Black Boys Are Choosing Prison Over School; Positive Role Models Can Help!

Recently, WSBTV news anchor, Tom Jones recently wrote a powerful message regarding an Atlanta young, Black male who was sentenced to prison. These stories are too frequent and familiar not only in Atlanta but across the Nation.

Below are Tom’s powerful words which coincide with our EdLanta message that we need more Black male educators in schools from Kindergarten to higher ed. We must support, educate and rear our Black boys differently in a society that always painted Black males to be predators.

Another day in court. Another case that had even other inmates rolling their eyes.

The defendant is 17 years old. About to be 18 in a week. At the ripe young age where he should be preparing for college. The military maybe. A technical school. Or even a job bagging groceries at the local grocery store. Instead the defendant is off on another less glamorous journey. He could be headed to prison for life. For murder. The murder of his girlfriend. After she had sex with another man. A sex act he helped set up, according to police.

He looks scholarly in court. His glasses make him look like the nerdy professor. 

He even appears respectful. It makes you wonder how in the world a nice looking, mannerable young man like him ends up accused of murder? How he ended up with the nickname “Trouble?”

The judge read the details of what police say happened. It wasn’t quite clear how it all unfolded. So I strolled down to the clerk’s office to pull the warrant. What I read left me stunned. Bewildered. Disillusioned. I remember thinking how did we get to this point where something like this happens.

Police say 17 year old Beldon Sparks and two other men attempted to rob a man in an apartment near Riverdale. The man, officers say, was in the bedroom involved in a sex act with a woman he met on social media. Officers say Sparks and two other men burst into the bedroom in an attempt to rob the man. The man was prepared. He was packing. He fired at the would be robbers. They fired, wounding him.

One thing I’ve learned covering news so long: Bullets don’t have a GPS. Once a decision is made to fire them, their route and destination might not align with the shooter’s intended target. 

In this case a bullet managed to find it’s way to the head of the 19 year old woman the victim was engaged in a sex act with. Caught in the crossfire, she died later.

Here’s where the story takes an ugly twist. Police say the woman who died was Sparks’ girlfriend. Officers say Sparks, his girlfriend and two other men set up the robbery that turned deadly.

Yes! Police say Sparks arranged for his girlfriend to meet a guy, invite him over and have sex with him to distract him, while they burst in and rob him. So much for an exclusive, monogamous relationship.

Now she is gone. He is locked up. Facing murder.

Whatever happened to a young man dating a young woman. Them planning their future together. Working hand in hand to build a better, law abiding life with an eye on building a family later. Instead, according to police, we have a teenager, whose nickname is “Trouble,” using his girlfriend–and her body- to rob someone. That relationship was doomed from the start. And so were their lives I guess.

Police say the attempted robbery victim was defending himself. So he’s free and clear. Maybe not mentally. He may have some reckoning to do. Meeting women on social media and going to their home for sex is a dangerous proposition. As his injuries will attest. He is lucky to be alive.

No one wins here. Except the prisons. The funeral home. And the gun industry.

We have so much work to do. We need our young men to respect our women. They are not toys. Pawns. Widgets. 

Our young men must! No. Make that MUST resist the urge to live a crime ridden, antisocial lifestyle!! You are filling the prisons. Scaring the public! Wasting your precious youth! Get off them streets!! Hit a job instead of hitting a lick!! Hustle your way to a career! Give a thumbs down to thug life!!

And women. If his nickname is Trouble, be prepared for a life of it. Which may include you losing your life. And if he wants you to have sex with someone to further his crime endeavors, something is terribly wrong. Wrong with him for suggesting it. And you for accepting.

That lifestyle doesn’t work. We need change. Do it now before you end up like the 19 year old victim. Or like 17 year old Beldon Sparks. It may be too late for him. But not for you.

In order to help more of our Black boys make better choices, we must have positive role models they see consistently in schools. We may not be able to change the dynamics within the home, but having more Black males as teachers and educators in schools gives Black boys more support and chances to make better decisions as adults.

Any Black males in the Metro Atlanta area seeking to support our work in schools or become a teacher can reach out to us at EdLanta.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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