The story of Relisha Rudd reveals the unfathomable reality that the contours of our micro and macro systems are broken and requires major resuscitation. As a result of her disappearance we have experienced the song and dance that normally precedes such odious events.
The media has used the tale and search of the missing girl for their own benefit though turning a blind eye at the eye soar that is the DC General Hospital shelter. Relisha the poor victim was forced to reside in an environment where law enforcement and antisocial behavior coexist but the latter prevails.
Politicians and law enforcement officials have also stated their outrage while embarking on various quests to find her alive. Relisha's family remains dazed and the community depressed. But are we willing as a family, community, and society to go through the necessary evaluations while making the changes to break the cycle.
The acceptance of the sub-culture and culture that culminates in the disappearance of this little angel is mirrored into our so-called civilized society where we are content with family systems that are on life support. There are socio-economic policies and individual decisions that have hampered many black families in the United State. In the inner/urban city of Washington DC and other cities around the country these factors have now become like the proverbial egg and chicken fairytale- who came first.
Some African American families are still ailing from a legacy of second class citizenship that civil rights and voting rights have not restored over the years. Hence the perceived “freedom” that allows for free expressions, that some have interpreted as a means to make babies they are not prepared to take care off. In the Relisha Rudd case most inquires has focused on her mother but few have asked about the father of this child.
Why do black teens and young men who are mostly themselves not raised in two parent households dropping out of school, making babies that they are not primary caregivers of, and becoming entangled in anti-social behaviors? There is the need to go back to the notion of delayed gratification and practice of safe sex which might be the antithesis of American expectionalism and unabashed personal indulgency.
How did the African American communities evolve from a legacy of small substandard schools asking for equity in education to a contemporary situation where our boys are dropping out of school in alarming rates? This situation is occurring at ever younger ages and those that attend schools in places like Chicago and Detroit lack the safe streets and security to get there. When parents that are raising children at home and in shelters use four letter words and mf this and that in the present of their kids as terms of endearment we need to wonder what is really going on. Such situations are not just “own goal” activities that are self-inflicted to ruin these kids but connotes major structural deficiencies that we need to address instead of dwelling on singular factors that only serves to perpetuate the blame games.
In the nation's capital we have experienced a consecutive number of local black rulers and politicians but the aforementioned problems persist because there are limited holistic approaches in use. These misapplications of approaches might account for why the District of Columbia (DC) presented with the highest rates in the ACLU report that found overwhelming racial bias in marijuana arrests. How is that so-called African American rulers have engineered and supervised a draconian system that have ignored and upending the family and education systems. They have allowed their personal and corporate interests to determine policies which have turned a blind eye to best practices and evidenced based approaches. There are always more monies for developments and contracts to grease the hands of the elites but not enough to address the needs of the less fortunate in society. These issues and questions require honest and thoughtful answers.
Another angle that entails the revamping of progressive ideals is the educational sector. When are we going to get off the school bus ideologies that insist on integration that others have tirelessly fought against? Why is there the doggedness to co-sign the inherently unequal and unjust notion that one's tax bracket and zip code should determine the quality of their children's education? As the justice department moves to repair the damages done by years of racial disparities in the application of laws, there should be counter movements to agitate for funding parities within various school systems in states, cities, and local municipalities. There are glaring contradictions when the world's self-proclaimed sole super power is willing to fund Ukraine and Syria in warfare but US families are in crisis, the educational systems are in shambles, and cities in financial turmoil.
Similarly, all well-meaning progressives and conservatives should question why it is politically incorrect to disparage those of European ancestry, others with Jewish heritages, and LGBT people, but perfectly acceptable to spread racial discrimination against black people. The ghastly messages of self-hate within black people have been sanctioned in the media and entertainment forums. In Relisha Rudd's memory we should make a commitment to advancing a society where the majority of next generations are not inundated with negativity and mediocrity as the chic discourse. We cannot allow the soundtracks of their lives to be based on poverty, unabashed quest for materialism, self-hate, and violence.
Nnamdi F. Akwada MSW, BA,
is a Social Justice Activist
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