The Original Story is HERE
Amadou Cisse, a Senegalese Doctoral student at the University of Chicago, became yet another victim of the "American Gangster" mentality and the senseless violence that this mentality breeds.
Before I go further, let me state for the record that I do not blame the actors, producers, writers, etc. of the film "American Gangster" for this tragic story. True, in my observation, I find that the film "American Gangster" (and other forms of media of this ilk) and it's celebration by Black Media, hype up the gangster / pimp culture that breeds the type of violence that took the life of Amadou Cisse, and that will now put some young brothers away in jail for most if not all of their adult lives, however the film by itself doesn't cause crime, neither does gangsta / pimp hip hop or violent video games.
Let me further clarify to say that hundreds of thousands of people watched "American Gangster"; and dare I say MOST of them did not commit robbery / murders after wards. Most people who viewed the film live in a different world than the world that "American Gangster" portrays. I point this out because In the referenced Sun Times article, the writers are clear to note that the young men were watching a bootleg copy of "American Gangster", which to me is sort of like ringing the bell in a court room. While they were not expressing out right that this may have been an agitating factor influencing the young men into committing the crime, it is clearly inferred and implied.
Even though I surely have no love for "American Gangster" or the images it glorifies; I find it a bit of a cop out to ring the bell in such a way. Many people can be (and were) entertained by this sort of film and never are touched by the violence that the film portrays. However, for some kids, like the ones who took the life of Amadou Cisse; these films in fact do portray a world that they are familiar with and live in. But it would be intellectually fraudulent to posit that the film is the cause for such a crime, these young men were on their way to this crime long before "American Gangster" went into production. No, all the makers of films like "American Gangster" are guilty of is what any good capitalist do, making money off of a product in demand regardless of who it hurts; and the product is: "The contorted and warped version of Black masculinity, presented as the thug / gangsta / pimp / drug dealer or gang banger." This product is a money maker for Hollywood and the music industry. The film may not have been the cause, but I will say that it more than likely was an agitator.
Now to the real issue, the violent crime that took the life of a doctoral student at University of Chicago. Here’s how this tragic story began: "Authorities said Walker and other teens had spent part of the weekend before the attacks watching a bootleg DD of "American Gangster" and eating fast food at an apartment that had been recently raided by Chicago Police. Among the group was a teen whose mother rented the apartment and who was arrested in the raid. A source said, however, the kids should not have been in the house. At some point, Walker allegedly said he needed money and wanted to do a stank, or robbery, the source said." (from the referenced Sun Times Article)
These young men went on to a commit a crime spree in Hyde Park Chicago by the University of Chicago, robbing two women, a University of Chicago employee, all to culminate in the tragic killing of Amadou.
Like I said, it is to easy to blame the sociopathic behavior on the film alone, however; we should look at some of the primary factors that intersected to create the conditions for this crime.
1. Failure of educations systems both external and within the family structure:
1. Failure of educations systems both external and within the family structure:
In an article in the Nov 28, 2007 Sun Times, we find some information about the mentality that these young men come from. A friend of the suspects was interviewed by the Sun Times and stated that: "He knew a university student was killed and that the student had just finished his studies. Standing in front of the brick home, the teen couldn't quite grasp how significant a journey it had been for Amadou Cisse. He didn't know Cisse had come from Senegal to study. And when asked if he knew where Senegal was, the teen simply replied, "No."
Not that this should be a surprise, most American teenagers are inept when it comes to geography. However, I would believe most teenage Jewish kids know where Israel is, most teenage Mexican kids know where Mexico is, and so on.
So it is sad, when African American teenagers can't identify where West African countries like Senegal are. Maybe if these young men knew more about their people and where the came from, they might less willingly to end the life of any human, let alone one they share a heritage with.
Who is to blame for them not knowing this, the school system? Perhaps, after all, the 16 year old suspect Eric Walker did go to an alternative school for teens with behavioral disorders. Maybe if they taught him something to have pride in, an alternative to the street cred that media is pumping into Black males as the standard of "maleness", perhaps he would be equipped better to make better choices.
However, if the schools are to be implicated, then the parents are at least complicit in the failure. I would posit, that they are more than complicit but in fact PRIMARILY responsible for their children's lack of knowledge of self. We don't have to wait for a school to teach our children about their African ancestry. Rent "Roots" at the least, however; these teens were watching a story about Frank Lucas...I guess the educational value of his story being made a film for these young men was minimal at best.
I say that because you had folks talking about how important it was that the story of a man like Lucas should be told for "historical" / "educational" reason. A man who still brags about killing the "biggest baddest blackest" man he could find in order to secure his street creed...I guess its all in what you want to teach your children I guess. Should we teach them about our ancestors, their struggle, our ancestry in Africa? Or shall we allow the BET Thug - Gangster stories be the focus of our EDUtainment?
Fact is, if we want less of our children to choose crime, we have to educate them better both in school and most importantly OUTSIDE of school in the Home!
However, this leads us to the next problem...
2. Absentee Parenting:
The two suspect currently in custody are 16 and 17. Of course we hear about friends and family talking about "they are good boys" etc., but I'm tired of hearing that. They both have records, this wasn't one youthful mistake. But what else can we expect from parents like this? Those who deny reality and choose to see their children through rose colored glasses while they terrorize other peoples children. Here is what we get from this article: "They had gathered in the South Side apartment because it belonged to the mother of one of the teens. She had been arrested in the raid, but it was not her son's legal residence, the source said."
So one of these kids mothers was locked up, the house more than likely a "hang out" or "drug spot". We have parents acting more like children than their own kids. We have a generation that wants to be their child's friend as opposed to their child's parent or even worse, those who refuse to grow up and put their children first and strive to give them the foundation to have a better life than they have.
And lets not even talk about the lack of FATHERS around in this case.
3. So what's the conclusion, what do we do?
I hate people who point out problems and offer no solutions, so I'm going to suggest a few things. First off, we need to shame people who act like animals, simple as that. I am tired of every time when a Black person points out that we need to do better, value our children, value education or take advantage of what we have now, some idiotic buffoon comes out shouting about how "harsh" we are with "poor Blacks", and how much "the White man" is to blame. Damn all that!
This is not just about "poor" Blacks, that is a false dichotomy, mostly "poor" Blacks are victimized by people like the two suspects who killed Amadou. This is not about Rich, Middle Class or Poor, it is about positive values regardless of so-called social class.
Bottom line, we need to RAISE OUR STANDARDS in all things. Demand a better curriculum for the failing schools, demand that police do their jobs, and make a community standard where people will be ASHAMED to be proud of how "real" they keep it by slanging rocks, talking in ignorant dialects, striving against education, etc., etc.
Until then, we will have more tragic stories and I guess more material for future film makers to make films about sociopaths.
My condolences to the family of Amadou Cisse, though I never knew him, I know I have lost yet another good brother trying to do what was right to people who don't know what right is.