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Harper High School isn't alone: Youth Killings Out of Control

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This American Life is my favorite "radio" program.  Over the years I've found every program extremely engaging, some fascinating.  I listen via podcast usually at the Gym or during long drives -- interestingly never at home.   

 

The episode almost brought me to tears (seriously).  I think because I remember, as kids, we had to deal with gangs and being afraid of being robbed or beat up.  It has an effect on you -- though I never spoke to any one about it then, or ever, for that matter.  No one could really help you, not your parents, not the teachers, definitely not the police.  You had to rely on yourself or you friends (friends usually meaning a gang).

 

This thing about these stories is that these kids face a very real threat of being killed!  I never faced that.  The risk of getting beat up is one thing, but being killed is a horse of a different color. 

 

I have no idea what that level of stress or fear does to one's brain as it is still under development during the teen years, or what the lasting psychological effects are.  I do know that it is a self-perpetuating problem.

 

Host Ira Glass introduces the show:

 

"Today on our radio program, we spend a second hour at Harper High School on Chicago's South Side. We sent three reporters there for five months, starting at the beginning of this school year, because of all the shootings they've had. We have all heard a lot about gun violence and kids in the last few months. Here at our radio program, we wanted to understand what the staff and families at Harper know about this violence that most of us around the country do not know."

 

If you don't listen to the entire broadcast check out the final segment it is only 3 minutes "Harper High School isn't alone".

 

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Memorial at Harper High School for Shakaki Asphy, a student killed by gunfire last Summer. Photo by Bill Healy. - See more

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Boys fight as a rites of passage.
This has been going on for thousands of years even before America even existed.

It's done naturally to establish a sense of hierarchy among males so you know where you stand when you get older.


In other words.......
If you can't fight worth a damn, it's best to find out when you're 8 and there's less of a chance of serious damage....than to find out when you're 20 and end up getting that ass "toe" up.....lol.


It's the same with "bullying" to a CERTAIN extent (although some bullying is downright torture and shouldn't be tolerated).
If something is "wrong" with you, you often learn at an early age from other children who don't know any better than to tell you so you can either correct the problem or learn to deal with it as you get older.



MOST boys fight as a rites of passage if their testosterone levels are normal and they have been "sissified".
Aggressiveness has been encouraged among young men through out time which is why they have militaries.

The problem today is that many of the urban areas of America are now flooded with guns and not enough fathers and responsible men to CONTROL this natural aggression and rites of passage and so it has gotten out of control.

Telling boys not to be aggressive or fight is not a viable answer because it's in their natures to be aggressive.
A more appropriate and effective solution would be to limit the availability of guns and have more police officers in the neighborhoods and more security in the schools.

And ofcourse bring back CORPORAL PUNISHMENT.


Time out and this other psychological garbage they're trying may work on sissified rosy cheeked boys from sheltered backgrounds who've never been in so much as a fist fight.....lol.
But if you try it as a form of punishment on hardcore urban teens who fight eachother just for fun, it's a dangerous joke.


And I say dangerous because when you depend on weak and ineffective "solutions" to control a violence problem you are actually putting other people's lives and safety in jeopardy.



 

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I say and I say again, that all problems don't have solutions. There is no way to prevent or stop this epidemic of kids killing kids. Some times the only way for change to come is that things get so bad, all that's left is for them to get better. In the process of cycles coming and going, problems have a way of solving themselves. And, if this rotation takes too long, there's always a chance that an asteroid will hit Earth and our worries will all be over.

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Cynique

 

I say and I say again, that all problems don't have solutions. There is no way to prevent or stop this epidemic of kids killing kids. Some times the only way for change to come is that things get so bad, all that's left is for them to get better. In the process of cycles coming and going, problems have a way of solving themselves. And, if this rotation takes too long, there's always a chance that an asteroid will hit Earth and our worries will all be over.

 

Wow.

Now that's a pretty morbid view of things.....lol...even from a self titled "cynique".

Come on now, we know that EVERY problem has atleast one solution.

Just because we may not know what that solution is, doesn't mean there isn't one.

The very fact that something is a "problem" means it's out of order and needs to be placed back into it's proper place.

 

 

 

The issue isn't coming up with solutions.......

Actually we already know most of the solutions needed to solve the problems plaguing many of the urban areas of America. I've listed several of them in this thread alone and many more all through out this site, other sites, and my site.

The problem is having the desire and courage to IMPLIMENT them.

Problem:

Gangs are out on the avenues harassing people and fighting eachother.

Solution:

Put more police on the street to monitor and arrest them.

Now that's a solution.

You can argue with that idea and bring up issues of having to pay for extra police and are they profiling young people. but the fact is it DOES WORK and it's a solution.

Problem:

People getting more obese and diabetic in America

Solution:

Eliminate high fructose corn syrup and other toxic chemicals from the foods and ban them in the U.S. like they do in Canada and Europe and you'll see obesity and diabetes rates plummet.

That's a solution...it will work.

You can argue about infringing on people's rights to eat what they want or the rights of manufacturers to use the products they wish, but the fact is removing these toxic additives and preservatives from the diet does work.

Most of the problems this world faces is either directly or indirectly related to immorality whether it's murder/war, disease, hunger, political terror, ect.......

There is enough technology and ability to solve over 90% of the problems this planet faces; the problem is most people don't have the desire to do that which will benefit anyone else outside of themselves and their immediate family.

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"Implement" is the operative word here.  You are great at offering simple solutions to complex problems, Pioneer.  But when dealing with humans, their behavior is unpredictable because of the X factor and external conditions that are in a state of flux.  So while the solution to a problem may look good on paper and sound good in theory,  the chances of said problem  being solved are  elusive because the problem, itself, is fraught with variables and is not always accurately stated. In the fiinal outcome those offering solutions become a part of the problem.   

 

Putting more police on the street to combat drive-by violence has been a suggestion that has been around for years..  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to come up with this idea. But it hasn't really worked.  It may scatter the problem but it doesn't eliminate it.  The only people who can stop gang activity are the gangs themselves and only time will bring about a change in their mind sets. Chicago is currently in an uproar because the board of education thinks the solution to bad schoosl is to close underperforming ones and use the money saved to raise the standards of the remaining schools that will serve broader districts. But the teachers union and irate parents have compounded the problem and complicated the solution. 

 

The wars in Irag and Afghanistan were supposed to solve the problems in the middle east.  But both of these solutions were utter failures.   

 

The civil rights movement was supposed to eliminate racism but all it did was to set the stage for racism to morph into a more subtle manifestation.

 

The internet was hailed as a communication panacea but the solutions it utilized facilitated new problems

 

I agree that probelms are more manageable on a one-on-one basis but the world at large is just one big hot bed of problems, none of which are being solved because problems beget problems and the result is managed chaos. 

 

 I concede that my age is a factor in my cynical  outlook because for one reason, from my perspective, everything new is old. Been there, done that.Things come and go but like ol Will Shakespeare says:"the best laid plans of mice and men oft times go awry."

 

 

 

I was once young and optimistic but I am now old and realistic,  a spectator watching others chase Utopian illusions. 

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Pioneer, I agree with Cynique in that a solution only makes sense if it is viable, otherwise it is just fantasy.

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Cynique

A simple solution is better than no solution at all.
Perhaps once you get the ball rolling the other components will fall into place through Divine providence.

The teachers union and irate parents haven't compounded the problem.....they aren't helping much but they aren't compounding it. Plans to provide an inferior education to Black and Brown children in the ghetto were already laid out years before now and the teachers and parents are just having an emotional reaction to a problem they FEEL helpless to solve.

The wars in Iraq and Afganistan are doing what they were designed to do and things are going as planned.
The public was just lied to about the REAL reasons for going to war in the first place.

I'm not trying to be funny but if you're really as old as you say you are you seem to not only be pretty coherent but technologically up-to-date.......lol.  There are people in there 50s and 60s who scratch their heads trying to figure out how to even use a computer and call it a "machine".

One of these days I'd like to ask you questions about how really America used to be and the social and moral differences in Black culture and morality today as opposed to when you were a kid.

 

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Not to change the topic of the thread but I have to say.........
I notice that women despite thier age seem to be more eager to "keep up" or learn new things.


I had a job where I worked around a lot of foreign nationals and the thing I noticed was that women and children seemed to learn English and American customs more so than adult men.
Once the typical man got past 25 or 30 he often didn't care to know English outside of what he needed to know to make money (like a job), but the women were filling out applications, keeping the money, and answering the questions, lol.
They all had that big heavy-ass purse they sit on their laps to pull out documents and money while their husbands or brothers just sat next to them with their hands in their pockets looking silly.....lol.


I notice that in many other jobs to.
Women tend to learn computers and other non-physically demanding things faster.

My theory is most women don't seem to have the pride/ego that many men have so they are more open to learning new things and conforming without being embarrassed.
 

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Cynique

I'm not trying to be funny but if you're really as old as you say you are you seem to not only be pretty coherent but technologically up-to-date.......lol.  There are people in there 50s and 60s who scratch their heads trying to figure out how to even use a computer and call it a "machine".

One of these days I'd like to ask you questions about how really America used to be and the social and moral differences in Black culture and morality today as opposed to when you were a kid.

 

I'm a little surprised, myself, Pioneer, that I have achieved a degree of computer literacy because I've never been good at technical things,  but after I  took the buy out offered by the Post Office in 1992, I was stuck at home with nothing to do so my husband bought a computer in hope that I might find somethng interesting to do with it.  Which I did. I just kept playing around with it and with help from my grandaughter and by trial and error, at my own pace, I finally taught myself how to use a computer, a word processsor and to surf the internet. 

 

I'll always be grateful to my husband for providing me with a companion to fill the void that would occur when he died.  My computer along with cable TV and various forms of reading matter, are what continue to make my life interesting.  Because I am no longer very mobile, these devices are my windows to the world, and contribute to my well being and contentment along with the children who keep me grounded and the grandchildren who keep me current.  It's my memory that gets me in trouble because it is what drives me to compare things to the way they used to be and this, in turn, makes me cynical.   

 

You asked how the world was when I was young.  I think the thing that dismays me most about the present is how morals and scruples and literacy have deteriorated so badly. Of course the argument can be made that this has always been the case, it's just more in the open now. 

 

All I can say is back in the day in the 1950s and early 60s, women didn't flaunt their pregnacies if they weren't married, didn't strut around wearing tight outfits to show off their baby bump.  Elected officials didn't flagrantly violate the trust of taxpayers by embezzing public funds  to finance the elaborate lifestyles which include sexual escapades with other women.   Schools somehow manage to teach all but the most dense of kids how to read. Drug use wasn't rampant, adolescent girls weren't aggressive sexpots.

 

Me and my contemporaries somehow managed to exist in this environment without being prudish or repressed.  We were just more discreet, more considerate, and had a better set of values.  We knew how to have fun.  We danced and sang and partied and drank.  The lyrics to our songs were clean and romantic, our dances were  cool, not vulger, and nobody broke up parties with gun fire. 

 

When I was much younger, in the 1930s and 40s in the little town that I lived in, in the black community the village did indeed, raise the child.  Elders were respected, we left our doors unlocked, had no fear walking the streets at night and trusted those in authority.

 

But it wasn't all idyllic.  Racism was there in different degrees, depending on what part of the country you lived  in.  Poverty was always a factor.   But It was just a simpler more wholesome time.

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Cynique

 

Well I don't mind pregnant women showing as much skin as they like, as long as the skin is healthy.
I always had a thing for pregnant women.
It wasn't until I started surfing the internet that I found out it was an actual fetish that other men enjoyed, lol.

But anyway..............


When I was a kid I used to hear older people complaining about Rap music and other music of my generation and I thought they were just being grumpy and unreasonable.
But when I listen to the music of so much of the youth today and how music and espcially Rap has deteriorated not only morally but in terms of plain quality I can BEAR WITNESS to the degredation of Black music.

Even the way young people dress today has deteriorated from being stylish and well put together to just wearing long white t-shirts and baggy pants looking like you just woke up and decided to step outside.
 

 


But you know as sad as the situations seems to be for the youth of America, actually there seems to be a grand sepration taking place.....


It seems that the conditions have been getting so bad in the AfroAmerican community and in America in general that many young people have learned from the destructive ways of their parents and seem to be trying to get things back on track and make it right from the next generation!
For example...........

I know a lot of young men who having grown up in homes where the father left and abandoned the family  are now themselves married at an early age, taking care of thier children, and vowing never to abandon their families the way thier fathers did.

I see a lot of young sistaz jogging up and down my street who said watching the older women in their family die of obesity and heart disease made them vow to eat right and exercise to keep that from happening to them.

I've even theorized that the large amount of feminine acting young men is somehow as a direct result of the overwhelming violence so many of them saw growing up and their strange way of avoiding it.
Well, if it takes a young man acting gay in order to keep him safe and alive...........((shrugs shoulders))

Like you said, sometimes things have to get so bad and hit rock bottom that the only thing to do is get better.

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CYNIQUE SAID: You asked how the world was when I was young.  I think the thing that dismays me most about the present is how morals and scruples and literacy have deteriorated so badly. Of course the argument can be made that this has always been the case, it's just more in the open now. 

 

All I can say is back in the day in the 1950s and early 60s, women didn't flaunt their pregnacies if they weren't married, didn't strut around wearing tight outfits to show off their baby bump.  Elected officials didn't flagrantly violate the trust of taxpayers by embezzing public funds  to finance the elaborate lifestyles which include sexual escapades with other women.   Schools somehow manage to teach all but the most dense of kids how to read. Drug use wasn't rampant, adolescent girls weren't aggressive sexpots.

 

Me and my contemporaries somehow managed to exist in this environment without being prudish or repressed.  We were just more discreet, more considerate, and had a better set of values.  We knew how to have fun.  We danced and sang and partied and drank.  The lyrics to our songs were clean and romantic, our dances were  cool, not vulger, and nobody broke up parties with gun fire. 

 

When I was much younger, in the 1930s and 40s in the little town that I lived in, in the black community the village did indeed, raise the child.  Elders were respected, we left our doors unlocked, had no fear walking the streets at night and trusted those in authority.

 

But it wasn't all idyllic.  Racism was there in different degrees, depending on what part of the country you lived  in.  Poverty was always a factor.   But It was just a simpler more wholesome time.

-------------------------------

Hiya, Cynique.

 

Do you think that black people were more self-reliant and community-oriented when society was formally segregated? 

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Waterstar I'm sure Cynique will have a insightful answer, based upon first had experience, but we HAD to be "more self-reliant and community-oriented when society was formally segregated".  We had not choice.

 

If was a time when we have birth to the great HBCU's founded thriving albeit segregated communities with professionals, and blacked owned business of every type.

I think the American culture, in general, is less reliant on each other, more reliant on the government (which is not the same thing).  There was another, more recent story on this American Life that spoke about some white communities were 25% of the population was subsisting on disability check from the government...

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Hey Waterstar. Good to have your input on these timely subjects. We need some fresh ideas.
 
Although I spout off a lot, I am not an Oracle. Opinions just come to me, probably because they have been formed during the course of my observations over the years and been stored in my subconscious mind.  But to some questions my answer would simply be: "I don't know".
 
I've heard that in the north during the early 1900s there were self-sufficient black communities where enterprising black merchants and professionals plied their trades and thrived because they were patronized by their fellow black citizens.
 
This was not the case in the small suburb of Chicago where I grew up during the 1930s through the 1950s. My hometown was  actually more interracial than integrated, but we peacefully co-existed because we Blacks were comfortable in our skin and had our own social life and community pride and, because there was no Jim Crow restrictions,  we were not denied our basic civil rights. It was all about maintaining the status quo and not rockin the boat, all of which provided no incentive to become entrepreneurs.  The black populace there was strictly blue collar with the only black-owned businesses being limited to beauty parlors, barber shops, and restaurants.  Later, record stores, real estate offices and cleaners sprung up.  Handymen were the closest people we had to professionals. I never attended a school where my teachers were black and I never had a black family doctor. If I'd had a need for a black lawyer, I'd have had to go search for one. Of course ministers and preachers were well represented.
 
The conclusions I have reached at this point in my life is that integration is not all it's cracked up to be but that diversity is a good thing
 
Whether segregated or integrated, I don't believe that Black America will ever accumulate enough power to  become commerically independent corporate giants or ever return to the days when they had the potential to do this. Even small businesses have a bad track record. I'm afraid we will always be in the thrall of the consumerism which is tainted with racism.
 
Well, you had to ask, didn't you?  Not to worry. Pioneer will surface to dispute this pessimistic point of view, and dispel my ongoing cynicism. 

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For years I've heard from many older Black people that integration destroyed the Black community.
In the books I've read by Elijah Muhammad, he criticized integration as a trick to destroy Black people.

When I was younger I would hear and read this and wondered what they were talking about.  Now that I'm older and can COMPARE the Black community of today with the Black community of my childhood, I too can see CLEAR differences that I believe resulted from picking up a lot of the negative habits from the larger society.

Sexual perversions, broken families,  disrespecting, cussing out, and even killing parents, drinking too much alcohol, even smoking so many cigarettes......in my opinion are bad habits that many AfroAmericans learn from either hanging out with White people or watching them on television/movies and trying to imitate them.

When most of our people were living in rural communities down South they were more religious, more family oriented. We were fishing, farming, and building our own houses, coming to eachother's assistance ect..

When they  moved up North to the city and started getting lazier and lazier relying on White people for keeping food in the supermarkets, maintaining thier housing, making their clothes......
I remember my mother had a sewing maching she loved to use at night!
Now most Black people can't even sew, let alone make new clothes; they just run to the mall and spend money on more instead.

Most Black boys can't even swim today.
Something older Black men in generations past couldn't believe.

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