UNITED STATES—We have heard the conversation for the past few years about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in response to the countless lives of African-Americans that have been lost to police shootings. However, I want to have a conversation about the importance of ‘Saving Black Lives’ in the African-American community.

This conversation is not for everyone, but for those who continue reading please note if you have a NEGATIVE OPINION keep it to yourself, this is a constructive critique aimed to address issues plaguing the African-American community and ways to combat the problem. So if you don’t plan to add insight to solving the problem, keep your commentary to yourself.

First, we have to have a discussion about the importance of bringing jobs to the urban environment, to urban neighborhoods that have become desolate, left clinging to the hope that the economy will bounce back and bring opportunities. Is that happening in most regions?

Not really, jobs are coming to America, but it’s not happening soon enough. This is a reason crime is on the rise in many African-American communities. People are desperate and when desperation seeks in, nothing else matters for some people. This is NOT delivering an excuse for one’s violent actions towards burglary, armed robbery or homicide, but it’s a perspective that needs to be put onto the spotlight.

I’m highlighting this issue because it comes from the perspective of someone who has lived in the urban community and witnessed a city that I grew up in literally dissipate and disappear over the years. I mean streets that used to be lined up with houses, now sit with 2-3 houses tops on the block. Big time auto makers and corporations that used to be tax revenue for the city have moved to other locations. When jobs disappear, tax revenue goes as well; it makes it difficult to sustain people.

I mean I can count about 10-15 liquor stores in the city that I grew up in, and even though things are quite desolate now, guess what, those liquor stores are still there. They offer nothing of nutritional value. Alcohol, cigarettes, the lottery and unhealthy foods, are the only items offered at these establishments. This is no aim to close these stores, but to open the eyes to African-Americans to see the bigger picture, to want more, to see that alcohol, cigarettes, the lottery and fatty, sugary foods are not good for our health or mentality.

This is a declaration asking more corporate chains to bring supermarkets to the inner cities: all people need to eat, regardless of race. Food is something that is universal; we all need it to survive. Money will be made, and that entire issue of theft being so high, stop it! I worked at a supermarket as a teen in suburbia and theft happened ALL THE TIME!

The big issue I really want to discuss is with African-American males. Stop the black-on-black crime people. It’s senseless and you’re killing your own race. You’re taking the lives of people for NO REASON. Last week alone I witnessed on television about 20 plus stories referring to people killed after being robbed or after getting into a verbal dispute.

Like why the hell is it vital to fatally shot someone after you’ve robbed them? I’m trying my best to wrap my head around that reasoning. I’m guessing you think if you kill the person they can’t blab about it. If you commit a crime you are GOING TO GET CAUGHT. You can’t escape justice, it may not happen overnight, but you will be caught. For those desperate for money, focus on getting a job! Clean up your image. I DO NOT want to hear excuses pertaining to be locked up in prison.

My brother was convicted and spent 3 years in prison on drug charges that weren’t connected to him. He was guilty by association, but after getting out he reclaimed his life by busting his a** to find a job, and he found two, and then parlayed that into an even better job, where he’s saved up enough money to buy his own house.

Does prejudice, discrimination and racism all still exist in America? Without a doubt, but you have to fight for what it is you want. I’m hoping we get to a day where race is no longer an issue of importance, but the level of black-on-black crime is just outrageous in our urban environments. We’re killing our own people, we’re killing our own race, we are limiting our opportunities, we’re sending bad messages to the young, we are limiting ourselves. We can change how the public perceives us to some degree, but it all depends on how we react and carry ourselves. The media isn’t helping the spotlight, so let’s change things people. Let’s aim for more, let’s aim for better.