The defendants who stand accused of the murder of Chicago schoolboy Derrion Albert will appear in court today. Many questions remain, but perhaps the most salient one is why so many young black males are, like the accused, choosing a life of violence and self-destruction.
Everywhere we look, we see young people striving to maintain what is known as “street cred.” Unfortunately, their mentors have ingrained this term and its associated way of life into their psyches effectively blocking alternative options when conflict arises.
We know that these young men need something else. They need leaders and mentors who will give them new options for gaining respect and creating new futures. Those leaders will need positive “capital cohesion”, a term describing notions that create bonding within diverse groups. Capital cohesion unifies people and moves them toward goals but the emphasis must be on fruitful, constructive and positive capital cohesion and goals that will replace the existing, destructive ones.
Street cred is a unifying concept among black people. It has positive connotations when defined from the perspective of being from the streets, caring about the urban poor and attempting to bring about positive change. However, there are malignant forms of street cred that need to be revisited.