Why do we call it that?
One might wonder what it is I mean when I call Harlem The Bermuda Triangle. This is what my Aunt and Sister always called the neighborhood we grew up in, Harlem. They called our neighborhood this, because it is a place where many with poor guidance often lose themselves in a repetitive and convenient cycle.
Throughout my short time living here and even as a part of the youth, I was able to witness so many instances where potential was wasted due to lack of guidance and environment. Many of the residents may live out their whole lives without any astounding financial success, but it’s not due to the reasons outsiders may think. It has nothing to do with ability but all to do with the unequal distribution of resources.
Lack of home guidance paired with poor schools
It is logical but not justifiable, unlike wealthier neighborhoods usually inhabited by caucasian people, Harlem lacks higher education programs.
Kids who may already face problems at home such as single parent households, parents with drug/alcohol addictions, domestic violence, or incarceration have no escape. Family issues may not be unique to Harlem, but what makes it significant is the fact that this paired with education that lacks, in comparison to those that can be paid for by higher income households. The result is kids who turn to selling drugs illegally to make a living because they must sustain themselves in an easy and quick way.
Since schools lack resources in neighborhoods in poverty, Young Women lack guidance and may end up giving birth to children at young ages. These Young Women usually end up sustaining these children single handedly because the majority of young Men simply aren’t ready to take on the responsibilities. In short what is not being taught at home due to impending issues end up falling on schools, which don’t make up for lack of guidance.
People in Harlem become accustomed to a way of life that robs them of the very fruit god has blessed every soul with. I am testament to all of these claims myself, my Aunts and my Mom and many other Women, had children at very young ages and dealt with Young Men who wanted no part of raising the child. This causes a never ending cycle of children with emotional trauma that may affect their success as adults.
Despite this there are children who rise to the occasion and still succeed in Harlem, but only those who were either extraordinarily driven, or those who had guidance at home.
Police target Youth in Harlem with no basis
On top of all of this the Youth is harassed by police, not only my brother but I’m sure many others have been frisked by the police with no basis except that they “fit the description.” My Brother a college student at the time with no affiliation with drugs, frisked because of not only the color of his skin but because of the neighborhood we live in. I know this because I asked the officer repeatedly why my brother was being frisked, he could not reply because he had no answer that was feasible under the law. My cousin was pursued by an asian officer on several occasions until my Aunt finally stood up for him, she told the police “I’m more scared of the police than the perps-why don’t you guys follow whats written on your doors? Have some courtesy and respect.” They never pursued my cousin again who also had no affiliation with anything illegal. The officer knew what he had been doing was wrong and was targeting my cousin solely based off his race and the neighborhood in which we live.
An Image seen but not understood
Many people see communities with large amounts of colored residents and assume that these neighborhoods are just ghetto’s, places where people aren’t civilized or appropriate or educated, that they are filled with criminals. But this isn’t the truth, these people are misguided, don’t have the adequate education. This lack of education leads to people having poor decision making, and being targeted by police doesn’t benefit the situation. Many factors contribute to this pre-conceived image that people have in their heads, that doesn’t scratch even the tip of the iceberg of what really is. Before stigmatizing a whole community, understand the real forces at hand. When you have a toddler that does something wrong for the first time, can you really blame them? They don’t know any better, there are parallels between that child and misguided youth in Harlem. An educated person who knowingly commits a crime should be charged to the full extent of the law, but should a person who per say isn’t educated be charged for possession of drugs? Before you say yes, consider the fact that these kids may have issues at home and no guidance in school which may have assisted them in taking that path. The connection between color and incarceration is unacceptable.
Harlem Youth faces crueler punishment despite education gap
Most of Harlem’s residents are incarcerated for drug related crimes and sentenced more harshly according to the NAACP: About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug. Five times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense. Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation. Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession“Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession. Despite the education gap the statistics above, demonstrate that there is a structural issue that discriminates towards the colored residents of Harlem, although their caucasian counterparts who are tried easier for the same crimes may have higher education. Education obviously influences decision making but law enforcers remain oblivious to the the link. Finally after they are tried they have a permanent stain on their records that prevent social mobility, these parents raise children and the cycle repeats.