. Statistics reflect that Black males suffer disproportionately in every category of socio-economic life. We are still considered an endangered species. At every level, we are in the fight for our lives. But just like the poor brother who tried to rob the bank and ended up robbing himself, the masses of Black men in the city of Houston rob themselves every day through our failure to unite to advance our community.
For this reason and others, myself and others are organizing “PROJECT FORWARD”, a citywide initiative aggressively seeking to unite Black males behind three agenda items; 1. Stopping the Violence 2. Creating Economic Development and 3). the fighting for justice. There are many Black men and community organizations doing great work, but unfortunately we are all spread out like “dry bones in the valley.” It is time for those bones to unite across religious, political, and philosophical lines of division and build a “brotherhood for good.”
The first order of business is to Stop the Violence in our community. The “spirit of Cain” has taken over the minds of our young people. The other day a young man in Independence Heights was shot to death after an argument over a basketball game. I don’t know about you, but I will NEVER get used to this kind of madness. Just as we organized and mobilized our voices against the Zimmerman verdict, we must organize and mobilize EVEN STRONGER to speak out against Black on Black violence. I heard local activist Reginald Gordon once say, “the world will not be destroyed by evil; it will be destroyed by those who sit around and do nothing about it.” Likewise, our community will not be destroyed by Black on Black violence; it will be destroyed by those of us to sit around and do nothing about it. Black men must call the community to order. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
What do we do? We must reestablish the concept of “Each One Teach One.” We must set mentorship goals and connect young wayward boys to progressive Black men. We must teach self-knowledge, entrepreneurship and industrious thinking. We need thousands throughout this city to mentor, train and inspire Black males one at a time. We must unite and show them an example of the power of Black brotherhood. Stop complaining about their “sagging pants.” If we pull up their minds…their pants will follow.
We must recognize the connection between Black on Black violence and economic development. We must bring the best and brightest economic minds together to develop a plan for our people. We must embark on a campaign to reteach the basic values of money management, the circulation of the Black dollar and supporting Black businesses. We must unite and make examples out of corporations like Kroger, who reportedly took one billion dollars out of Houston’s Black community last year and is reportedly giving nothing back. Where are the men who will protect the interests of our community? I believe they are all over the city of Houston. And with God’s help we will bring them together.
Meet us at the SHAPE Community Center on Saturday, September 21st at 4:00pm for a Citywide Mens Only Meeting. We want to make a case for unity and brotherhood that transcends our individual issues and organizational differences. We want to develop a 2 year plan and use social media as a platform to get together and stay together. Last week 17 year old Joshua Broussard was stabbed to death in a fight at Spring High School. Are our personal differences as Black men more important than saving the lives of our children?
Either we go through the hard work of unifying Black men in the city Houston, or we go through the hard times that lay ahead for our people if we fail to do so. We have a choice.
Your Brother and Servant,
-Deric Muhammad Activist/Organizer