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Back in the day, neighbors and extended family helped raise children and set them on the right path when they went astray, San Francisco-based author Shawn Taylor recalls at Ebony. Today, much of the black community is splintered, and families have become more fractured and increasingly violence-prone. He asks where we should go next.

… One side argues that the lack of a cohesive Black community is a media fabrication. The other side accuses Black folks of thinking we "made it," a supposed fallacy brought about by the mythologizing of the Civil Rights Movement and the election of Barack Obama. The truth, as always, is quite a bit more complex.

For the past decade, I've been working with adolescent males in the juvenile justice and mental health systems. I do community-based work, so I'm always where the people live and work. During the course of my day I see heartbreaking things, but the following killed me. They happened 10 minutes apart:

1. A teenage sister was walking with a little girl. She took the girl's bottle, poured out the water, filled it with soda, and gave it back to the little girl, who eagerly drank.

 2. A young couple was walking down the street, pushing a baby boy in a stroller. The baby became fussy, so the young woman picked the baby up, hugged and kissed him. The young man snatched the little boy and shoved him back into his stroller. The little boy started to wail. The young man looked at the young woman and said, "You better stop spoiling that little ni;;a. You want that little ni;;a to be b!+¢h?"

After those incidents, I felt disappointed in myself because I didn't step in to offer support. This was new for me, as I always intervene. Always. I live by a simple code: Act the way you want the world to be. Don't react to the way that it is. I want the world to be a place where children are raised in love and health. So, what stopped me?

Read Shawn Taylor's entire piece at Ebony.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.