The pol­i­tics of black­ness: Ur­ban beach week­end

South Florida Times - - OPINION -

For the past 17 years, each Me­mo­rial Day week­end on Miami Beach has been spoiled by the bad be­hav­ior of thugs. Most of the rev­el­ers who come from all over the coun­try are well-be­haved African Amer­i­cans who come to spend money and have a good time.

But there are sev­eral hun­dred who come and de­stroy. And each year all I hear is peo­ple, like the NAACP, com­plain­ing that all the com­mo­tion that oc­curs is be­cause white folk and white po­lice don’t want black folk on their is­land. And this will con­tinue until black folk, good cit­i­zens, stop pro­vid­ing com­mon thugs al­i­bis for their bad be­hav­ior.

I re­mem­ber the ge­n­e­sis of Ur­ban Beach week­end – Me­mo­rial Day week­end, 2001. I re­ceived sev­eral phone calls that pulled me into the fi­asco, pri­mar­ily af­ter some of the black ra­dio sta­tions called for a march on Man­gos and a boy­cott of Miami Beach.

One call came from some­one alert­ing me of the proposed march and boy­cott. An­other came from a Miami Beach Com­mis­sioner ask­ing for help. And yet an­other came from the owner of Man­gos Café, one of the hottest spots on Ocean Drive.

I met with the city man­ager and mayor and had the mayor call a press con­fer­ence. I later ar­ranged a meet­ing with some of the ho­tel man­agers and mem­bers of the black com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the NAACP and a cou­ple of churches.

The black un­der­ground ra­dio sta­tions had pro­moted Miami Beach as the place to go af­ter the black lead­ers shut At­lanta down be­cause of so many in­ci­dents that re­quired a large po­lice pres­ence.

The hor­ror sto­ries were re­ally trou­ble­some. Sev­eral folk crashed not one but two wed­ding re­cep­tions at the Lowes Ho­tel, which had to reimburse the wed­ding par­ties to the tune of $150,000. Need­less to say, the brides were trau­ma­tized. What should have been the hap­pi­est day of their lives was ru­ined by thugs who just stormed into the ball­rooms and helped them­selves to food and drinks rel­e­gated for the brides’ guests.

Dozens of peo­ple smoked crack co­caine in ho­tel lob­bies. Women were as­saulted. There were sev­eral dozen peo­ple fight­ing in the street and the club next door to Man­gos, so much so that the black pro­fes­sion­als in­side Man­gos were afraid to go out­side for hours.

There were re­ports of peo­ple throw­ing TVs out of ho­tel win­dows into the swim­ming pool. Peo­ple uri­nated and defe­cated in the hall­ways. And that was at only one ho­tel. Other ho­tels had sim­i­lar hor­ror sto­ries. The po­lice had their hands full. Yet when these sto­ries were told to the NAACP and the black preach­ers, they brushed them off and still main­tained that the prob­lem was that “white folks didn’t want blacks on their beach.”

And that pos­ture re­mained over the next 17 years. Last year when a black man was ar­rested and it was on so­cial me­dia, all any­one could say was “White folks didn’t want blacks on the beach."

Black pro­fes­sion­als and mid­dle class blacks have com­plained about the thug­gish be­hav­ior, but only among them­selves. The pre­vail­ing pos­ture has re­mained that it is racism that pre­vents blacks from hav­ing a good time.

When are we, as a peo­ple, go­ing to rec­og­nize that we can­not con­tinue to ex­cuse bad, thug­gish and crim­i­nal be­hav­ior by young black men? We re­mem­ber the names of those who have been shot by cops and call it mur­der, but we ex­cuse the be­hav­ior that cre­ated po­lice in­volve­ment in the first place.

We tell our young black boys they have to be afraid of the po­lice; but we don’t teach them com­mon cour­tesy or how to be­have – how to have re­spect for their elders.

Some­times I won­der – WHERE MY CHRISTIANS AT?

Until the black com­mu­nity re­turns to the days where drugs and crim­i­nals did not con­trol our young black men or when women were treated with dig­nity and peo­ple in author­ity were treated with re­spect, then we will con­tinue to lose our boys and men to the pe­nal sys­tem or to their early graves.

My grand­kids are all adults now and they keep re­mind­ing me that we live in a dif­fer­ent time. I agree. But some­one has to stand up and say, “Enough is enough." We must re­turn to the time when we knew racism was ram­part, but that didn’t stop us from thriv­ing and build­ing up our great com­mu­nity.

Erica Camp­bell sings “I Need Just A Lit­tle More Je­sus." Maybe we all do. DO YOU TWEET? FOL­LOW US ON TWIT­TER @SFLATIMES

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