A Wish For the New Year

As we get ready to jump into a New Year, we often wipe the slate clean:. We forget about the past and look forward to a brighter and better future.

Sometimes it’s not as easy as taking an eraser and wiping away what has been. I was reminded of that while reading today’s Wall Street Journal.

The paper published a recent study of crime statistics indicating that the number of murders among African-American teens has risen 39% over the course of this decade ( we’re talking about those under the age of 19 here ). If that wasn’t disturbing enough, consider the rise in overall homicides was 7.4%.

The study blames cut in law-enforcement programs and the reduction of activities geared towards African-American youths. They also say that young black men are more likely to come from homes with single parents and a lack of supervision.

It’s obvious why these numbers hit home with me, but it goes beyond the fact we are seeing African-American youth being killed at an alarming rate. Whether it’s due to so-called “black on black” crime or they are killed by someone of another race, seeing promising and talented young people die should scare us all. We lose a valuable resource and perhaps a productive member of our society for no reason at all.

When a young person dies of any race, we lose a future mother or father, a future doctor or lawyer … and maybe even a future President of the United States. Sure, money is tight and we cannot afford all the programs that are needed to give these children a chance, but that does not mean we cannot volunteer and try to make the world a better, safer place for our younger people.

Someone asked me once during a speaking engagement what was the single most important issue facing us and a nation and a region. Back then, I said it was the killing of our youngest people … and just days before the New Year, I feel exactly the same way. Be they black or white, they are our future. 

If  there is a resolution we should all have for the new year, it’s to make sure that we somehow stop our youngest people from dying.

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