The Concrete Jungle came about after two weeks of interviews and discussions with the leaders of two rival street gangs (The Crips and The Bloods) in South Central Los Angeles, in the summer of 1997. After the meetings were over, Daryl Lewis, a reporter for the Bakersfield News Observer, queried Israel on the issue of “what can be done to discourage urban youths from joining gangs?” Israel responded by writing: “In truth, it is quite natural for young African American males to formulate associations among their peers within their social environment.
Therefore, we can never expect to see young men deviating from that which is natural. What we, as a collective group of contemporary people, must do is to change the nature of the variable(s) that motivate our children to form negative associations and common bonds in the first place. Where the problem lies is that young African American males, more than anything else, appear to need mentors—especially during their formative years: mentors whom understand the Covenant rights and privileges that all God’s children are inalienably endowed with. These mentors must stand as true father figures—extensions of righteousness: strong, sturdy men who serve to help make a youngster’s Rights into Passage a smooth transition into maturity. Ideally, the father provides such a mentor’s spirit.
However, in urban America today, where we find many fathers absent from the lives of their children, and countless others who suffer from apathy, it usually takes a whole village to raise a child—a thing that is nearly impossible to do when the whole village is wrought with fear. If we earnestly desire that our children grow up in life to form healthy, lasting relationships in the world, relationships that are well pleasing to God, then real fathers must lead the way. For when the mentor’s spirit is absent, the child will cultivate associations with peers in the same general spiritual predicament.”
2. See I John 3:1-24.
3. See Psalm 91:1-16.
4. See Psalm 92:1-15.
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