Bank robbery trap, Black men recruited for crimes: A Conversation with Deric Muhammad

Community activist Deric Muhammad is concerned about the plight of young Black males and their increased involvement in crime. For this reason, he organized “Project Forward,” a citywide initiative geared at stopping violence, increasing economic development and fighting for justice within the Black community.

He also hosts an annual Black Male Summit, which encourages participants to make smart choices.

Muhammad talked about how increased community involvement can help solve the issue of crime.

Defender: Why should the Black community be concerned about the bank robberies?

Muhammad: The particular issue the Black community needs to be concerned about is that the overwhelming majority of the individuals going to jail for bank robberies in Houston are African-American males. There is a “dark” type of mentorship going on in our community where you have older Black males recruiting younger Black males to commit crimes rather than recruiting them to do something positive.

Defender: What does the seriousness of the crime say about problems in the Black community?

Muhammad: There is a saying that says “extreme conditions sometimes cause extreme measures.” The behavior that you see in our young people is an adequate reflection of our condition. Our condition is so bad that people think that they have to result to that which is not even humane in order to survive or succeed.

Defender: What can the community do to help lead young Black men down the right path?

Muhammad: Special attention needs to be paid to the plight of the Black male because that is where the need is greatest. We have to start giving back to the Black male in our community by way of mentorship. We have to make sure there are enough programs that are specifically designed to enlighten the Black male and create opportunities and options for the Black male. We have to get ahead of the problem because too often, the problem doesn’t come to our attention until it’s too late.

Defender: What should young black men who are desperate for money do if they feel there is no other alternative but crime?

Muhammad: What you should do to make money is first identify your gift or talent. Then you have to find a way to turn that into a profitable business. Start small, be patient until it grows. It is better that you go after the finer things in life using your gifts and talents and having the patience to build up your business than to go into a lifestyle where you have to constantly look over your shoulder.


The above article was published in Volume 83, Number 6 (December 5, 2013) of the Defender newspaper in Houston, TX.

The online version is available at


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