Lessons from the Field
The conclusion of this book summarizes the most compelling lessons from this study. These lessons are likely to be of interest to practitioners, policymakers, and scholars interested in helping to address what is commonly described as “the crisis” facing young Black men. At the interpersonal level, these lessons are profound in their simplicity. First, change takes time. Second, change is often framed as an individual’s personal journey, but successful change is better imagined as an interactional process. Finally, relationships are transformative. Put simply, an individual’s pathway to change may begin with an internal awakening, but successful efforts at change are often sustained with and for others. At the structural level, these lessons challenge the objectives and organization of the crime-fighting community and strengthens calls for a more effective, inclusive and liberating form of organization that would build buffers and bridges for youth most vulnerable to violence and contact with the criminal justice system. An appreciation of these lessons can improve current efforts to support people and programs that are committed to helping people change their lives. The conclusion moves beyond the Fillmore to programs that embrace these principles. These lessons are necessary, but not sufficient components to addressing the persistence of violence in poor, Black neighborhoods; reaching that objective requires a commitment from social institutions to create the conditions for change and, more importantly, freedom for those most vulnerable to violence.
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