There was a time when the black community in Milwaukee was a much safer, family friendly place. I grew up just south of Capitol Drive, a few blocks from Rufus King High. I remember when we could leave our front door open at night; we weren't concerned with burglars.
I remember sitting in my friend's backyard listening to her uncle share stories about "how good we had it" compared to his life in Mississippi. Even though his generation saw deep oppression, he always had a smile on his face.
I also remember when your friend's mom could "yell at you" because the neighborhood moms had an unwritten pact: "If you ever see mine doing something he's not supposed to be, take care of him and then send him home to me."
Discipline wasn't considered a blow to self esteem; it was simply preparation for life. There was definitely a greater sense of "village" and "we're all in this together." Bad behavior wasn't tolerated, accountability was the norm, and most of us were taught that education and following the rules was the key to success.
Yes indeed, those were the days.
From time to time, I take a trip down memory lane and drive past the house I grew up in. It's fared pretty well, and for the most part, the neighborhood looks about the same. But I've talked to some of the old neighbors and they say gone are the days when you could tell someone else's child to straighten up and fly right. Most of the corner stores are closed because of robberies.
Children still play tag, jump rope and hide and seek but you hear a lot more swear words and the music is well, what it is. The sense of village is gone because the mentality has changed from "each one, teach one" to every man for himself.
What prompted me to write about "the village" is a commentary I read about the important role the extended family used to play in the black community. Specifically, if having positive familial input would have made a difference for the black athletes who, in many cas…Read more...