Working in an inner-city can cause one to become immune to what happens . Sirens, screeching tires, the excitement of routine events. Yet sometimes it comes home in real terms just how some people daily live on the edge. I interact with many inner-city youths daily. I enjoy talking to them, I sometimes give advice, they always seem receptive to what I have to say. In fact I am amazed at the calmness and receptive nature of these young men. I have never had an uncomfortable experience relating life experiences to them. Many of them have never had a father/or father figure in their lives. One young man confided in me that no one ever told him they loved him in his entire life.
Walk-way over the Hudson River.
Rashan is one of these young men I met while he was in High School, I was surprised 4 years ago when he stopped by to see me, he was pushing a stroller. He smiling said “hey Mike I just wanted to show you my little man”. I thought he was taking his little brother for a walk. I asked him if that was his baby brother? He laughed at me as he informed me the baby was his son! I was a little shocked. He was still a student at the Poughkeepsie High School, he needed a father I thought. He was certainly not equipped to be a father. I kept those sentiments to myself. At the same time I was kinda proud of him . Watching him lovingly tending to the little bundle of joy he calls his little man in the stroller erased all the apprehension I felt about him being a father at such a young age. There is something mature in a man who takes care of his kids, age is immaterial I convinced myself at that moment.
My city ,population 32’790 is no stranger to homicide. The problem of black men killing black men is as serious as it is anywhere else in America. The issues of poverty, broken homes, drugs, and other social ills perpetuates that cycle of hostility and violence in Poughkeepsie as it does in other metropolises. I had not seen Rashan for awhile until today Saturday September 14th, he stopped by to see me. He seemed more serious , a little angry. I asked him was he ok? He told me “Mike you did not see me because I was shot three times, and all I was doing was walking a girl to her house.”
I realized just how close this young man had come to dying. I also reminded myself that the reason he was shot was probably a little more complex than the petty reason he gave. He also told me who shot him. They lived side by side, such is the value of life in the inner cities. Silly arguments and beefs are settled with Bullets. One young man said today , it’s like someone dumped a whole load of guns in Poughkeepsie, every kid has one. Just a few nights ago the Cops arrested a 16 year old, they saw something in one of the pockets of his baggy pants. They asked him what was in his pocket, he told them it was his cell phone , it was called a 45 special, (smart ass).One cop was about to let him go , the other was not so gullible , he tackled him, took him to the ground, lo and behold what he had in his pocket was a weapon loaded with hollow point bullets.
- Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, according to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
- Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign reports.
- Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from guns — more than the population of St. Louis, Mo. (318,069), Pittsburgh (307,484), Cincinnati, Ohio (296,223), Newark, N.J. (277,540), and Orlando, Fla. (243,195) (sources: CDF, U.S. Census; CDC)
- One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. (source: CDC).
- This is an epidemic of monumental proportions. I have a bullet in me, a victim of random violence , just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This profit oriented proliferation of guns has continued unabated, even as America’s schools , homes, parks, and streets have become killing fields and shooting galleries.
- The Congress is too cowardly to act, despite the blood-letting. The power of money is too strong a force to resist. They hide behind the second Amendment to the Constitution, deeming it sacrosanct as they lie to themselves that guns don’t kill, people do.
- Where will this all end.