*This week, a rapper in Chicago by the name of Jojo made a “diss record” about the rapper Chief Keef.

A few days later, the 16-year old rapper was dead.  Some think that Jojo’s death certificate was signed when he spoke negatively against Keef, and some of his friends were even dumb enough to brag about it on Twitter.  Words like “Rest in piss” came from kids who seemed happy that Jojo was shot in the face so that his mother could not have an open casket in his funeral.

This crime was heavy on my heart as I did an interview in Chicago on my favorite station, WVON.   I was there to promote the Janks Morton film, “Hoodwinked,” but I found myself reflecting on how we’ve failed our young people.  Most of us who celebrate our nation’s first black president have nothing to say when politicians are asked to respond to growing violence in cities like Chicago, where kids can’t walk to school because of the risk of gunfire.

My people, we have let down an entire generation, and it’s coming back to bite us.  Every time we overlook our own inaction and simply blame the parents, we are excusing ourselves for not working as mentors for kids who have no parents.  Whenever we act as though politicians have no obligation to speak on the violence in Chicago, we are allowing another child to die because of our silence.  Every time we excuse companies like Interscope  Records for producing weaponized psychological genocide in the form of entertainment, we are adding a bit more acid to the poison (please scroll down to listen to the Chief Keef song to know what I’m talking about).

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The fact is that these kids belong to all of us and now all of our kids are in danger because we’ve done almost nothing for those kids who have been abandoned by their parents.

Now, it’s time to pay the piper.

The prison industrial complex, urban violence, inadequate educational systems and massive unemployment now serve as four of the dominant threats to the black family in America.  As black women lead the nation in STD infections, many of these infections can be linked back to women being forced to date men who have very little to live for and don’t protect their health.  The same can be said about the declines in black family wealth, and many other problems that impact our community. We must realize that these issues affect all of us and not just “those people.”

The bottom line?  We can all make a difference.  We must pick up those kids who need a parent and give them some kind of encouragement.  We must form viable political coalitions that command respect from the White House, Congress and any other politician who dares to ignore us.  We must teach and educate one another on our personal power and mandate that we all play a role in improving the conditions of our youth.  Millions of our lost children are nothing more than corporate commodities produced by gun manufacturers, hip hop music labels, and liquor distributors.  They are influenced by what exists in their “hoods,” and we must destroy these influences where they exist.

boyce watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins

Jojo is not the only 16-year old to die in Chicago this week.  His twin brother is also being threatened with death, and there are thousands of other 16-year olds who will never grow up to become anyone’s mother, wife, husband or father.

This is what our community is faced with if we do not act.  It has literally become a life or death situation.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

To check out Dr. Watkins in the Janks Morton Film, Hoodwinked, please visit this link.