Wolves in hero’s clothing

If they really meant it then they would quit.

This is how elected officials, community leaders and the general public should think when they hear about “gang summits.”

A five-day National Gang Peace Summit was held recently in Chicago with Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Benjamin Chavis in attendance. At this summit what was being celebrated was the push for unity and peace among different inner city gang members. Members were urged to make a pledge to end the violence in their community. For a simple pledge, which will probably not be kept anyway, these gang members who have probably sold drugs, robbed, and killed get a hand shake and a pat on the back from some of the most famous leaders of the African American community.

The irony here is that the violence they pledge to end is created and maintained through gangs’ very existence.

Someone who had a more appropriate angle on the summit was Rep. Mel Reynolds, who held one of his own—an “anti-gang” summit. Instead of celebrating untapped potential, Rep. Reynolds celebrated young men who chose not to succumb to inner city temptations. These men came out of the same poor neighborhoods as the gangbangers celebrated by the summit, except they made success stories out of their lives. They are models through their actions, not through their promises.

When the African American and Latino youth of the inner city look around them for role models they should be seeing that hard work and struggling to do the right thing is what is rewarded. By holding up gang members, who have chosen the wrong path, as pillars of their community these African American leaders are just putting wolves in hero’s clothing.