Eugene Kane, a columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote a story titled “Black Youths are City’s 2011 Boogeyman” to recognize, what he calls, the city’s “Out-Of-Control Black Youth.”
Kane, who’s black himself and has been honored with awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, says he wanted to highlight Milwaukee’s black youth as the 2011 black boogeyman in the same way Time Magazine identifies a person of the year.
The most-read story was the disturbance by a group of unruly black youths at Mayfair mall last January. According to reports, it was a hectic scene with scores of black teenagers running through the mall, knocking down a clothing display and prompting mall security to close the shopping center early.
Frankly, I didn’t think the story deserved to be ranked that high. As news about out-of-control black youths in Milwaukee goes, I think the Mayfair mall incident wasn’t as newsworthy as other events that happened later in the year.
Some readers may remember much scarier incidents that involved more actual physical harm and damage to property. That would include the melee in the Riverwest neighborhood after the July 3 fireworks at the lakefront. A group of young black people looted a gas station convenience store, an incident followed by a string of strong-arm robberies of innocent residents out to celebrate the holiday.
But instead of offering some meaningful context to the so-called ‘most-read story,’ Kane goes on to cite more stories about black youth getting in trouble and even goes on to say it’s “valid to point the finger at a lack of parental responsibility and family values being taught in some segments of the African-American community.”
“What gets lots in Kane’s problematic look at this so-called ‘stubborn demographic’ is that folks don’t ‘act out’ for no reason,” says Colorlines.com’s Jamilah King.
“They’re responding out of frustration.”
And there’s other context Kane failed to mention, like, two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently or positive stories like the city’s young people walking out of school in support of their teacher’s right to unionize or how young black organizers in Milwaukee’s North Side are out getting people registered to vote.
“And the vast majority of those reactions come in the form of political organizing. But those stories rarely make headlines,” King continued.