Many of the elders who spoke at Tuesday's march for justice regarding the unsolved murders in the city spanning as far back as 1995 put the onus on themselves more so than the police department.
It was mostly the mothers and grandmothers who did the speaking, although some fathers, sisters, cousins and other relations to victims did speak.
But much of what was discussed had to do with taking ownership of the lack of love being shared in the black community. Anyone not part of that community can only guess what that must feel like to have to admit.
All we can say is that the women who spoke did so with the obvious intent to inspire change from within, to push for an end to the ongoing violence as much as if not more than they were emphasizing the need for law enforcement to step up its game.
Poverty, lack of opportunity, broken homes, a lack of morals ---- these are the clichés uttered in the mainstream media where hardly a black voice can be found as the reasons black on black violence is so prevalent.
Some of that was mentioned Tuesday, especially the latter with more than one speaker calling for a return to the church and to find Jesus.
But most compelling was that more than one person and none less fervently than the other suggested that our youth today -- they might have meant their own but we will widen that lens to all -- seem to lack the ability to love one another and even their family members openly the way most of us did coming up.
We won't speculate as to why. We will simply say that whether through the church, the restoration of the family or the simple understanding -- although maybe it isn't as simple for some as it is for others -- that we all matter to someone, ought to be enough to give a young person pause before deciding to hang out on the corner, to set up a supposed friend to be robbed or to join and hang around with gangs and drug dealers.
The cycle of violence is most perpetuated by the fear instilled in the people who live in the communities where most of these crimes take place. And until the people, especially the kids, can learn that it is their communities, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and real friends who truly care about their well-being and futures and not the shot callers on the corner, the shootings, the stabbings, the robberies and the double crosses won't cease.
So it falls on us, black or white, as adults, to stop the kids in our own neighborhoods regardless of whether or not they look like us and ask what they are up to, who they are hanging with and if they need something. If we can show our kids the path to a successful future is found in caring for themselves, caring for their community and allowing themselves to be cared for by their communities, then just maybe they won't seek comfort in the exaggerated handshakes and false embraces of the thugs who only "love" them for what they can get from them or can convince them to do.
If we can learn to trust each other, black or white, young or old, police or private citizen, then we can cut back on the violence and begin rebuilding our -- entire -- community that has for too long and for too many ridiculous reasons been, admittedly or not, fractured and divided.