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Keeping It Real: What Propels Violence in the Community

Op/Ed By Wallace Mabry


Wallace Mabry

Wallace Mabry

Violence is an intriguing phenomenon. It is highlighted in every news reel and newscast for its audaciousness of spirit, its heightened physicality, and for its excess of redress for the most harrowing of enterprises, happenstance of circumstances, and inappropriate expressions of disagreement.

Violence, however, no matter the outcries it evokes from all segments of the American society, is an American pastime. It is touted nationally, dressed conspicuously, and taught early to our young, via little league football, boxing, martial arts, hockey, and yes, private, military academies. Athletics and military preparatory schools in which all the elements of violence and skill sets are practiced, and displayed, for our parental enjoyment, our pride, and our children’s right to use those skills in profitable endeavors throughout their lifetimes.

There is also the violence of the founding fathers of America, who coveted the land, which was in the physical possession of the indigenous American Indians, and who, through their wanton desires to expand the territory, and lay claim to all the resources available, killed and grouped the surviving, surrendered Indians on reservations.

The old wealthy class of America was built on the violence of slavery, robberies, and murders. We recognize them, and their heirs today, as some of our greatest American citizens, and philanthropists. In the last century, individuals and families have accumulated billions of dollars raising their stock and financial growth to become what some may consider the nouveau riche. But, their financial growth has not come without the brutal and consequential violent exchanges wrought between owners of products and buyers.

Led by sophisticated marketing specialists who create the need for these products, coupled with the constant parade of new products, many of which are priced out of the buying range of the poor, they have resulted in a virtual riotous surge to procure these products by any means at hand, when the meager earnings of low paying jobs cannot afford them.  Jails and prison populations will confirm the nature of that violence.

However, perhaps the best examples of organized violence, yet, are U.S. government-approved wars that kill more innocent women and children through the bombing and destruction of water supplies, food-producing land, and medical facilities, than they kill actual combatants in ground-troop warfare.

Still, let us not become so caught up in the physical aspects of violence that we lose sight of the more subtle, and just as traumatic side of violence. Violence is experienced when a car that can be completely built every 42 seconds, by a team of workers and robotic machinery completing the build, and yet not one of the individuals of that team makes enough in weekly wages to buy the car outright. To be confronted by that reality may constitute a hurtful situation.

Violence is living in America, the land of the plenty, without the wherewithal, to keep the home supplied with the family’s basic needs. Violence is coming to the realization that, when jobs are made available, there are not enough to go around, and, when wages increase for those employed, so do the costs of basic necessities like food, clothing, housing, heating, gas and electric, transportation, and gasoline, ad nauseam.

What has provoked that line of thought, in particular, is a remark made by City Councilman Adam McFadden, a black man, during a Feb. 26 meeting with other city officials at School 17 on the subject of school violence, reported in the Minority Reporter ( March 7, 2016).

Councilman McFadden said, in respect to school violence, “We’re talking about generational (family centered) violence. This isn’t new. These (black) kids are learning this in their homes, or learning it in their (black) neighborhoods. So we (emphasis added) have to draw a line about what we (emphasis added) will tolerate.”

Councilman McFadden’s drawn line may well be a siren’s call to the black community.

Councilman McFadden, who represents himself as the champion of the black community, takes a stoic stance before first having defined and determined the underlying causes of violence in the schools, the black community, and the society in general, as a first step, and then moving toward a more appropriate means of addressing the problem before he draws his line in the sand.

What, exactly, is propelling these young people to violent acts? Cause in every circumstance may well be difficult to ascertain, and to pinpoint. Could it have been a harsh word passed, that simmered and found its vent in an outburst of gunshots or the thrust of a knife? Could it have been a condition that was long endured, and finally came to the point where further endurance was ruled out?

Could it have been a sudden realization that what was promised did not materialize, and what was gained was nothing but a continuing prolific politic, from which one can take umbrage, and fade away into the shadows, or launch an offense by any means necessary, and against anyone who happens to cross the line that individual has drawn that day? Or, could it have been a mental degenerative disorder that agitated the behavior?

Seemingly, and from the point of view of history, to extirpate the causes of violence would require, and be contingent upon, the identification of the dynamic forces that occur prior to, and in advance of, the actual considered causes, in order to exploit and to thwart the potential for their explosive natures.