Politicians Clueless about Solving Issue of Gang Violence
In Section A-4 (T-N-T on 7/22) “Leaders ask Cantwell for help with gangs” there was a picture of a roundtable panel of everyone except members of the at-risk communities that the forum is supposed to help. This is not the first time that experts in the fields of social and health services, a pastor or community leader (usually White) will convene a moratorium on crime in the poor, inner city, or urban areas. Even the two-term junior U.S. Senator from Edmonds, Maria Cantwell was invited (by whom?) to attend. Now does the esteemed Senator really understand or is sympathetic to problems in the hood’? How many people of color live in Edmonds?
Out of the extensive coverage over the past couple of weeks, a few consistent themes emerge. It seems that those who want to get jumped’ or initiated into a gang don’t have a role model that they can look up to (emulate), respect, and to set boundaries for them. These youth, without moral direction and guidance, have no respect for authority, and exhibit repressed anger or rage. The gang provides what is lacking, and that is a sense of identity, bonding, and loyalty. There is to a certain degree, fear and uncertainty, but holding your own against several other bangers’ as part of the ritual for being worthy (hard’ and not no “bitch”) allows one to mask those insecurities.
Before money is allocated to “fight” the gangs, one must try to understand how gangs are created in the first place. For one thing, consider the word Community, a derivative of the word “common”, in which people shared and had an interest in one another. When one’s neighbor doesn’t give a damn, is apathetic and only involved in their own self-interest or survival, then something has to fill that vacuum. A gang cannot survive where a community is strong, vibrant, and cares about its members. To the law enforcement hardliners or parole reformers, a larger and more aggressive police presence, stiffer prison sentencing, and pleas from former gang leaders will not necessarily dissuade impressionable young males.
One of the best ways to solve the riddle of gang recruitment is to demystify the images of the glorious gangster lifestyle. Heroes do not inflict needless pain and suffering on those who are weaker and vulnerable, but rather, protect the innocent and defend the weak. To attack someone without justification or cause is the act of a bully and a coward. The real measure of a man’ is not based on how good he is with his fists, or how many children he can father, but rather, one who is morally upright, compassionate, respectful and has integrity. To this end, incentives must be offered to give teenage youth (males and females) a better choice, like martial arts training that place more emphasis on discipline and meditation techniques than on the best fighting skills.
Also, vocational and technical courses need to be tailored to mirror real-world expectations in the workplace and should be taught at community centers or church schools in partnership with the various city, county, state or federal agencies. It seems illogical to have panelists discussing a subject that most of them have very little or no experience living among. Their role should be that of facilitators among those most directly affected by gang activity; perhaps the victims and the perpetrators. Oh by the way, whatever happened to the Big Brother Big Sister Program? Lastly, all the enticing music videos and hype’ behind the names of various performers, producers, and living the “thug life” is not what its all cracked up to be; in fact, it is cracked for real. No, the solution for the problem of gangs will not come from outside the community but within it. Only those who are sick need a physician; and the doctor is in and makes house calls.