By Gaetane Borders
In recent months, many African American leaders and celebrities have urged the community to help make a positive impact in the lives of our youth…particularly our young Black men. I have listened intently to radio and tv shows in which experts discussed the presumed reasons for why so many of our young adults are ”out of control” and demonstrating such a “lack respect for authority.” Drugs, gangs, rap music, and negative media imagery have all had a finger pointed at them as a probable cause. Yet, there is also another poignant issue which has a profound affect on our youth that is not often discussed. That issue is domestic violence. Although alarmingly frequent…the topic is almost completely avoided in common conversations.
Several months ago, the world learned of a horrific crime in which 41-year-old Patrick Dell shot and murdered his estranged wife, Natasha Whyte-Dell, and four step-children. Another step-son was severely injured, but was expected to live. Reports indicated that on December 20, Whyte-Dell said her estranged husband came after her with a knife, slashed her tires and scratched an "X'' into the concrete driveway. He apparently also threatened her by saying "You will be going to the morgue," according to a police report. "Your family is going to cry today," he said in rage. Despite reportedly fearing for her life, Whyte-Dell repeatedly reconciled with her husband in hopes that he would change. Sadly….he never did.
Tragic as it is, Natasha’s story is not exceptional. Reports have shown that the number one killer of African American females, ages 15 to 34, is homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner. In fact, the African American community reportedly experiences domestic violence at greater levels than White Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos according to various research studies. In addition, an estimated 63% of all males between ages 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide in the U.S. are incarcerated because they killed their mothers’ abusers? Here’s yet another statistic… children are present 25% of the time when their mothers are murdered by their partners.
I urge everyone to promise not to turn a blind eye to this issue anymore…starting today. This includes community leaders as well as celebrities. If we begin to talk about it openly, we can build and support a community culture that stands against violence in our homes. This generation is watching us, and will suffer from both our actions and inactions. Therefore, if we really want to see our Black youth achieve academic, emotional, and economic success, we must not only be committed to addressing the violence in the streets…we also have to remedy the violence occurring in our homes.
Gaétane F. Borders, Ed.S.
Certified School Psychologist
President of Peas In Their Pods and author of www.theparentingpundit.com