'Victims' victimized promising young people

November 02, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

Donte Young and Lori McDaniel went to Volcano's the night of Oct. 23 probably to listen to music, meet new people and take a much needed break from their college studies. Having fun was on their minds.

In the wee hours of Oct. 24 both had been shot dead, by someone who had come to Volcano's with homicide on his mind. (We can safely assume that assailant was black. No one has reported seeing a white guy firing those shots that brought an end to two promising lives. If he had been, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be holding press conferences and protests on Baltimore's streets even as you read this.) Can any one incident better illustrate that there are, indeed, deep divisions among black Americans?

Oh, we don't like to talk about it, mind you. We'd prefer the myth of black unity, of convincing white America that black America is a monolithic entity with one view and one agenda. Any indication that there are major differences in attitudes and worldviews between Young and McDaniel and the miscreant who so callously ended their lives are classified as "airing dirty linen in public."

But every black person in America knows somebody black whom they'd prefer to stay away from. Some might even be in our own families. In 1970 I was a freshman at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. -- a city in which I have a slew of relatives. At a local nightspot I met my Uncle Charlie, who in a moderately inebriated state invited me to go on a stickup job with him.

"I'll shoot you if you screw up," he said with a frightening tone of pride in his voice.

"I'll pass on it, Unc," I told him. Later my mother, unaware of our chance meeting, advised me to "keep away from Uncle Charlie. He'll get you in trouble." Oh, tell me about it, Mom, I thought.

But accompanying the black American myth of unity is a second myth which says that the reprobates and criminals among us are somehow victims of white racism, deserving of our unremitting sympathy, love and understanding. Anyone deviating from this party line -- which, in essence, says that the murderer of Donte Young and Lori McDaniel deserves more compassion than he showed for his victims -- is viewed as not really black.

But two people who were really black were Young and McDaniel. A moron could see how their lives differed from that of other young blacks who are held back not by white racism, but because they simply are not as dedicated as the Donte Youngs and Lori McDaniels among us.

On any given morning, Young would rise from his bed in his East Baltimore home to attend classes in his special education major at Coppin State College. Lori McDaniel would probably do the same in her Northwest Baltimore home, preparing for her engineering classes at Morgan State University.

Follow Volcano's down Greenmount Ave. and hang a left on Eager St. Walk about two blocks and make a right on Valley St. and go to the end, where the Housing Authority of Baltimore City's Latrobe Day Care Center stands. On any given day, while Young and McDaniel were studying hard at Coppin and Morgan, you could find at least half a dozen young black men selling dope or shooting craps near the day care center.

Assuming -- and believe me this is only for the sake of argument -- that a white racist educational system gave these young black men poor academic preparation (although that same system seems not to have done Young and McDaniel any harm, nor stifled their ambition) and a white racist economy prevents them from getting jobs and a white racist criminal justice system treated them unfairly, we are left with the nagging question of whether it's a white racist system that prevents them from moving their boorish and self-destructive conduct out of the line of sight of children who may emulate it.

But these non-achievers probably don't feel they have responsibility to the younger members of their community -- not with liberal black leadership daily selling them on the notion that they are victims.

One week after Young and McDaniel were killed, two more "victims" chased a man onto a No. 22 bus in East Baltimore. One of the "victims" then pumped a bullet into the head of the pursued man, killing him instantly. On Oct. 31, The Sun ran a story about the shooting with a photograph of one Anthony Rumber, a crime lab technician lifting prints from the scene.

It should be noted that Rumber is black, educated, employed and -- in the current African-American Zeitgeist -- way too successful to qualify for victim status. We don't know much about Rumber just from his photo, but we can surmise that he, like Young and McDaniel, committed himself to education and a successful career. Unlike Young and McDaniel, he was able to achieve that success before some "victim" ended his life.

Pub Date: 11/02/96

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