It's become a regular occurrence as we watch the evening news or glance at the morning paper's local headline announcing the gun related death of another city of Syracuse resident. Most are African-American youth and calls from "community leaders" to stop the violence falls on deaf ears.
As adults we bleat like pleading sheep "baaaad" "baaad" as we wag an accusatory finger at our African-American youth.
Yet how soon we forget how easy it was 30 and 40 years ago to get your start as a young man or woman here in Syracuse, NY.
There were opportunities for young African-Americans to work in their neighborhoods, whether it was a private sector job or temporary employment sprouting from some federal program.
The corner store, the neighborhood dry cleaner or bakery, as a kid I had boundless opportunities that started with taking out a neighbors' trash, and then cutting the lawn and of course shoveling snow. I walked up to Marshall Street and took out trash and stocked books for Bandit Bob's Orange Student Bookstore.
My recreation was Salt City Playhouse and the late Father Charles' Pompeian Players. I learned how to write by writing little one-act plays. I imagined myself as part of a much larger world.
At that time during the 60s and 70s the city had a decent representation of a black business community, from record stores to corner stores. Before the "dollar and a dream" New York State Lottery, the "numbers man" quietly knocked on the back door to take your number picks for the day. Those payouts remained in the community as the numbers man and the "street numbers" winner shopped at the same Liberty Market.
Even P.E.A.C.E.,Inc's neighborhood-based Community Centers gave dozens of people the opportunity to work in a town that hasn't educated its citizenry well. Performing community-based tasks that no privately owned major company or not for profit would touch. Even if it was giving out free cheese, the funds from these jobs were recycled back into the black community where it served to sustain a small but vibrant business presence in this city.