NAACP issues a call to action

Published 7:37 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010

By Charles S. Gates

In the 1976 movie “Network,” Howard Beale emphatically uttered the catchphrase, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

This should be the rallying call of all Suffolkians. In light of the recent murders of Tyquan Lewis, Alissa Johnson and Michael Lee, along with the recent arrest of a 15-year-old in connection with the assault of a runner in Suffolk Meadows, we should be fed up.

Email newsletter signup

If you speak to the young people in this town, they will tell you that they do what they do because of a lack of programs and activities; that they don’t have an outlet. While the city is doing its best, they can’t do it all. The cliché, “it takes a village to raise a child,” could not be more true today.

While our children are influenced by videos, (i.e. music and games) it is ultimately the responsibility of the parents, or parent, to mold the child. How can we expect the best of our youth if WE are not representing a positive image at all times?

If we are walking around, as adults or young adults, with doo-rags on our heads and our pants sagging, why would we expect our children to hold themselves to a higher standard? If we don’t care what we look like, how we present ourselves, or how we articulate, why would they care? They won’t.

Many will say that it doesn’t affect them. Well, if Walmart, McDonald’s and the movie theater are located in your backyard, then you don’t have anything to fear. But if by chance, you or your family dare to venture out of your neighborhood, then beware.

Beware of that “child” who may be bigger than you, who doesn’t care, because no one has ever taken the time to find out what’s really going on; never taken the time to listen to his/her concerns; never taken the time to explain that there are consequences for all of our actions, good or bad.

This is a call to action. It is time to stop all of the talking and talking and talking and talking. At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, at St Timothy Baptist Church. 1613 E. Washington St, downtown Suffolk, the adult and youth branches of the NAACP are calling all “leaders,” who dare to make a commitment, that night, to provide something for our youth to look forward to on a monthly basis. Not just the youngsters in your “circle,” but all young people.

All persons under the age of 25 will meet in the sanctuary and all those over the age of 26 will meet in the annex.

Talent competitions, dance offs, debate matches, etc., are all events that young people embrace. Come with your ideas and possible locations. Let’s change the dynamics of Suffolk now, before it is, indeed, too late.

Charles S. Gates is the president of the Nansemond Suffolk chapter of the NAACP.