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expo logoThe Indianapolis African-American community created Indiana Black Expo forty years ago. They feel a sense of ownership to the organization and event.  Here’s a sampling of the e-mails Afternoons with Amos has received this week about the Black Expo violence and this year’s Expo events. The words are as the writers wrote them. Only punctuation and grammar changes were made. – Amos Brown

Why don’t you quit planning activities for the children and in fact raise your children? God forbid we discuss that 80% of Black children are born out of wedlock or that 50% will not graduate from high school who enter high school. The blame game is simple.  Look in the mirror. – Joe

Why can’t the churches have an outreach program at the State Fairgrounds for the Kids? –  Robert

I was downtown with my kids and saw the chaos from my room. One thing I did notice while the thousand of kids were on the street. On the 20th floor of Embassy Suites were the board and staff of expo with open suites with plenty of drinks and food. It was brought to my attention by hotel staff that expo pays for board members suites and supplies food for most of them. Have been doing this for years.  Can expo reduce board and staff perks in order to save money on the front and charge less to get in. Expo has to look at all areas in order gather complete control of event – mweb (e-mail signature).

I want to know what is this “rush” to make a statement and pulling together a “committee of “old thinking heads” to address just the shooting incident. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more underlying problems to be addressed.  What they need now is an independent facilitator to come in and pull together a cross-cultural and civic team to address the issues from the programming to safety and whatever else there may be.  You will get the same answers from same people who feel they are beholding to their boss or friend sitting across the table.  It is time to not care about whose toes may get stepped on and re-build Expo if it is to be re-built.

I think that instead of having teens side-step the college/trade/vocational booths, in order for them to get to the “hip-hop” stuff, etc. They must stop at one of those booths and get a ticket punched and hear a presentation before moving on into the rest of the hall.  They must learn something educational (whether they want to hear it or not).  Maybe they hear flipping burgers at McDonalds may get you to own your own McDonalds OR maybe you learn something about scholarships or filling out college applications.

Expo has created this monster by catering to teens (because they are not spending money at the exhibit hall, they spend it on the concerts, celebrity basketball, etc.).  Circle Center mall pushes teens out onto the street, but Expo will say the shooting is not related to Expo because it did not happen at an Expo event!  Ms. Bell has to consider how Expo has damaged Indianapolis’s image.  But, since she gave the Mayor an award, I guess she feels she’s safe.

Of course my suggestions won’t get heard because Black Expo never wants to hear from anyone except their own tight knit group. – Leslie

I tried to get in today. The line was constantly busy. However I would like to comment on the Expo incident. Just think about this.  With 392 policemen downtown not one of them was able to see the person with the gun. Please, they are trained to look for things like that. -The whole thing was a SET UP. No black person goes in a crowd and shoots spontaneously, that is what white people do. If a black was the shooter he goes after the one he is aiming and shoot the one person. I found it odd all shots were made to the leg area.  The camera did not show the kid with the gun. I found this ironic. The morning paper had a picture of the Mayor and Safety Director shaking hands. To me the smirk on the Mayor’s face indicated, IT WORKED.

Now they have us doing just what they wanted us to do. Talk about each other, accusing one another of God knows what. They are now talking about moving the EXPO to the Fairgrounds, that was the intention all along. Thy do not want blacks downtown, since they have made it a white city. With all the condos and apartments, how many blacks live down there?

I do not think that kid they arrested is guilty. He is the scapegoat to shut us up. Think about the realm of the whole situation.  – Paula

One of your callers said they need more for the kids to do but when the shooting was happening there was something going on the teen forum was from 3-10. My kids were in the Fieldhouse and I waited on the steps until teen bling was over. The kids were hanging out they did have things to do they just weren’t doing them. We can’t blame ALL THE TEENS for the shooting. – Tina

I understand what every one is saying but concerning The Teen Bling should have an adult with them at the concert.  All under the age of 18. Cost of $15.00- the Black Expo gave us the opportunity to purchase tickets buy one get one free and at the door $15.00 …so I don’t understand the complaint about the cost.  I am57 yrs old and I got my ticket on Friday the very last day. – Patricia

Amos, my old saying is ‘roaches come out at night!’  My term ‘roaches = wrong acts of crime (with us down there). I strongly suggest that we (the IBE powers that be) change the IBE ‘shut down’ time to 7pm. Most of the mess that happens down there at IBE times are night time hours. So in that case I would think it might be better to end while it is still light outside and by night fall most of that wild crowd has gone. – Ezra

We have 3 services during Expo – Ecumenical, Praise in the Park and Sunday service. We need all of them.  During the time of Expo, Sat pm between 7pm thru 12pm we could have but men mainly needed (women also) with t-shirts on that are United by Faith. I am a Christian but in my opinion it should not leave out other faiths for this task.  The purpose during those hours the men would help by walking around where the youth are walking. The group of faith would walk around together during these hours saying hello to the young people. If there were issues, they would try help or call the police if needed.

1. The main purpose of the group would be to try to decrease the violence during these hours by letting young people know that people of faith were around who care.

2. If something did happened, the youth and families in the incident would be engaged by Black Expo and the men of faith try to mentor the young people long term.

3. Black Expo could send out a call to all churches, and request the men of the church

4. Months prior the group would have meeting with police and Expo. –  Joyce

I would suggest a march by Expo organizers that denounces the shooting of black boys by black boys.  It would be heartening to see a march; one that says that violence against black boys by anyone is not condoned.  Vinindy (e-mail signature)

I saw the news (in frustration) Saturday night on Channel 8 as a fight unfolded between 2 teen girls directly behind the camera on live T.V. Also after hearing that 10 people were shot (1 being a 10yr old boy) I was angry. If it was up to me and I was the Mayor of the city or President of the Expo I would cancel it for the next year for such behavior and anytime someone is shot or even killed on the streets during Expo weekend. I know that may not sit to well with people but our Afro American community needs to receive a hard message that if you want events like this then you need to behave like human beings. I think that life is more important then bringing money into our city. As for the President of Expo I do not see how she could make any statements about the weekend shootings when the Expo year after year holds concerts for youth and put some sexually singing adult, or a perverse rapper in front of the youth! What do you think the mindset of the youth will be when they come out of that concert, the Expo put youth in a environment to act out (even with the police there) and then release them into the streets like hormone raging animals. The Expo feeds are youth exactly what we are trying to stop them from becoming!

I still see parents sending there young teens out into the Expo streets with no supervision because they themselves are either at home and do not want to be bothered or going to clubs themselves.

Maybe they should hold the expo and the events early in the morning from 9am-3pm and shut all events down by 6pm, that way it is still daylight for people to walk around and the police can monitor activity more effectively and gain more order before 10pm.NO NIGHT CONCERTS. – Jerome

I would hate to see Expo not do anything for Teens, but I think the time should be shortened like Chicago did it with the Taste.  The Taste now ends at 7p.   Apparently, some people don’t know how to act. – Leslie

Comments on Black Expo:

1.       There are 5 people on my family.  Me, my husband and children ages 10, 8 & 5.  We paid $15.00 for everyone ($60.00), except the 5 year old.  Next year we would have to pay $15.00 for him under the current pricing, if we were to attend ($75.00).  We will not attend if the pricing is the same next year because this is too expensive.  They have priced the family unit out.

2.       The food is over- priced.

3.       The Teen Bling is over-priced.

4.       There needs to be an adult supervision policy.  I witnessed too many children who were downtown for the entire weekend with no adult supervision.  It is too much.

5.       I appreciate the report given by an officer on the 11 pm news.  He spoke about the Expo being a great event that most people were able to enjoy and have a great time.  He isolated the problem to a few individuals.  I appreciated his appreciation for the Expo and all of the many people who conducted themselves well and hoped that everyone could continue to enjoy themselves.

6.       I question the leadership of Black Expo because they appear to be out of touch with the their people and motivated by money alone.

7.       Why was Mayor Ballard given an award by Expo?  Surely there are people of color who are more deserving of this award. – Tara

I am a 53 yr old life long resident of Indpls w/2 grown children (who live in Houston and Atlanta). If your child is old enough to drive, they have to be old enough to act with respect at a function w/o the parents.

For people who say that parents should not drop off their kids, do they escort their children (young adults) to the State Fair, high school football and basketball games, to the mall. No they don’t.

Parents need to be responsible at home and be an example for their children. Just my view, my children know what I will say to a situation, I call that good…I try to say and do the same thing, so my kids won’t have to guess what I would do or say in a situation. – Erskine

What happened during IBE was deplorable at best!

It would be so helpful if a large team of volunteers perused the streets to hand out flyers and engage in conversation to teach these knucklehead kids about the true meaning and purpose of Expo (black excellence, history and pride).  This is not Freaknik, yet if you go on YouTube, that’s how it’s being portrayed!  Kids posting videos of the scantily clad girls and other unruly behavior with titles such as “EXPO WEEKEND was off the chain!”  I recently saw an article about Expo preserving its brand, which was very capitalistic in nature…the effort of protecting their brand should be about integrity and legacy.  Year after year these trouble makers converge downtown and cause ruckus, disrespect passersby (both black and white), curse, yell the N word to get the attention of each other amongst other embarrassing events.  This has got to stop!  – Candace

Why do we have to keep hearing about the mayor not meeting with the ministers? If the ministers are the “leaders” in the black community, then they are failing. I’m betting that all of these youths that are killing each other are not sitting in the pews on Sundays. How is that the mayor’s fault?

There are plenty of people to blame before you ever get to the mayor, city

officials, police, etc… Let’s focus on the real problems instead of the

politically correct answers. – Brian

I am 48 yrs old. I and my Family used to look forward to going to Expo but in the last 3yrs, not so. The Gospel event has become a tryout for upcoming artist, programming has been poor at best and this year I didn’t go at all. I think it needs to be serious consideration looked at on the part of the Leadership of Expo. Rev. Williams had a better programming and vision then those who are in leadership today have. – Anthony

I thought that all along most of the events for the Black Expo are geared toward young adults and teens; but hardly anything is planned for “families”.  Maybe they could partner w/the Zoo or IN Museum of History, etc.  Have a family night @ the movies?  Something that would involve the entire family.

Also, the $15.00 dollar entrance was entirely too high.   I am sure that had a lot to do with people not attending the Expo.   But then the shooting incident just put the skids on everything. – Donna

I want to speak on the incidents that happened Saturday night are not a direct reflection of Expo.  Attacking Black Expo is not the answer.  The issue is much broader and deeper.  The ones that attend Expo are typically good kids.  The ones that cause trouble most likely do not attend any Expo events.  Cancelling a once a year event such as Black Expo is not the answer.  Our community, both black and white, need to address the issues of education, poverty, lack of jobs, lack of self esteem, babies having babies, mentoring young men and women, prisons being built especially for the black community and other such issues, year round, then when Expo comes around these incidents don’t happen. – Antonio

Teen Bling should not be blamed for the blatant disrespect and disregard of some.  It is a safe environment for youth.  However, some perimeters need to be MANDATORY as IBE goes forward.

A parent or guardian should have to accompany every child under the age of 16.  Considering that there is actually nothing that could prevent someone seeking to do harm to a child or a sex offender from walking the streets downtown.  Secondly, why would any parent want a 10 year old walking around by themselves?  You wouldn’t be able to do that at any mall, King’s Island or Disneyland.

The youth that was downtown were also not all from Indianapolis.  Why aren’t callers jumping up and down about the unescorted teens from outside of the city running thru the hotels, malls and streets bring chaos?

At the end of the day, IBE is not your child’s babysitter.  It’s the responsibility of parents, not IBE or other people to be responsible for your children. Grow up and take care of your own children! – Lori

I have been a major exhibitor at the Black Expo Summer Celebration for the last 5 years.  For the last couple of years the attendance is constantly falling.  Next year, I might not return.   I agree with several of your callers; the booth space is extremely high.  Not to mention you have to pay the convention center for utilities which can run anywhere from $200 – $4000 or more depending on your set-up.  I have to raise my fees in order to see any type of profit. I had to buy several extra wristbands which I thought was outrageous in order to run my booth.  I know a lot of vendors will not return because the return on investment is not there.  There was nothing for small kids to do this year!   In the future when the convention center remodeling is finished all of the events needs to take place in the same building.

I have a lot of friends and family that does not come downtown and participate in the summer celebration because they believe that the Expo is constantly going down. – Darryl

IBE’s selection of the noted members of their Task Force is a great start.  But it’s just that…a start. If IBE truly wants to lead the way in eradicating senseless violence by our youth, their stakeholders deserve to be included.  If there are no plans to include ordinary people, business owners and other organizations in the African American community (i.e. the NAACP, Indianapolis Urban League, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, all religious denominations) to represent the community, most importantly, our youth (gang bangers need to be invited also); they will have missed the meaning of their own tagline “Working Together Works.”

I hope IBE’s leadership, Tanya Bell, President, and John Thompson, Chairman of the Board, are listening. – Laura

They should have a set up like the Recorder picnic use to be and set up buses at neighborhood churches for the kids to ride downtown and a control environment and have the buses leave before curfew – Mallen

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