Reverend Calvin Butts continues to state that Afrika Owes is a victim of the streets and her situation is similar to Patty Hearst. Sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with his interpretation of events. From what I’ve read, Afrika Owes was not taken against her will, nor was she under any duress when she acted as a member of the “137th Street Crew”. While I empathize for this girl, I also understand she must be made to take responsibility for her actions and face up to her crimes.
Afrika Owes is No Patty Hearst. Not by a long shot.
Nor is she a victim. Victims are people who have no control over what happens to them. Afrika Owes was in complete control of herself. While she was probably under a lot of peer pressure, she was acting of her own free will.
Don’t let Reverend Butts fool you, Afrika Owes had choices. She could have stayed the course at Deerfield Academy. She could have focused on her studies and stayed in The Church. And if she wanted to have a boyfriend, there were probably plenty of fine young brothas for her to date in the Youth ministry of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and the Student Leaders at Deerfield Academy.
But she chose to get involved Jaquan “Jay Cash” Layne. And she chose to be his boyfriend.
It was also her choice to get involved with the 137th Street Crew.
She chose to be a gun moll. No one forced her to carry Jaquan’s 9 millimeter pistol in her purse.
And it was of her volition that she willingly accepted gifts from Jay Cash knowing they were purchased with drug loot. Again, no one forced her to take the bling, clothes, and other stuff from this dude. Afrika Owes was no poor desperate chick from the hood that needed the money. This was a girl from a hardworking middle-class family that lived right across the street from the Abyssinian Baptist Church. In between her parents, the Church, and the prep school, she had a network of people who probably bought her anything she wanted.
It was also of her own volition that she chose to run drugs for the 137th Street Crew. Remember, she actually declined to sell drugs for Layne and the 137th Street Crew at her prep school at first, and then decided to do so later on.
Ultimately, it was the sum of her choices that led to her winding up in Rikers Island today.
Reverend Butts, Her Mother Karen Owes, and many in the Black community probably feel guilty. They feel like they’ve failed this girl. They need to stop feeling guilty because they haven’t done anything wrong. They didn’t fail anyone.
The only person who failed Afrika Owes is Afrika Owes.
From personal experience, I know peer pressure is rough. And I know a kid’s head can get messed up listening to the lies, false teachings and twisted propaganda preached by their friends and the media as truth while they search for their own identity. And in the ghetto those messages are not only telling a teenager that they not only have to “belong” but they have to be “Real” as they search for a true “Black” Identity.
But making excuses for Afrika Owes’ behavior isn’t gonna help her grow into a responsible young woman. She chose to get with this crew and sling the rocks and carry the nine. Now she’s got to face up to what she did and pay for her crimes, either with youthful offender status on probation or prison time.
While I support the future rehabilitation of this sista and I want to see her succeed in the future, I refuse to make excuses for her. Enabling her is only going to make her think she’s a victim of circumstances when she actually created her own tragic turn of events.