“Going Against the Flo” was a very interesting story last week (June 14) in the New Pittsburgh Courier on the determination of a 65-year-old woman’s fight to save our youth.
“We (adults) are afraid to even say a word to the teenagers. I know people who are very afraid and they’re warning me about it,” said Flo Taylor in the article. “I just let them know what I see, and I’m very straightforward with them.”
She’s talking about the packs of youth, anywhere from 20 to 100 youths who gather Downtown Pittsburgh after school and sometimes during the weekends and just roam or fight, making it hard for businesses to function and creating fear in the people shopping Downtown or just enjoying some of the many food places or entertainment venues Downtown.
I talked to Flo a few months ago before I left the Courier and she was very adamant about stopping all the violence among youth Downtown. One of the things that motivated her was some of the articles with photos the Courier ran a few months about on the gangs of youth fighting Downtown on a regular basis. She said she would talk to me once she got some other things together at Shuman Center, where she volunteers to work with the youth there.
She is very sincere about helping young people and their struggles in the world around them today. She believes that sincerity can be passed on to the youth to help guide them in the right direction.
“It has been a very enlightening experience. I love working with teenagers,” she said in the Courier article. “Those kids educated me. Those kids told me the very first time I went out to Shuman that what has happened to our communities has crippled them. They told me, ‘Flo, y’all dropped the ball. For all the marching and all the singing and all the Kum Ba Yah, y’all dropped the ball. I live in a neighborhood where when I got out of here, I have to have a gun.’”
And they are right, this is the hard, cold fact in cities throughout the country for our Black youth, the higher the percentage of Blacks to higher the number of Black homicides.
Pittsburgh is not standing alone with Black-on-Black killings; Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, East St. Louis, Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Cleveland, New Orleans, and the beat goes on.
Lord knows we need more Flo Taylors in this world because I don’t know if I could do it. On the bus I witnessed a White man sit in a seat with something wet in it and the Black youths thought it was funny, but when he voiced it to them that it wasn’t funny, to my surprise one said sorry, while the other said it was funny to him. I thought there was going to be a fight but the youth were cool.
We need more women and men like Flo who are concerned about our youth and are willing to talk to them. She’s right to say many, if not most adults today are afraid of our youth, some their own children, because as the young man told Flo, many are packing guns and not afraid to use them.
“Hop” Kendrick talked about how his father was such a positive influence in his and his siblings’ lives in the June 14 Courier. But in today’s society, how many fathers are in the home to give any kind of guidance, and how many mothers would allow them to?
Even though my father and grandfathers have been dead for a number of years, they had a great deal to do with my development into the man that I am today. I give a belated thanks to them and all the fathers and grandfathers out there for their contributions to the upbringing and development of our youth. Happy belated Fathers Day.
(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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