Young Black Men in Oakland Are Killing and Dying for ‘Respect’

A sad article from the SF Chronicle. The situation in the black community is sad and getting worse


The body count is woven into the civic consciousness here—a number chased by homicide inspectors, studied by criminologists, lamented in churches, reported by journalists. Every mayor leaves City Hall on broken promises to quell the violence, and the killings continue. An additional 115 have been killed this year, putting Oakland on pace for another gruesome record.

In the last five years, 557 people were slain on the city’s streets, making Oakland the state’s second-most murderous city, behind Compton.

Most victims are young, black men who are dying in forgotten neighborhoods of East and West Oakland.


Experts fear that the neighborhoods are only getting more violent. There are entire blocks without a single two-parent family, where drug dealers have become the predominant male role models, and children fend for themselves in crowded, chaotic homes where they are routinely exposed to drugs, sex and guns.

Criminal families are on their third and fourth generations. Grandparents—the ones who have historically stepped in to help raise fatherless boys and instill a sense of right and wrong—are dying off.

Back in the 1980s, drug dealers who first brought crack cocaine to Oakland used to hide their activities from their parents because it was shameful, but now it’s a full-blown family business, said Michelle Gandy, a private investigator who interviews murder defendants for Alameda County court-appointed criminal defense attorneys.


Increasingly, the young murder suspects coming to the station for questioning seem to lack basic morality, said Sgt. Tim Nolan, who has been investigating Oakland homicides for 17 years.

There are more and more families where there’s less and less structure,” he said. “Talking to these suspects day in and out, there’s a higher percentage today with no sense of right and wrong. It’s frightening, but we are creating super-criminals.”

All it takes is a look, a put-down or a lost fight, and bullets fly. Disrespect has become the No. 1 reason to kill.

Killings have been concentrated in these neighborhoods for so long that revenge killings continue for decades. There’s a six-degrees-of-separation phenomenon that happens after each death: The killers and their victims can typically trace a relationship through family, friends, schools or prison stints.


They are young. Most killed before their 25th birthday.

A majority grew up without a father—he was either murdered, incarcerated or abandoned his children.

Mom is typically absent, too, either because she’s working several jobs for minimum wage or because she’s also lost to the streets through drugs, prostitution or prison.

[…]Inside the home is pure chaos. Typically, they live with a third-generation relative, an elderly grandmother or aunt, who also opens her home to several other wayward relatives. They all pile into one home, bringing their boyfriends and girlfriends and their children. There’s no particular person in charge, no house rules, and people come and go.

Please read the entire article. Additionally, I have been got a chance to look over the birth statistics and the situation in the black community is getting worse where children born to unwed mothers is concerned.

As of 2006, 70.7% of Blackamerican children are now born out of wed-lock.

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