It was very painful for me to watch the reaction of the Ma’Lik Richmond one of the two youth sentenced for rape in the Steubenville rape trial.

It was wrenching because he seemed very remorseful and repented.

Don’t get me wrong, I abhor what he and his teammate did. As a nation we should have an absolutely zero tolerance for this act. I could pontificate until the end of time about rape and its impact but that is not the reason for this post. Trust name there are plenty of feminist diatribes floating around on numerous blogs and websites.

What I want to briefly discuss is what awaits Ma’Lik after he has served time in the nation’s juvenile penal system.

Once upon a time incarceration was a measure to rehabilitate offenders and allowed for individuals to be reoriented back into society. Now however, incarceration is strictly punitive.

Juvenile facilities are on par if not worse than our nation’s prisons for adults.

After spending what are his formative years in these penal institutions especially with a rape conviction, will he be given a chance at rehabilitation? I hardly doubt it. The fate that awaits him is horrifying to think about.

Once released, his potential as a productive citizen will be severely impeded. Right now the future seems bleak for him. When he cried that no one will want him because of this conviction, he was giving truth to the fact that young Black men are only valued in this society unless they are on the stage or the basketball court.

So yes, after he has been “raised” by the US penal system, who is going to want him?

Will he have the attitude that Black Women have no value?

The way I see it, it is counterproductive for us as Black citizens to argue back forth and “Amen and Hurrah” the convictions of this young man along with his white co-conspirator.

Do I think that justice was served? Absolutely!!!

I mean, this winning basketball team was the pride of this declining industrial town. In effect, these young men were put on a pedestal where they were essentially idolized. For urban youth who have been basically shut out of all the promise and praise that America has to offer, this hero idolatry was very seductive.

Black America which is rapidly losing its foothold cannot afford to have its young people used as fodder in America’s prison industrial complex.

We also can’t be fodder for the populist gender wars.

What I found admirable is that Ma’Lik has already taken the first step in a reconciliation process that has the potential to heal us when he apologized to the father of the victim.

It appears that he has the maturity to realize the magnitude of his actions and its ramifications for our community.

If wholeness and reconciliation is what we want as a people, then let this be a test case. Instead of letting him become lost in the bowels of the criminal justice system, let’s intervene on a massive scale.

By intervention, I mean that we should make sure that he is truly being rehabilitated while behind bars.

Most important is that he should be required to attend antiviolence classes as well as a chance to continue his education which is his right as a minor. As a result, once he walks out of those doors in spite of being required to register as a sex offender for life, he is equipped with the tools to rebuild our community from the bottom up!!!

The dream I envision for him is a motivational speaker and leader.

Take note of the path of Malcolm X who was probably the worst hustler and exploiter of our women and the reverence he now holds among us!!!

Just my thoughts……

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