Kerman Maddox's "Blood and Silence" (Opinion, Oct. 26) was the best article I've ever read regarding the horrible acts I saw up close and personal while growing up in Compton, where the Bloods and Crips ran rampant. I've seen too many innocent lives taken for wearing a certain color, which doesn't make any sense at all. Whenever there are incidents between cops and young black males, either assaults or deaths (which doesn't happen that much), folks like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are out here with their supporters, but when young brothers kill each other (which happens all the time) the so-called "black leaders" are nowhere to be found.
Only we can stop these cowards -- which is what all gang members are -- and make our communities safer for all to walk in at any hour of the day or night. The problems that plague us are from within, not from President Bush, Gov. Gray Davis or Mayor James Hahn. The solutions: Parents taking responsibility for their children and not trying to blame the white man for the ills of the inner cities. The churches encouraging folks to love each other and not harm one another. Gang members being made more accountable for their acts, such as gang-banging, drug dealing, rapes and robberies. And the black communities not looking the other way when the police come around for information that can lead to convictions.
If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem -- nothing more and nothing less.
Donald Perkins Jr.
As an African American elected official involved in law enforcement, I was stunned by Maddox's simplistic analysis of the causes of crime among young males in the black community. To attack African Americans for having failed to address and find solutions to black-on-black crime is not just "air[ing] dirty laundry" but rather is an irresponsible accusation that demonstrates an appalling ignorance of the history of black leadership.
All over America the causes of crime, particularly spontaneous gun violence, have confounded law enforcement experts. Prominent African Americans, across professional lines, have pioneered in research on juvenile delinquency, gang violence, prison recidivism, spousal abuse, etc. For decades I have attended conferences of black attorneys, politicians, clergymen, educators, social scientists and others whose abiding passion was to purge violence from the African American community. Many of these leaders have become frustrated over their impotence in the face of overwhelming forces that promote or condone violence in this nation: e.g., gun lobbyists, toy manufacturers and movie moguls. Black leaders have observed firsthand that parents, teachers and ministers have little impact in a society saturated by violence.
For over a century, prominent African Americans have played a pivotal role in the fight against crime in the black community. We now hope that Maddox will move from the sidelines and join our ranks.
Legrand H. Clegg II
City Attorney, Compton
Maddox's commentary bespeaks the cry of many in the black community who do not have the platform or the collective voice to bring much-needed and deserved attention to black-on-black crime. I too am tired of the usual suspects who ride in like the cavalry on issues of lesser degree but are conspicuously absent and silent when it comes to the coldblooded murder of not only our black youth but youth in general.
The many apathetic churches (let's pray, but not get involved) are just as guilty for not challenging their members to take a collective stand against something so senseless and pervasive.