Are black folks raising knuckleheads?

Or are we dealing with lazy parenting?  That’s the question some black folks in Tennessee are asking especially after a violent disburbance in a movie theater parking lot in East Memphis last weekend. A promotional flyer from a local radio station encouraged youngsters to see two R rated movies that opened recently. Many of the young folks were under age for R rated movies and they were dropped off by their parents. When the young folks were turned away they had no where to go except to hang out in the parking lot and you know what that led to.

Police to increase patrols around Paradiso theater in East Memphis

By Hank Dudding
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Shantique Brady saw the potential for trouble in the way parents offload teens outside the Malco Paradiso on weekend nights.

“It’s like we’re at a parade of minivans, with kids coming out of every door,” said Brady, who manages the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor nearby.

The gathering of youths reached critical mass Saturday night when brawls broke out among hundreds of people gathered in the theater’s parking lot at 584 S. Mendenhall.

Memphis police detained 10 people ranging in age from 12 to 18 for disorderly conduct, issuing misdemeanor citations to some and taking others to Juvenile Court.

“I wish there was a camera so everyone could see how chaotic it was,” said Brady, 29, who closed her store early that night. “It was really crazy.”

Nearly two dozen Memphis police cars responded to the scene. Officers blocked cars from entering the parking lot while vehicles inside were allowed to leave.

The department plans to increase patrols around the theater this weekend, said spokeswoman Karen Rudolph, who encouraged citizens to call police if they see problems.

“We’re hoping it was a one-time thing, and we’re not going to have to deal with it again,” she said.

Malco executive vice president Jimmy Tashie blamed the chaos on underage kids who were dropped off for the R-rated scream flicks “The Final Destination” and “Halloween 2.”

When the teens were turned away, they had no place to go but the parking lot, he said.

“We’re going to let parents know that they can’t drop their kids off … and expect them to go into an R-rated movie,” he said. The Paradiso’s Web site now includes an advisory warning parents that minors will not be admitted to R-rated films.

Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Jerome Wright states that many of the parents are to blame.

Jerome Wright: Parents share blame for Paradiso fights

By Jerome Wright,
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Given that this is Memphis, where bringing up race can be like stepping on a land mine, the local media, police and Malco officials have avoided saying that most of the teens involved in the Aug. 29 brawls outside the Paradiso movie theater were African-American.

But that fact hasn’t been lost on talk radio shows and in the community.

The chaos that Saturday night outside Malco’s flagship theater once again has left many African-Americans asking why our teens have to act like knuckleheads when they gather in large numbers without direct supervision. Anecdotal news reports of fights and shootings, some fatal, at these kinds of gatherings feed that perception.

Many people believe that roving groups of loud, cussing and N-word-using African-American teens helped kill the Mall of Memphis, Peabody Place shopping mall and the movie theater in Peabody Place.

Some African-Americans reading this are seething about now. How can an African-American write such things? And some whites are probably saying “Tell it like it is, brother!”

You all need a reality check.

Teens, black and white, like to hang out in large groups, whether it’s at a movie theater or shopping center parking lot after hours. They do things they normally wouldn’t do within sight or earshot of their parents or teachers, such as illegally swigging alcohol, smoking and cussing. African-American kids, however, generally are louder and more demonstrative, and that feeds into all the usual racial stereotypes.

I don’t go to the movies on Friday or Saturday nights anymore because there is too much hubbub inside and outside the theater. I cringe when I hear African-American teens loudly calling each other the N-word, especially in front of whites. Inside the theater, some kids are constantly moving around and talking. Teens and adults alike hold long-running cell phone conversations during the movie. Catching a flick on a weekend afternoon is a lot calmer.

You hate to read that young black folks are the cause of shopping centers or movie theaters shutting down. But what normal, law abiding person wants to shop or go to the movies where rowdy, unsupervised young kids are running wild? That’s why you hear some black folks say that they don’t shop at such and such shopping center or mall. Or they avoid going to certain movie theaters or only go the movies during a certain day or time. No one wants to deal with those headaches.

Check out the following articles for more info about the East Memphis incident:

Police to increase patrols around Paradiso theater in East Memphis

Where were the teens’ parents?

Malco Paradiso theater tightens security; vows better crowd control

One response

  1. This last week there was also that fight at the Chicago school where some kids beat an A – student to “Death”. the picture looked like they were mostly AA.

    I would like to correspond with Shantique Brady, we may be distand relatives. Can you forward my email address to her.

    Thank you.

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