I was deeply heart broken when I heard the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial. So much so that I didn’t want talk about it, yet I could not get my mind off of the number of young black males that are shot, killed and buried every day in our communities. I could not get my mind off the number of gun violence massacres I hear about almost every day in my own backyard…in Miami Gardens, in Overtown, in Liberty City and so many other cities across the country.
It was on December 2012, that a 15 year old Miami High School student was riding his bike to his friend’s house when 5 shots were fired at him, one pierced his spinal cord, shattered two vertebrae, punctured his lung and lodged in his shoulder. That night would be the last night that Aaron Willis, a football player for Booker T. Washington High School would ever walk again. In a special Stop the Violence Town Hall Meeting hosted by the Miami-Dade National Action Network, Miami Dade County’s Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated that he had attended 50 funerals, viewings & burials for his students since he becoming Superintendent in 2008. Between 2009 – 2012, 81 children were victims of homicide, ALL shooting victims.
This gun violence epidemic amongst our youth, especially our black males is not an issue that can be attacked on one-front; like in war, it has to be attacked on multiple fronts. This should be a priority on the national agenda as we cannot afford to continue to bury our future. While I agree that part of the focus should be on removing guns from our streets, I also believe a major component of attacking gun violence is keeping our children occupied and off the streets.
Statistics show a strong correlation between poverty, low education standards and high rate crimes. According to research by the The Schott Foundation for Public Education, the graduation rate of black males in Miami Dade County, one of the largest school districts in the nation, was less than 49 percent.
Education is the pathway out of poverty and the currency of the 21st Century. You can’t talk about fighting poverty and economic empowerment, without talking about education. With that in mind, the two major fronts that I would focus on when it comes to attacking the issue of gun violence among young black males are education and jobs programs targeted to African-American males. I would focus on a high school retention program, which would include a black male mentors program. I would invest in job training and placement and after school programs to get the young males off the streets. After all, its harder to get caught up in mess when you are engaging in something constructive. I dare not say that these high level proposals alone will eliminate the gun violence among our young black males, however I strongly believe they are two critical pieces to a healthy start in breaking the cycle.
I am ticked off about the George Zimmerman trial, but I am also ticked off about the Trayvon Martins who are victims everyday of gun violence in our communities. Let’s make this a national agenda and save our sons. I am willing to be apart of the task force that fights this battle. My name is Kerline Jules, and I’m just trying to be the change that I want to see in this world.