North Texas Daily

The honest truth about gang violence, and the need to discuss it

The honest truth about gang violence, and the need to discuss it

April 21
00:44 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer


Born and raised in East Texas, community division was second nature to me.

While I was fortunately provided with a Gifted/Talented education, growing up in the southern part of my hometown meant days spent dreaming of a life akin to the more urbanized north-side. Since my neighborhood was a hop-scotch away from actual “hoods,” my mother and I always had to go north for grocery shopping – especially because our only proximate shops were lowly supermarkets and dollar stores where criminal activity sometimes took place.

For better or worse, my hometown only receives the debris of the region’s sizable crime wave. Comprising endless accounts of gang violence and gun crimes, it’s a nationwide epidemic that can only be remedied once we all begin cooperating on social and political levels.

About 30,000 street, motorcycle and prison gangs operate in our country at this very moment, according to the FBI. What these statistics don’t state, however, is the number of criminals born in lower class areas. Starting in the late ‘70s, when New York and Los Angeles gangs spread throughout the country, impoverished slums became hotspots for crack cocaine and other drugs.

The price of coke cheapened nearly 80 percent by the mid ‘80s, making it easy for the poor to profit. It appealed to them to live dangerously rather than listening to educators who seemed to care less for students of low-income households.

In fact, it’s an alarming system of institutionalization that few people recognize. It’s why 94 percent of U.S. gangs are male, 47 percent of that are Hispanic, and a remaining 31 percent are Black. If someone is birthed into a socio-economic life bound by welfare checks and fast food, it staves off existing potential when their only escape is a TV portraying American beauty as white, rich and hetero-normative.

These dilemmas are why movements like Black Lives Matter are necessary. Unfortunately, the disconnect between activism and the rest of the stratosphere is due to ignorant extremism on both sides.

For instance, young adults often get their news from social networks; all of which have users eager to voice their opinions on Twitter with trigger fingers. While the hearts of activists are generally in the right place, informal news often leads into insubstantial debates without resolve.

It’s important now, more than ever, to sweep pre-existing baggage under the rug. With the changing political climate that lies ahead, we should focus on creating strong schools and workplaces to ensure that subsequent generations can be upstanding without resorting to arms.

Gun legislation and activism aren’t the issues – it’s the politicians’ lack of regard for lowly living.

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