Day 29 Question 29:
Why is there so much violence in this country?
So I am in the midst of watching a documentary called The Interrupters. It is based in Chicago, Illinois (and the outskirts) and it is about the epidemic of violence that is occurring every single day on the streets of this country. I have seen violence but I have never seen violence like this. We have troops being shipped off overseas to fight for the freedom of this country and at the same time we have wars breaking out in our own streets. I am only half way through this documentary and there has now been mention of a 13 year old being shot and killed (he was shot 22 times), a 14 year old being shot in the leg because he jumped in front of his cousin to save him, while at a memorial service for a young boy a fight broke out and the police ended up having to leave that scene to go a couple of blocks over because there was a homicide that just occurred. It seems unreal that this kind of violence could occur. I am going to open up a can of worms by saying this but what I kept thinking about while watching this was every single person on film (and there have been a lot) are black. My next statement is just a known stereotype (I do not believe this stereotype because I know it is not true) but black people are stereotyped to be thugs, poor, uneducated people. Remember, I am just stating the stereotype, I am not at all saying that it is the truth. What I don’t understand is why these people in these poor neighborhoods choose to live the stereotype. They are the stereotype. I have met and worked with many, many, many black men and women that are well-spoken and successful. I have even worked and been friends with some that have not come from the best circumstances but have chosen to make a better life for themselves. I know black, white, Asian, etc. people that come from nothing that have chosen to push forward and not be the stereotype. Everyone in life has a choice. They get to choose their actions and reactions. I do understand that when you grow up a certain way that is what you know but I find it hard to believe that at some point in their lives they did not catch wind that violence is wrong and there is absolutely no benefit to it. In this documentary a mother moved out of her own house because her two grown sons (prob 18 and 19) were in opposing gangs and she started to fear for her own life. They have no idea where she even lives. Her sons, related by blood, were threatening to kill each other. What is wrong with that picture? Again, we have men and women traveling thousands of miles, dodging bullets, being victims of roadside bombs, fighting for the freedom of every individual in this country because they have such a great respect and love for this country and its people but we have people on our own soil that are so ignorant (yes I said it) and so “proud” that they would kill someone in their own family. They would be willing to kill someone for not paying them back $5.
Trust me I understand that people grow up in a certain lifestyle and that is what they understand and know but I just don’t understand how violence like this has escalated in the way that it has. How can ANYONE be ok with putting a bullet in someone and taking their life? How can ANYONE be ok with bashing a person’s face in to the point that he/she is unrecognizable? I believe violence like this occurs because we (not everyone but a lot of people) have unfortunately become a society that believes in entitlement. The world owes us a favor for some reason or another. I used to teach a Life Skills class to young women (ages 16-30). These were all young women that had children and were all studying to take the GED. Yes, you figured it out, they were all high school dropouts. Each and every one of these women fell far below the poverty line. It was not an uncommon occurrence to walk into the class and find two of them arguing (standing up in each other’s faces waving their fingers at each other) about something or another. It was usually about some guy, most likely one of the “baby daddy”. The girls would be in screaming matched because supposedly one of them slept with the father of the other one’s baby. It amazed me to watch because most of the time it was just a rumor AND the guy that they were fighting about was not even remotely worth the fight. These two young women, that had all kinds of potential in the world, would be fighting over some guy that is a high school dropout, unemployed, drug dealer with a criminal record. I guess I just don’t understand the appeal. While in the same class, I had one girl look at me and tell me the government did nothing for her. Ok, mind you, I was the minority in this classroom. I was amongst women that have been known to be violent. A chord was struck with me when this girl said that and I turned her world upside down and set her straight really quick. I said to her, “How much do you think it costs for you to sit in this classroom right now (for the 3rd consecutive year in a row)?, How much do you think it costs for that GED examination to just be set in front of you? How much do you think is taken out of my paycheck every single week in order for you to have food on your table and a roof over your head? How much do you pay in rent every single month?” My rant went on for a good fifteen minutes. That day the ladies in my class learned a great deal about how the welfare system worked and where the money really comes from. They may not have thought they would be getting an economics lesson that day but they got one. The thing about it though was from that day forward they had a different kind of respect for me. I didn’t back down to them. I was on their playing field. A place that they understood. I let them know that NO ONE owes them anything. I let them know that they can have anything they want and achieve anything they want and get themselves out of their lives of poverty but it is going to take hard work. They were going to have to work harder than they would ever have to in their whole lives. I told them that the choice was theirs but from that day on I didn’t want to hear even one of them bitch about anyone owing them anything. It was a monumental moment for me. No, I am not Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds but I was fed up. With the jobs that I had, I was hearing stories every single day about how everyone was a victim but no one was doing anything to try to make their situations better. In so many jobs there is so much red tape. As employees we are forced to walk on eggshells and make sure we don’t stir the pot. We can only say certain things. That makes my head want to explode. In the county I reside, in 2008 there were 171 pregnant teens, 42 of them were under 17. In the county I reside they do not allow contraception education. In the schools we are only allowed to teach Abstinence Only. REALLY????? We see the vicious cycle of teens becoming parents and not finishing school, being more apt to a life of crime and living a life of poverty. Yes, I agree that we should teach abstinence but come on…we need to step into the 21st century and accept that kids are having sex and they are having sex at younger and younger ages. I believe we shoot ourselves in the foot a lot because we have so much duct tape covering our mouths. Let’s make sure not to ruffle any feathers. If a parent does not want a child to participate in a sex education class involving contraception education then that can be his/her choice. I will be blatantly honest by stating my opinion and say that is a very ignorant choice of today’s parents. A part of me feels like we have so many issues with violence, teen pregnancy and poverty because no one really talks about it. We (teachers, government employees, etc) are constantly given a script of what we can say and what we cannot say. Well, sometimes kids need to hear the harsh truth and know what reality really is. If violence like this occurs all over this country then kids need to be subjected to videos showing a child (yes I say child) their same age with their brains splattered all over the pavement from a gun shot. Kids need to be exposed to prisons and meet prisoners and hear their stories. Kids need to hear from single mothers that are struggling to make ends meet-walk into a home that should have been condemned years ago but people live there. These
things are life.
This is a subject that I get pretty heated about because I feel like there is so much that can be done that isn’t being done. We have become a society that must always be so politically correct and worrisome about offending someone that we aren’t teaching our kids about the real world at all. Our kids are growing up ignorant because we are teaching them to be ignorant.
I must say again as I always do that everything I have said here is based strictly on my opinions and my experiences. I realize that every situation is different. I write this blog to hear other people’s opinions. I want to know other people’s stories. :0)