(Todd A. Smith)

Houston community activist Deric Muhammad said it correctly when he said the Black community had plummeted to a new low when a father and son got accused of the robbery and murder of rapper PnB Rock at a Los Angeles area Roscoe’s Chicken ‘N Waffles.

A time once existed when people involved in the streets did not want their children or younger siblings to fall into the same traps that led them into a life of crime.

Nowadays, it seems like street life has no code and having father figures in children’s lives might sometimes do more harm than good as we try to raise up the next generation of Black men.

According to TMZ, “A father and son have been both charged with murder in the shooting death of rapper PnB Rock.

“LA County District Attorney George Gascon made the announcement (last) Thursday, saying Freddie Lee Trone and his 17-year-old son were both charged with one count of murder and conspiracy to commit robbery as well as two counts of second-degree robbery…

“Shauntel Trone, the 17-year-old’s stepmother, was also charged in connection to the murder with one count of accessory after the fact.”

PnB Rock and his girlfriend entered Roscoe’s Chicken ‘N Waffles in a notorious Los Angeles neighborhood, and the rapper from Philadelphia was decked out in jewelry.

Allegedly, the teenager went into the eatery to rob the rapper and killed him in the process.

Supposedly, the father served as the getaway driver after his son allegedly robbed and murdered PnB Rock.

The father has since been caught after going on the run in the wake of PnB Rock’s killing.

Unfortunately, hearing of the killing of young rappers has become too commonplace these days.

Decades ago, rap fans were stunned at the murders of stars like Scott La Rock of Boogie Down Productions, Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.

However, in the 21st century, it seems to happen monthly or even weekly.

But the fact of the matter is we are all to blame.

As a society, we continue to glorify street life as if it is some desirable lifestyle that brings something other than misery and pain.

Whether the cause is hip-hop, gangster television shows and movies or lack of role models and lack of opportunities, we must admit that something has gone wrong in the Black community when people who get out of jail are celebrated more than people who start a legitimate business or get out of college.

Decades ago, many people saw no options than to live a life of crime.

However, many of those same people tried to make sure that their children and younger siblings did not follow in their footsteps.

One of the biggest success stories of a person that got rich on the streets but then transferred that success to dominance in corporate America is James Prince, the founder of Houston-based Rap-a-Lot Records.

Prince started that label to make sure that his brother Thelton Prince did not follow him into a life of crime.

The music mogul turned boxing mogul wanted to break his family’s generational curse of poverty.

But he did not want to do so via street money.

So, he got in the game, but then quickly turned over a new leaf when he could not tolerate the treachery of the streets anymore.

He also made sure young rappers who wanted to sign to the label stayed in school before he would record them.

The devout Christian also would make sure that his artists and employees joined him at his local church for worship and Bible studies.

God had blessed Prince to escape the street life and he wanted to make sure that he shared his wisdom and knowledge with others so their lives would not lead them to prison or an early grave.

My family has a similar story, as do many other Black families.

My father’s eldest brother Leon “Hollis” Smith left high school early and gravitated towards the street life.

Although my uncle had a legitimate job, he also had a penchant for the night life, which included numerous fights and worse.

My Uncle Hollis did not graduate high school and spent many nights in some violent juke joints.

However, he would not allow my father to attend those same places.

My uncle known for regularly winning fights, warned my father that he would be his next victim if he saw him hanging out at such juke joints.

My father heeded his brother’s warnings and became the first person in the Smith family to graduate from college.

Uncle Hollis’ youngest son and stepdaughter also graduated from college before finding success in the oil and gas business and education, respectively.

The street life eventually took my uncle when he was just in his early 40s.

But his story is a cautionary tale for every Smith that has come along since.

Street life inevitably leads to misery.

So, why would you want the people that you love to share in your misery?

Now, instead of the 17-year-old going off to college, trade school, the military or starting a business, he might spend the rest of his life in prison.

Luckily, the father might get to hang out with his son regularly if both get convicted of their alleged crimes.

While there, Trone will have plenty of time to write his wife and she will have plenty of time to respond if she gets convicted too.

The Trone family story symbolizes the never-ending cycle for some Black families.

While some families brag about the number of doctors or lawyers the family has, some obviously brag about the number of convicted felons they have.

If so, that reality reiterates Muhammad’s point that the Black community has indeed hit an all-time low.

We must do better, y’all!

Todd A. Smith
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