In yesterday’s blog I identified the source of much of the gun violence in the United States and suggested that any realistic discussion of the subject include those who are actually responsible for most of the violence and cited the fact that the prime perpetrators are black males.
Meanwhile, blacks remain at the bottom of America’s social hierarchy. Every demographic that has come to this country has moved up the socio-economic ladder, from the European immigrants of the early 20th century to the Koreans, Vietnamese, Hispanics, today, compelling me to ask why.
The why is a discussion for sociologists, but common-sense dictates there might be a connection between fatherless homes (70% in the black community) the lowest high school graduation rates of any demographic in America, and gun violence.
~ The Movie Theater ~
A few years ago, Bobbi and were visiting Chicago and had been looking forward to catching a couple of movies a plush downtown theater (the walls so thin at our local theater in Edwards you can hear the toilets flush while watching the feature) so this was our chance to enjoy a flick without distracting noises from the lobby.
We decided to attend the first showing on a Sunday morning and as Bobbi and I walked through the vestibule toward the ticket counter we saw two young boys, both black, brothers perhaps and about 9 and 12 years old respectively. They were pulling a cart loaded with candy and assumed they were selling it at a price lower than what’s sold at theater’s refreshment counter.
I thought to myself, “Hey why not help these kids and buy a snack from them?” So I approached them and asked the older boy for a box of Junior Mints, then asked him what I owed. He handed me the candy, but his response was unintelligible, so again I queried, “How much do I owe you?” Once again, he responded, and while I knew he was speaking English, neither Bobbi nor I could understand a word.
Bobbi then turned to the younger boy and asked him, but like his brother, his words were unintelligible. I gave the older boy a ten-dollar bill and held up the palm of my hand indicating for him to keep the change and as I turned to walk away, both said something, but again, neither Bobbi nor I had a clue as to what they were saying, although I assume it was a thank you.
After the movie we talked about the experience in the vestibule and agreed that the two boys had little or no chance in life and would as likely as not, end up on the streets or in jail.
~ A Slap in the Face ~
Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell, formerly of the Boston Celtics, relates the story about the time his father took, he and his brother to visit an old family friend. The friend was rich, the Russells poor – his old friend was white, while the Russells were black. But Bill’s father and his white friend were men; men who fished together, laughed together, and shared stories; and of all the men that had come and gone in his family’s life, Bill Russell remembered him as his father’s good friend and man whom Russell’s parents always spoke warmly.
Bill and his older brother watched and listened as his father and the old friend chatted, when suddenly the old friend said, “Yeah, Charlie (Bill Russell’s father’s name) you always were a good nigger!” Good nigger? And this was his father’s “friend!” Bill Russell was devasted, and the illusion of equality was shattered in an instant.
As white person I’ll never know what it feels like to be a second class citizen, but as Bill Russell explained, “there was always a latent feeling, an instinct, which every black person develops, i.e., that they are black, which means they are less, and it affects every aspect of the black experience” – Russell described it as “a living, smarting, hurting, smelling, greasy substance, which covered you 24/7,” is it any wonder then that so many blacks feel like second or third class citizens?
Meanwhile, motivational experts tell us that feelings & moods dictate our attitudes, and that it’s our attitude toward the world what determines the world’s attitude toward us. So, when someone is made to feel like a second- or third-class citizen almost from the moment of birth, we shouldn’t be surprised at the behavior that follows.
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, the 1964 Civil Rights and the 1965 Voting Rights Acts have eliminated the institutional aspects of racism, but all the laws in the world won’t change what’s in a person’s heart.
Perhaps the questions we should be asking are…
- Why is it that personal or community responsibility never seems to enter discussions regarding gun violence?
- Why do people re-elect politicians who refuse to address the real causes of gun violence in places like Chicago and Philadelphia?
- And don’t the affected communities also have a responsibility in the matter?
- Why aren’t our inner-city schools fulfilling their responsibility to educate black children?
- Don’t the teachers’ unions have a degree of responsibility?
- And what about the most important single aspect in this matter – parents!
Surely the parents of the two young boys Bobbi and I encountered in the movie theater can see those boys are going nowhere in life, so what’s their responsibility in the matter?
I cannot answer these questions, but until we are willing to discuss them, the problem of gun violence will not abate.
Quote of the day: “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”—Mahatma Gandhi