Bermuda’s young, Black males need to be better provided with and incentivised toward positive activities and actions, as a key means of diminishing the prevalence of the destructive, growing culture of anti-social behaviour, that is, literally, killing its membership.
And the burden of encouraging and enabling boys and young men to act out in favour of more constructive pursuits that benefit, rather than detract from community well-being, does not simply fall on Government, but is the responsibility of parents and the community at large.
So intimated Tarcy Doeman also known as Tracy Augustus in an exclusive interview with TNN’s Trevor Lindsay, some seven months on from the occasion of the murder of her own son, Letrae Doeman AKA ‘BIGS’ of whom she did not shy from admitting to have been involved in local ‘gang culture’ and such destructive behaviour and the lifestyle associated activities attached to the popular culture having played a vital role in his demise.
Many of today’s men engaged in the gang culture have taken on as an accepted potential consequence of membership within the societal sub-group, the prospect of dying young and never experiencing full manhood.
Last year’s shooting death of 19-year-old Doeman, is believed gang-related and, according to reports, occurred during a drive-by shooting , involving several men travelling on motorcycles both victim and perceived perpetrators in the area of the Flats Inlet and North Shore Road, Smith’s, during the early morning hours of July 1.
Part of Ms Doeman’s plea was that all stakeholders in the local community take responsibility for the current situation, that involves many of its young male population being abandoned to a ruinous ‘dark society’ sub-culture.
She cited a need for improvements to be made to Bermuda’s social-economic fabric, shaping them in a manner that is inclusively attractive to young Black males that are being lured into gang activity by the lure of rumoured riches, excitement and, moreover, a sense of acceptance, belonging and worth promoted by organised crime syndicates and their factions.
She rebuffed, without abjectly discrediting, a causational theory proffered by some, of urban gangs being part of a conspiratorial plot, designed to produce dysfunction and so help facilitate the destruction of Black families and their communities.
“Letrae saw himself living as long he had to,” said Ms Doeman, who in the grieving process of her own son, had added to her burden, the recent shooting death of another of her Friswell’s Hill area youngsters, that of 19-year-old Kyari Flood, who’s mother she was friends with. “How do we get them out of this mindset?
“Some say that this is something that is by design. We all know that it’s a game.
“And I believe that if we all stop agreeing to this being by design and a game that must be played in doing the things that are causing all of this mess, then things can change.
“At the same time I know that, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but not make them drink’, but, at the same time, if you give them purpose and incentive to drink of a fresh outlook toward life and show them that you really care, and they are an important part of the picture, then it can change the young Black man’s mindset.
“It’s amazing how, as a people, we can’t remember what we did yesterday, but we can remember who we had beef with way back in school and bring it forward to today in our lifetime.
“I think these are all excuses. That our young Black men are left without purpose, drive and sense of worth to the community.
“I’m from Friswell’s Hill and have had this s my ‘hood for the past 50 years. This town and country tit-for-tat is nothing new, it’s just gotten worse, in that ‘gun’ has now been introduced into the hands of our young people, who are the younger generational offspring of friends from my generation.
“It sickens me, because this was my son and now it’s also enveloping those of my grandchildren’s generation.
“When does it stop? And when do we collectively combine to make it stop?
“Do we give up on our sons and expect change to come? What’s happening is coming to be so normal an occurrence that we just ask. ‘What next? Or Who’s next?’ and wait for more of the same killings to happen.
“Because if nothing changes, nothing changes it’s not going to stop and we must take action to change the negative mindset in order to stop what’s going on with too many of our young Black men.”
A factor in young Doeman’s lifestyle, and one significantly influencing and shaping the mindsets of many of today’s adolescents is music, with reggae’s often confrontational ‘dancehall’ lyrics and ‘drill music’, an off-shoot of urban based hip hop, with battles involving clear threats and disrespectful verbal bashing of rival artists and gang affiliates, heightening tensions and frequently having these spill outside of studios into real life and death drama.
Doeman was known to have featured in ‘drill music videos ’ distributed in social media circles, making light of the misfortune of rival gangs and their departed members, something his mother believed to have played a key factor in the way in which he was killed.
His own death went viral as a featured, voiced over video on the social media circuit, containing actual crime scene video.
“We all have to take responsibility, because this town and country beef is bound in hatred, from where, God only knows. But hatred is taught, just as racism is taught .
“If we were to stand up for our children when they’re dong good, justifiably, then our children will feel like someone cares”.
“We may talk to our children and think that they are not listening, but I’ve seen beforehand that they do get it, but apply it as and whenever they see fit. That or something drastic has to happen for them to change and pay attention.
“Children live what they learn and circumstances don’t have to make us what we are at the end of the day.
“I’ve seen children that have been dealt unfavourable hands and placed in bad situations and they have been able to thrive in spite of their circumstances, through desire to do better.
“And we all need to do better to change what’s happening to our young Black males.
“Many are in these groups, not because they’re bad, but because there’s nothing else to do.
“Everything is based around money, money, money . Meanwhile, the family unit is in pieces to the point where people come out saying f— my family.
“It’s a terrible state of dysfunction we are in.” Asked if there was anything she wished she would have done differently as a mother in raising her son, Ms Doeman said that she had performed the best she could within the context the means afforded.
“I did the best I could with the tools I had,” she explained. “I told my son that I knew the game the game he was running all too well and where it led.
“As I said, I’m from the ‘hood, lived in this ‘hood and been around the block 50 times in my 50 years and thigs have not changed.
“I let him know that his actions were normal for his teenage age group, but that it was the times in which he was living that I was afraid of, and the ;potential, serious consequences of the time.
“I believe, as parents, need to teach and demand more accountability .”
As for the current grouping of between the ages of 16 and 25, which she deemed as the most actively problemtic demographic, she noted a need to salvage, rather than discard or write off as a failed generation.
“We can’t throw them away and solely concentrate on the younger ones, we have to try to fix them too, because they are a valuable part of this community as well,” she said. “We have to find ways to make them understand that they can play positive roles in moving us all forward.”
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