By Dr. Sinclair Grey III
Gun violence is no stranger to what’s happening in the inner cities. The number of killings in Chicago, Washington, DC, and other major metropolitan areas can’t help but raise eyebrows as to why this problem continues to occur, but little attention is brought to it. Permit me to say that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School as well as what happened inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado will forever be stitched in the minds of everyone. National attention was given to the shooter and the victims. Without a doubt, we must remember the lives of the innocent. However, I’m concerned that national attention isn’t given to crimes within inner city communities. Is it racism? Is it prejudice? Is it that black and brown people don’t really matter?
Dr. Gloria Brooks, a professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park reiterates to her class that crime has no zip code. In other words, no matter where you live, criminal activity is always possible.
As we look at what’s happening in today’s world, the lack of adequate employment along with a host of other social ills can contribute to gun violence. Should we give people a pass for using gun violence because they have a problem? Of course not. However, we need to address some of the emotional/psychological issues people are dealing with on a daily basis. It’s only after innocent lives are lost that the mental health of the shooter is examined. Waiting to examine the mental health of the shooter when in many cases it was evident from the outset that there was a problem, brings about significant harm to so many people.
Having worked in the human services industry, I can attest to the stress many social workers face everyday. Along with the stress, the lack of financial support for programs can make it seem impossible to help those who need help to get the help they so desperately need.
The time for people to work collectively is now. It doesn’t matter one’s educational, social, or political status, crime affects all of us. The days of saying it’s an inner city problem or it’s a black problem are over. So many people want to preach that we are living in a post-racial world, but fail to reach across the street to the poor and disenfranchised.
When many buildings in the inner city are either boarded up or run downed, the spirit within that community is crushed. Dr. Kristal Owens-Gayle of the Empowerment Center in Maryland calls this ‘the broken-glass syndrome’, which simply means the more broken glasses and trash debris you see in a neighborhood, the greater the threat for crime. This problem cannot be overlooked. Simply moving further out to the suburbs won’t fix the problem. Cleaning up the neighborhood and establishing programs that will empower, educate, and elevate people from the inside out will help diminish gun violence.
The real solution begins when all of us to come together for a common cause. The cause is ending gun violence and the best way to begin is to do what Malcolm X said, ‘leave your religion at home.’ Whatever your religion, spirituality, or faith maybe, at the core of every ideology is love. When love is manifested, change can begin.
We need to stop pointing fingers. Whether it’s the media, politicians, or the entertainment industry, we (the people) need to educate ourselves and those around us about the need to practice peace and non-violence. In addition to praying for peace, we must make it a reality.
Gun violence in the inner city is just as important as gun violence in any other neighborhood. The lives of one group do not outweigh the lives of any other group. As we care about what happened in Sandy Hook and Aurora, let’s care about what’s happening everyday through varies communities.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an inspirational speaker, motivator, radio personality, author, organizer and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for change. Email: [email protected] Follow on Twitter @drsinclairgrey