In less than a week, several young black men have been arrested for major crimes and/or slain on the streets of Berkeley. While this is a regular occurrence in nearby Oakland and Richmond, Berkeley has apparently caught the virus of a rapidly deteriorating socio-economic order. Last week four young men we are familiar with were arrested for armed robbery. Since they had the bright idea to rob white people, their crimes will probably be enhanced, maybe even considered a hate crime. They were students of teachers at Berkeley Continuation High School or B-Tech and known by their teachers as very nice young men. The teachers even wrote positive comments about them in the San Francisco Chronicle after reading comments from whites describing them as black beasts who should be put under the jail.
For sure, the young men were desperate and committed acts of desperation in Berkeley, a town touted for the University of California, yet these days very few blacks are enrolled there, and other than athletes, most of the black students are females. We know the drill, the brothers go to jail, the sisters go to college, but Dr. Wade Nobles says college is prison for the sisters as well. Most of them will come out suffering the trauma of a white supremacy education or mis-education. They will be fortunate to find a mate from their ethnic group.
Berkeley is segregated with whites living in the hills and North American Africans in the flatland of South Berkeley, although gentrification is in motion to remove them entirely from the area--of course this is a nationwide trend. Socio-economics is wreaking havoc in the hood. On the news last night, we learned Gary Ferguson, Jr., a young man with a troubled life, was gunned down in broad daylight at Sacramento and Russel streets. Another brother was wounded but died later. Two suspects in hoodies fled on foot. Yes, we are the KKK these days, we wear the hoods.
We know the family of Gary Ferguson, Jr. His father, Gary Ferguson, Sr., was a drug addict who recovered to establish a center until recently when he relapsed and lost the multiple story house for recovery. We are also aware of the grandmother of the slain man. She was grieving over the criminal activities of her grandson. Now she must grieve at his transition.
At one point a nephew of mine was in a dispute with young Gary and I was approached to take him on a national book tour with me because his life was in danger. After some convincing, my nephew agreed to leave Berkeley for the first time in his 25 years; the first time he would fly on a plane. On tour, he accompanied me to Philly, Newark, Brooklyn, Harlem and Boston before he returned. He had the time of his life and has enrolled at Contra Costa College in Richmond.
We are happy to help my nephew but it is no joy to see the destruction of Ferguson, his friend, and so many other young men who cannot figure a way out of this nothingness and dread.