Like the rest of the country, I couldn't help but notice the occurrence of black teen '"flash mobs" around the country. For those who haven't been made hip to the game, flash mobs are random groups of people who get together and do "stuff."
The acts committed by flash mobs can be na´ve and cute, like singing the Star Spangled Banner on one leg while drinking a Pepsi. They can also be nasty and violent, like beating down anyone who happens to be passing by.
We can leave it to teenagers to find creative and potentially frightening ways to use the amazing power of social media. Black teen flash mobs have been formed throughout the country, with many of them being designed to break the law in some way.
The most recent incident involved the 60-second robbing of a 7-11 store in Maryland. A group of teens got together on Twitter/Facebook/email/Myspace/text message and agreed to walk in the store, grab things off the shelves, and then walk out.
Another series of incidents occurred in Philadelphia, leading Philly Mayor Michael Nutter to put the entire city on lockdown with a 9 p.m. curfew for all citizens under the age of 18. Mayor Nutter went so far as to appear in a church in Philadelphia to proclaim that these young people had "damaged" their own race. Nutter is certainly correct that it's difficult to excuse the behavior of flash mobs, especially those who engage in violence.
I can't help but notice how the creation of flash mobs is probably the first time in recent memory that black teenagers have gotten this much attention from media or public officials. Rather than focusing on the teenagers who are doing great things with their lives, the media loves to put a spotlight on the few scary looking black kids who decide to rob a store on a Saturday night. In spite of the media bias, there are quite a few reasons that the media, Mayor Nutter and the rest of us could have been paying attention to black teenagers in the past.
TAKE NOTE: the author is himself African American