Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Culture of Violence

As you can imagine, the talk of the town is the four shootings, 14 injured, and 2 dead from halloween night. I heard it made national headlines. I heard the city has already had one large convention cancellation. I hear we are in a battle for the future of our city. I heard those that committed these crimes will be brought to justice. I heard the Department of Justice opened an office in New Orleans this past summer to help our city leaders find real solutions to our crime problem. I heard the murder rate doesn't look to be slowing. I heard these crimes were black on black.

Last night while watching the evening news on the French Quarter shooting, the reporter quickly inserted into a sentence 'black on black crime'. The insert led nowhere. It didn't make any sense and it didn't help explain the shootings in any way. It was a bit shocking. T and I were both startled by those four words. The racism in this city is so in your face I can't fathom a time where it will no longer shock me.

We all know this city has more than a crime problem. We have  poverty problem. We have an education problem. We have a food desert problem. We have a post-tramatic stress disorder problem. We have a corruption problem. Understanding the context of a shooting or even multiple shootings isn't helped by quickly and mindlessly adding the words 'black on black crime'. If the news report had then gone into Katrina displacement, poverty, education, or homelessness related to race, I could have understood why those words were used. But it stopped there. As if to say, hey its not us, its them. And don't think those exact words haven't been repeated to me over the past two days as well.

I like Mayor Landreiu. I like that he stated that these shootings are symptoms of the bigger issues we must find solutions for. What could have been a fist fight ended up killing two people and injuring 14. The folks carrying guns on the street with no ability to solve conflict non-violently can't be explained away by the color of their skin. We truly live in a culture of violence, accepted violence until it injures some tourists in the Quarter. What hasn't made national news are the two shootings that took place next to my house that night. Spain St and Louisa St. St. Ferdinand is nestled between the two but separated by three or four blocks on either side.

Shootings happen in St. Roche all the time. The crack house next to my house is still running. The same red car that was busted a couple weeks ago is still making deliveries. My neighbor, Emanuel, is probably going back to jail before his probation is up because he hasn't been able to reassimilate after 14 years behind bars over the last 8 months. He's starting to not say hi or walk with me to the park and is spending a whole lot more time with the prostitutes that work my neighborhood.

While congress is trying to save the corporations and cut the department of education and shame states into cutting social services for the most vulnerable of our country, we are facing the reality that it is this prioritization of our socitial values over the past thirty years that has raised a generation of children that find it acceptable or more appropriate to shoot their buddy over an argument than punch their face (or talk) and call it a day. Without protecting and lifting up our most vulnerable so that they are no longer our most vulnerable, we will never be able to have a functional financial system or avibrant economy. There is a very real connection between what is happening in Washington DC and what happened on Bourbon St this past Monday night.

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