NICE NEIGHBORHOODS, AND BAD NEIGHBORHOODS

Over at Rachel’s Tavern (http://www.rachelstavern.com ), I responded to a comment someone said about “nice” neighborhoods. I gave my point of view, and was attacked for telling the truth about so-called “nice” neighborhoods, and so-called “bad” neighborhoods which are disparaged as if the people who live there are non-human inhabitants. The topic of discussion,  “Untitled Virgina Tech Post”, concerned how this crime occured in an upper-income part of town where the university is located.

The link of the discussion is found here:

http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=508

The following is my response:

PART ONE:

On the issue of “bad’ neighborhoods and “nice”neighborhoods.

Since my comments were entirely taken out of context I will speak again on the effect this young man’s actions have left in his wake. I am aware of the history of gun violence in America. It is a very long and painful history. And I am aware that what this young man did is not something that happens once in a while, nor that what he did exists in some vacuum.

People who live in so-called bad neighborhoods/high crime/low-income areas, live in what I consider war-zones. That no state militia troops are called out to police these neighborhoods does not make them any less safe, nor in any way to be written off by the rest of society. There are people who live outside of high-crime areas who do not give much concern to the lives of the many people who live there. People who have to combat crime as best they can, often not with much help from the city. Yes, there is the beefing up of police sent into the neighborhood to control crime, especially in the so-called war on drugs, but, sometimes this show of force to curtail crime can lead to near deadly consequences, if the police go to the wrong house and confront the occupants, especially if the information obtained is not correct. This can occur when some drug busts are done.

People who live in so-called bad neighborhoods survive many types of crime that people who live in so-called nice neighborhoods do not have to contend with on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis:

-Drugs
-Prostitution
-Rape
-Murder

People who live in high-crime areas do organize and fight the crime in their neighborhoods, but, where the news sources are mostly concerned, these people are rarely, if ever, mentioned at all on the nightly news. But, let some crime occur (especially if it is drug-related), then you can rest assure that the TV news will broadcast it to the high heavens. And there is another aspect of so-called crime reporting as done by the media. In some cases the TV news stations have done special reports on which are the most crime-ridden neighborhoods (i.e., the “worst crime part of town”). Certain parts of town are highlighted as if they are some bombed-out no-man’s land where the people who live there are less than human. Nevermind that their part of town has been branded as a place where nothing of decency happens. As if everyone who lives in that neighborhood is some savage criminal with no regard for human life.

The people who live in high-crime areas suffer, and survive many “Virginia Techs” on a daily basis. They have to contend with the possiblity of losing a son or daughter to murder, rape or getting caught in a drug-pusher war because that child got too close to some drug seller’s turf. The numbers of people who have lost their lives from crime in high-crime areas would boggle the mind. But, many people could care less. Afterall, people who live in poor areas are mostly black, latino and poor white, and so long as the crime is kept contained in that particular area, as long as the denizens of that area take out their rage on each other, as long as they do not cross over into upper-middle/high-income areas, as long as they do not pick up a gun and go into a store, a school campus and kill a large group of people, not many people care, nor want to see what happens in poor areas for what it is—-a massive loss of life that takes its toll on so many people who have to live in those areas if only because they cannot leave those areas, but, instead do what they can to make life as safe as they can for their families.

Yes, crime does indeed occur in poorer areas. And some people do give a wide berth to these areas.

Crime occurs in upper-income areas.

But, people who live in high-crime areas face catching a bullet just while waking up, or stepping out of their home. They face a bullet when shots are fired because someone said the wrong thing to someone, and many times, an innocent person gets caught in the crossfire, and pays for someone’s moment of rage.

“VT’s” happen every so often for the many people who live in high-crime areas. They just don’t happen on a massive scale as what happened at VT. Just because it is not a man or woman who pulled out a gun and kills 15,- 20-, or 30+ people does not make what poor people experience any less.

But, when a VT happens in a “nice” area, then everyone throws up their hands and laments over “What could have caused this to happen? What led to this? Why do these events (Virginia Tech, Columbine, etc.) occur?”

This country is a violence-filled, violence-loving, solve-as-many-of-your-problems-with-violence-culture America. That such incidents, that such “massacres” happen should not surprise people.

Incidents like this have happened before:

-Wounded Knee
-Wilmington, N.C.
-Rosewood, FLA.
-Greenwood (Tulsa), OK.
-University of Texas (Whitman shooting spree)

And they will continue to happen. America’s history of “massacres” is as old as this country’s existence. Whether it is one person, ten people, or one hundred people picking up the gun(s), America’s culture of violence is endemic. As a nation we’ve been in this situation before, again, and again. At the bottom of every report and every debate is the desire for everyone to be safe all the time. Is that possible? And what are we willing to give up in order to make that possible?

On some news reports there is talk of giving gun permits for students and faculty on college campuses to enable them to carry handguns. Nothing but terrible consequences can come of that. And even if a student is armed, and sees a crime going down, and she or he opens fire, they may be able to take the bad person out, but, in the process, they may also unintentionally kill an innocent bystander. No. Giving guns to the students and faculty only opens up a new and more terrfiying Pandora’s Box. And if these students and faculty are given guns, who is to assess who should or should not have a gun? How will the colleges decide on what student or faculty member should have a gun?

How safe can someone be on a high school, college campus, job? Just this past Saturday, an employee took a hostage at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Tx. After a long stand-off with SWAT, two shots were fired during the time the police were waiting the situation out. It turned out that the gunman had shot a boss, then turned the gun on himself.

So what are people to do? Lock up in your home, never to come out? Send your children to school in flak jackets? Put metal detectors up on every jobsite? Cordone off and install metal detectors on EACH AND EVERY BUILDING on college and university campuses? Do strip/body-scanning searches of each and every person entering onto college campuses?

Of course it would be impossible to draw a huge safety net around an entire college campus. And no parent wants to have a phone call in the night, or in the early hours of the morning, telling them of a daughter or son they have lost to violence.

We all walk with death as we go about our daily lives. Every day is a day where we are all just a hair-breadth brush away from death; just a minute, an hour, where death can take us at any time.

And that’s just from going about our daily lives.

Getting up, going to work, going to school, going about our “normal” routine.

That’s what those students and their teachers were doing.

Now they are no longer among the living, and their parents and love ones grieve for them.

The nation grieves and mourns with them.

Young people who will never be able to live their lives of promise. Teachers who will never be able to impart their wisdom and knowledge to another generation.

But, as one student was asked on a news program this morning, “Are you going to school tomorrow? [Monday, April 23, 2007, VT re-opens for classes.], the young man answered, “Yes, I will be there.”

He and many others will be there: students presently attending classes; faculty; students who had signed up to attend VT before the taking of lives occured; parents will be there to bravely , and prayerfully, put their children into the hands of the schools administrators.

They will go on. Because that’s what life is all about. Going on. Suffering a terrible tragedy. Picking yourself up takes strength and the will to live and go on.

No matter how hard and painful the loss may be.

Getting through this. Living through this.

Prevailing.

On the subject of mental health.

This young man was crying out for help.

He fell through the cracks.

That he saw in some way that he was suffering from demons that were tearing him apart, caused him to seek out mental health treatment. But, in the end the internal torment overwhelmed and conquered him.

And now we have lost 33 lives out of the world.

Yes, I’m even going to include the young man who took their lives.

And that this young man was not able to get more treatment for his mental health is a tragedy.

And he is not the only person going through this.

All across the country, many people who are in serious need of mental help, are being turned out on the streets, with just a few pills and a subscription to tide them over. People who still are in need of help. People still suffering from their illnesses.

And to add more fuel to the fire, many mental health organizations are in threat of having to shut down.

One such place is here in the city where I live. This mental health center is being threatened with shutdown by the city. People who work there, and relatives of the patients, took to the streets to protests the closure. They know that if this much needed place is shutdown, there will be one less place, one less haven for the mentally ill to find help and treatment.

The domino efftect of shafting the mentally ill who are in need of help is starting to come back and bite America in the face. And this will continue. Mental health issues are more than serious. They are nothing to play with. The danger to the persons suffering, and those who may be harmed by them, can, and does, cost lives.

Mental health illness is not something to be taken lightly nor brushed off as inconsequential. It harms just as much as physical pain, and when the mental pain does become unbearable, then we have situations like this happen.

On a final note.

A word to Koreans and Korean-Americans.

I have noticed on a few blogs, and on one nightly news report, that some Koreans, and some Korean-Americans are expressing regret over what this young man did, asking for forgiveness for this young man’s actions, asking the world not to let what this young man did reflect on all Koreans, as if they, Koreans, are to blame for what he did.

This I have to say to you:

Don’t.

Please, don’t do that to yourselves.

You are not to blame for what this young man did.

What Cho Seung-Hui did are his actions, and his actions alone.

So, please do not feel as if you have to take on the whole weight of what Cho did.

We all have enough crosses to bear in this world.

We are all praying for the comfort of those of Virginia Tech who lost loved ones in this tragedy.

And we have all suffered a loss.

Virginia Tech.

The family of Cho.

All of America.

PART TWO:

April 25, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

ExpatJane.

“What you did however was take my comment on face value only. You burdened it with your bias and took it as an invite to discuss a point that I wasn’t making rather than maybe asking what I meant. Therefore, you implicated me and assumed that I didn’t have the good sense to know that crime happens everywhere.”

Biases.

Yes, we all have them.

You brought yours to this topic, I brought mine to it as well.

And it was not my intent to implicate you as assuming that you did not know that crime happens everywhere. And I should have asked you to clarify your comments on what you stated. Crime as I stated in my last post does happen everywhere. Poorer neighborhoods, unlike upper income neighborhoods, are unable to hide their crime as well as high-income neighborhoods can.

Prostitution in poor neighborhoods is more blatant, and often out in the open.

In more upscale neighborhoods, be it in the home (some women in the suburbs have operated prostitution rings out of their homes), tony hotels, or so-called “escort services”, the crime of prostitution can be hidden more than it would be in a poorer neighborhood. That is what I meant by poorer neighborhoods receiving more scrutiny than richer/nicer neighborhoods.

On the issue of drugs, whether it be crack or cocaine, drug sales of dope are the same way. There would be more of street corner drug-selling in the poor area, with the buyers of drugs who live in well-to-do neighborhoods going to the poor area to buy drugs, as one example.

Rich people/nice neighborhoods are often more able to conceal their crime much more than poor people/bad neighborhoods can. Also, police drug sweeps, and other crime control sweeps, do concentrate more on poor areas, than they do rich areas of town.

“You’re preaching to the choir here. What’s funny is you just assumed you needed to inform me of something I already know and, maybe more importantly, lived.”

Not necessarily.

You and I are not the only ones reading this blog. In addition to the regular posters who come here, there are also readers of this blog who “lurk”, and they do not always post comments on every topic put up for discussion. They may read what I state, they may agree with me, they may not. What I write is meant for community discussion, and I know that I take my chances with what I put out for discussion. It comes with the territory when posting on a blog. And, I have stepped on toes in my posts. It does happen. That is to be expected.

Once again, it was not my intent to preach to you. But, there are other people who do read what is posted on this blog. Someone will read what I write, and may see that I am stating something they’ve always believed; someone may not, and in the process may disagree with me.

That’s a part of being on the internet. You will not convert everyone, but, in the process, you will not drive everyone away, either.

So, neither one of us should always think that we are preaching to the choir.

You never know who is reading what we state. You never know who may come away from what is discussed with a different outlook.

“My point was that in the neighborhood where I grew up the type of crime I’m watching for does differ from the type of crime I’m watching for on the nice side of town. The point I was making was that at my alma mater on the other side of town, while I am worried that a rapist will jump out at me from a corner, in the neighborhood where I grew up I’m worried about the guy who is standing on the corner dealing drugs because he might get shot or start shooting.
The folks on my alma mater’s side of town aren’t worried about white on white crime. They’re not worried that they might walk into a convenience store at the wrong time and be victim of a robbery gone wrong. In fact, the last time I went home, I stopped by a convenience store and saw this poor woman doing business behind a bullet proof barrier. I decided to speak to her in her native language just to set her at ease a bit. . I’ve never seen that on the nice side of town.”

Most definately crime in richer areas is quite different from crime in poorer areas. Crime in poorer areas is more devastating, more likely to cause loss of life. And it was not my intention to “lecture” or school you on the facts of how horrible crime can take a toll on the people who face it on a daily basis. My apology for giving you that impression. Some people’s perception of crime is that it can only happen in poor areas, and never happen in rich areas. Economic disparity is a very major cause of most crime, especially in poor areas. The consequences of crossing paths with someone with criminal intent on their minds escalates in poorer neighborhoods.

And some of us are able to escape its deadly clutches; some of us are not.

And I would agree with you that the people on your alma mater’s side of town will not be worried about white-on-white crime that takes lives. Lack of decent education, poor job skills, little to no job opportunities do lend towards more black-on-black crime. Those who are the closest to dangerous conditions in poor neighborhoods, suffer the most from crime than those who do not live in life-and-death conditions. There is much that is not seen on the “nice side of town”. Much that is seen on the “bad side of town”, that I would say, would blow most people’s minds.

A lot.

And some of us are able to escape its deadly clutches; some of us are not.

I have had crime and death come into my family, just like many people who live in high-crime areas. The loss of a young nephew who was shot to death by two men who carjacked him. A cousin who was murdered. So, I do know what it is like to have death come to my door. As well as many people who live in high-crime areas have experienced.

“I grew up in the type of neighborhood you’re so vigorously attempting to defend.”

Yes, I defended the people who live there who do live crime-free lives as best they can. Just as there are people who live in high-crime areas who have no regard for human life can certainly exist , so too, can people who do care about the neighborhood they live in, and strive to keep their families intact, exist as well.

I guess maybe I should not be defending the people of these areas so much, having lost relatives to crime.

But, having lived in such an environment, I do know that not everyone who lives there is about doing wrong, nor harming the lives of those around them

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