CC DAVID KOVALUK | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO 2.0
We are condemned to live in a hyper-violent environment riddled with the stench of poverty and desperation. Our days are plagued with peering over our shoulders and hoping that a stray piece of led doesn’t penetrate our heads in a gunfight because two Sams came to a disagreement over trivial concepts. Gun violence is a hypersensitive topic that radiates controversy all across America. However, when it comes to the inner cities, the concrete jungles scattered across the land of milk and honey, gun violence seems to sting harder than a bee sting on a hot summer day.
Why is that? a question that seems to conjure up the most powerful of minds. the thought that black on black crime is a poison that is destroying our communities since the days we were free of being slaves? No that can’t be it. Black on black crime is a myth that was stirred by racist media do demonize black people and to further our incarceration rates. Truth be told, I can’t give a definitive answer as to why gun violence feels so personal within our communities. For me, living in Schenectady it has a lot to do with the fact that this is a small community. We all know each other so when a young black or brown person dies we all feel it. Also, being an empath I feel deeply when one of my own perishes.
My Theory is that, since we come from hell, come from a disadvantage, poverty, racism, etc… the impact of gun violence makes us feel more encased in this trap of pain and self hate that entangles us within the vines of lady oppression. She is a dark, and devious woman that was birthed to keep us ( black and Brown folks) from succeeding. Often times she’ll cause crimes that involve black lives killing other black lives that poisons us further.
Or does it?
Gun violence within our communities is tragic. It is a norm that most of us grow up with. We all know, that one of us may not make it past 18, sometimes 21, sometimes 25. The great poet Meek Mill once said: “where I’m from if you turn 18 then that’s more life”. those words resonate so loudly with so many inner-city kids because that’s their reality. We’re so drowned in fear, hunger, and hopelessness that it ultimately turns our lives into danger. A mess that was stemmed from the hot tars of oppression and systemic racism that will tears off our skins when we touch it. However, this is not just a problem in our communities, this is an American problem. As I said before, we live in a hyper-violent country. In fact, this is the most violent country in the world.
Every year, roughly 30,000 to 40,000 people die of gun violence. roughly three-tenths of those are homicides according to the pewresearchcenter.org,
This is a staggering number, and when you look at the US in total with gun-related deaths in comparison to other countries, the United States More than doubles every single high-end country. In fact, according to CNN.com, the US had 33 gun homicides per 1 million people in 2010. Combining all the other countries in the graph they had 42. That’s an alarming rate when looking at it, and those numbers haven’t changed that much.
Npr.org claims that based on socioeconomic status, the US should only have a violent death rate of .46 per 100,000 people in 2017. That number is actually about 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people. This is staggering! This is peering into how poverty affects gun violence. Many highly impoverished nations have high gun violence rates. For example, El Salvador had a 46.11 rate per 100,000 people in 2017. El Salvador also had a 29% poverty rate in 2017. In comparison to the US which had a12.3% poverty rate. Poverty seems to have a significant hold on gun violence, the correlation seems almost like the two were conjoined at the hip. Maybe that’s why gun violence is such a prevalent conversation in our neighborhoods.
Where most impoverished black and brown folk come from, gun violence, as I said, is a norm. It’s a numbing norm that has caused so much pain and despair it is often overlooked. It also adds to the trauma of growing up in these neighborhoods. However, in the broader spectrum of concepts, it isn’t as big of an issue as it’s been portrayed to be.
Disclaimer, gun violence, especially in the black community is an issue.
However, The United States is a country that is hyper-violent and promotes the ownership of guns. Studies show that you kill who youre around, blacks kill blacks because they’re around other blacks. The same goes for other races. It is the hyper magnification of black on black crime is a myth designed to demonize black and brown people that makes gun violence in our communities so demonized. This in combination with that, we come from impoverished communities with almost nothing. We need to recognize this issue and understand that gun violence is an American issue.
According to BBC.com, The Us owns the civilian gun-owning rate by a landslide with 120.5 firearms per 100 persons. The next closest is Yemen with 52.8 per 100 persons.
When it comes to a larger concept, gun violence is promoted, encouraged and embellished in America. therefore it is a larger American issue that must be addressed before we can address the issue in our communities. Well with negative connotations to be exact. We must, as a people, stop condemning young black youth for killing each other and start condemning America for how it has impoverished and destroyed the communities in which this violence occurs. There are many roots to the tree of gun violence that needs to be destroyed in order for it to wither away.
One example, when a mass shooter gets caught, he can claim insanity. When a young black or brown youth kills another he gets 25 to life and is labeled a killer, a demon and many other negative associations. How often do we look into the mental health of these children that resort to gun violence? How often do we look at the broad concepts of their situations, the low-income housing, the school to prison pipelines, the lack of representation with those sworn to protect and serve them, to take care of their physical and mental health, to teach them? There are a plethora of issues that polymerize into the destruction of the young black and brown mind forcing them to result into gun violence.
And then when the deaths occur we get a swift obituary in the news and then we move on from our everyday lives. As if the trauma of losing a life doesn’t linger like the stench of poverty and oppression we have to drag with on our clothes to school every morning. It is time we start looking at the problems that connect to gun violence and not the interface of gun violence in itself.
Mass shootings have become trending as of late, however, gun violence has been an issue in this country for decades and the country is mum on it.
These issues are systemic oppression, poverty, as well as the hyper-violence and its encouragement in America. there are more issues, and yes, there is a self-responsibility in our communities to change this epidemic. There needs to be more education on financial stability and less intrigue on certain pop culture references that demean the black people. However, every problem has its roots. And it stems from the systemic principles that must be reconfigured by everyday education and investment.
Gun violence is an American issue that has a stranglehold on America. For inner-city youth, it appears to be a numbing pain that plagues us every day. And it’s time we start talking about it.
Here are some points I offer
- No more stop the violence campaigns, more education on deconstructing the inner workings of poverty, systemic oppression, and violence
- less promotion of violence in our communities
- less promotion of pop culture references with the violent paraphernalia
- More education on financial stability, whole homes, and policy to change the poverty rates in these communities.
- more education on developing wealth in our communities, credit building, and business standards
- more teaching of history and how it connects to the present
There are more that I haven’t mentioned, The list is long. But I strongly believe tackling these issues will ultimately become the catalysts to stopping the violence.