Helen Brown expresses how she feels about the Philadelphia flash mobs and the mayor’s reaction.
With the onslaught of recent flash mobs taking place in Center City, many are asking, “Why?”
Are the youth of this city so bored with themselves, and so angry, that they find entertainment in hurting innocent bystanders for no reason at all? And are the adults of this city doing enough to engage them in positive activities?
While giving a speech on Aug. 7 from the pulpit of his West Philadelphia church, Mayor Michael Nutter said to Philadelphia’s black youth, “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied and your pants half-down, tattoos up and down your arms, on face, on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you cause you look like you’re crazy.”
Helen Brown, 70-year-old community organizer of the 2300 block of Berks Street, doesn’t completely agree with Nutter’s statement.
“Well, just because you [have] tattoos and such does not make you a bad person,” Brown said. “The mayor was harsh, but as far as going out to interviews, you have to know how to present yourself.”
Brown is concerned that because of the mobs, some young African-American teens will be categorized as troublemakers, which is something she said is “just not true.”
Some of the youth within her community are drummers in The North Philly Footstompers, a popular drill team sponsored by Project H.O.M.E.
“We have about 13 drummers,” Brown said. “And I’m sure if they were to go out in a large group together, people would be scared, [but] they shouldn’t be.”
The extension of hours at local recreational centers by Nutter won’t make an impact if some teens can’t find an activity that interests them there.
“I think it’s great,” Brown said. “It’s a bad thing that it has to happen, but if the parents can’t monitor them, then the city has to.”
Brown reflected on how her children were raised and remembered one Friday night tradition where her kids and herself would have “MJ” night–a night designated to listening to Michael Jackson songs, having a talent show for themselves and ordering take out.
“There’s a lot for the youth to do, if they do it. The recreational centers are opened late now, and if there’s still nothing to do, [they should] try spending more time with [their] family.”
Dominique Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.