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Don't Blame It On Youth -- Elijah Wells Shatters Negativity

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It completely disturbed me to hear the news a few days ago that some youth took to the streets and attacked a young man simply based on his looks. The group of kids pinpointed him for his Sikh appearance--beard, turban and his obvious South Asian heritage.

The man described the attack by his assailants very vividly. He said they pulled on his beard, punched him, kicked him, and threw out hateful words such as "terrorist."

In America, New York City to be specific, we take pride in referring to our diversity and blending of cultures as a "melting pot." With this ideal as a basis for our nation, how does something like this happen?

There are many theories that come into play on this topic.

But for me, as an African-American Christian, I believe the lack of tolerance stems from lack of fear for a higher being other than ourselves, lack of respect for life and lack of education or learning. It's also failure of being open to learn from others outside of our immediate circle, and while I'm writing honestly, it's partly due to good, old-fashioned boredom.

There is a saying, "An idle mind is the devil's playground." There is much to be said about that statement. It is up to us as parents, young adults and human beings to find positive ways to engage ourselves and fill our time.

It just makes sense.

When I have my hands filled doing something productive, where in God's good name would I have the time or energy to ride my bike to round up the posse in order to assault another human being?

We can't totally blame these things on youth either, because they too have a social responsibility to themselves, to others and certainly to their elders, to choose to do right.

I met an extraordinary young man, only 15 years old, who described to me how he spent a majority of his youth. He shared with me how he committed to something, a passion that led him to an amazing opportunity. An opportunity that will forever change his life.

At my yearly visit to the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), I noticed this young man who was soon identified as a filmmaker. He had attended a film camp through the organization in pursuit of his dream to be a filmmaker. I immediately wanted to interview him, if not for the simple fact that he was sharing space with legends such as Bill Duke, Robert Townson, Malcolm Lee and Spike Lee.

Because of his time spent at camp he knew the lingo, he had been trained to know blocking, camera angles, etc. But I needed to know if he understood the power of that moment in time. And to my pleasant surprise he did.

Elijah Wells described perfectly how he not only has an understanding of concepts that many adults still seek, as well as what it would mean to his future this opportunity. On top of all that, he is appreciative. Appreciative for his mother's help in getting him on the right track in his dream, appreciative for the opportunity he has been given and appreciative of the art of filmmaking.

So to those young men that attacked that man, that night, in Harlem--your actions and decisions, if not thought out completely, will forever decide your fate!

Think. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.