Monday, May 13, 2013

This is who we are


NOPD names 19-year-old Akein Scott suspect in Mother's Day shooting

There was a time when I would have looked at this young man's face and felt nothing but anger and hate.  The truth is, now, I just feel hopeless.  It's a forlorn inevitability that a tragedy such as this will happen again in this city...I don't know what to do about it or how we can bring it to an end.  I know the problem starts with adolescence and education but I don't have specific answers and I don't think anyone in this city is coming up with effective answers.  Maybe it's because we're not listening, maybe we're not seeing the issues for what they really are.  I truly don't know.

I feel beaten, lost and even worse, I'm afraid I'm becoming numb.

Maybe there are people out there, smarter than I, smarter than the leaders in this city, that do have answers.  If they are out there, I wish they would help us because we're obviously not capable of helping ourselves.  Yes..that is a desperate plea.

Mayor Landrieu stated today that "This is not who we are as a community".  That may be true in the sense that the majority of this city abhors this epidemic of violence from which we suffer but the truth is, this is exactly who we are.  We built this...through sins of omission or sins of commission...we are responsible for what we've become.  Preaching the gospel of peace to the choir is going to have little effect on the lost souls outside the chapel walls.

We are a community living in fear of our own children, our own young men.  That's your fault, that's my fault, that's our fault....and of course it's the individual's fault, but not solely.  We are all products of our culture, when children are brought up in a culture that doesn't value human life the adults in that community must share the blame of the child's future actions.  We, as a community, are obviously not getting through to our children.  Truth be told, we are failing...miserably.

As a student of anthropology, I believe this problem, at it's core, is cultural.  And I want to stress, vehemently...I don't mean race when I say culture...I mean the culture and environment inside this city, New Orleans, that has honed these young men into violent sociopaths.

Children aren't born murderers (with possible clinical exceptions), the environment they grow up in shapes them as such.

I don't think we can legislate ourselves out of this.  I don't think we can police our way out of this.  I don't think we can imprison our way out of this.  I don't think we can pray our way out of this.  I don't think we can publicize our way out of this.

I think, perhaps, the best way to address our problem is to change how we are approaching it.  Perhaps we need to understand the culture that is creating the violence, first.  Perhaps we should start by listening...as painful as it may be...perhaps we should start by listening to these individuals who are perpetuating this cycle of violence.  If we don't understand what the mindset is, what the circumstances are...I think we will have little to no chance of changing it.

As much as I am sickened by this young man, Akein Scott's, actions right now, more than anything, I want to listen to him....I want to know why.  Until I understand why, I know I can't help.      

13 comments:

Janie Tijerina said...

I recommend reading this: On Mother's Day (and everyday) Violence in New Orleans - http://tmblr.co/Zf574tkw7IiM

Anonymous said...

Sadly, your post reminded me of a journal entry I wrote in 2006. After the flood, after the Helen Hill tradgegy I reflected on the state of our city and the reasons that we had come to such a low point. But, here we are nearly seven years later and still exactly where we were then. I do still have hope that things will change for the better. But, like you I have no idea how.

kikanola said...


I'm also reminded of three co-workers who were murdered, execution style in the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen incident. The year:1996. I stood outside with my friends dead inside, forever changed & numb to all the senseless violence around me....

kikanola said...

I'm also reminded of three co-workers who were murdered, execution style in the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen incident. The year:1996. I stood outside with my friends dead inside, forever changed & numb to all the senseless violence around me....

Anonymous said...

Why? Something to do. No jobs, no future, no sense that a social contract exists. AZ, did you read the story last week about the 110'ers gang? They weren't even in the drug trade. It was only about beefs and killing. This all seems to be getting worse.

Anonymous said...

Midnight basketball is not the answer. The point of a second line is to own the streets that people live on 24/7. To establish programs that take the good kids 'away' for a few hours after which they go back into the warzone is idiotic thinking.

Social responsibility is absent in the minds of those who seed violence. There's a revolving door at the courthouse so gangs don't have fear of consequence: the system is broken. So what do these transgressors fear? What do they hate? Work. It's embarrassing. It's cooler to be a thug.

Young man was out on bail? Can't prosecute him, can't put an ankle monitor on him yet? There should be a program where during the legal proceedings which follow an arrest those accused must work for the community: paint the homes of the elderly poor, plant gardens in the empty lots. Make it embarrassing to be arrested. Right now, it's a badge of honor. Heck, it might even be dangerous to be assigned street work for minimum wage, as those teens are out there exposed.

Make it not worth their while to be arrested, and the violence will subside. Jail isn't a threat.

Anonymous said...

More publicly funded billboards?

Anonymous said...

you need look no further than the record opium crop in afghanistan that is now off limits to NATO. cheap heroin is going to make things only worse.

Amy said...

Look, we tried and tried to do the right thing. To try to have schools based on loving our children instead of putting them out for untucked shirts. Schools like this one: http://nuestraescuela.org/

The state wouldn't let us. The state of Louisiana is a plantation.

When I was about 10, someone at my Daddy's office explained to me that white people didn't care if all the Black people killed each other off, and someone else said the worst mistake we ever made was to refuse to educate them. That was in the mid-80's. My Dad, a gun enthusiast, has often said over the years that they could get illegal guns off the streets if they really wanted to. They don't.

My heart breaks for home every day. But New Orleans ain't gonna change until the people decide they really want it. And you better believe there will be blowback including from Mr. Mayor himself. These old money families and the legions of people beholden to them have to come out of power for real change to happen.

And yes, it will require a radical re-thinking about our relationships with each other, schools, and guns.

http://www.missionhillschool.org/a-year-at-mission-hill/

http://empathy.ashoka.org/

Vert Drakol said...

In a world where Gangs run rough shod over "there" turf. Is it surprising that even lone wolves take there cue from what they see around them.

Long ago there were gangs, gangs in cities, town, even rural townships would have them. Once a month or more the would gather in force, show the colors train socialize: They would call their leader strange titles, Colonel, Captain, etc.

In our world illegal (guerrilla) militias conduct low intensity conflicts over boundaries, collect taxes through criminal monopolies, and show colors of their band.
Idle hands and empty minds are the Devil's Workshop.

We fought a terrible war long ago, give these kids leaders to be proud of not afraid of, stop these Rogue predators from stealing urban children from fighting in there wars. Maybe Boys like this one lone wolf or not will have different role models for their lives.

And hey, who's to say you can't have a few games of shirts verses skins at midnight after the days training is done.

Janie Tijerina said...

Urban anthropology - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/05/the-code-of-the-streets/306601/ by Elijah Anderson

Janie Tijerina said...

Urban anthropology - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/05/the-code-of-the-streets/306601/ by Elijah Anderson

Anonymous said...

I to am a student of anthropolgy, history and sociology.

The violence, I believe, is primarily terrorism. What do radical muslims and poor african americans have in common ? I don't know. I have not heard of a solution yet which I believe will work.

I would like to hear from your readers. What are the roots of terrorism and how is it prevented,