Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Them" Apples

This is a revealing letter to the editor that was published in the Oakland Tribune on February 16, 2008. It was written by a D. Moore of Oakland.

“Regarding the recent surge in violence in Oakland:

While putting more police on the streets, addressing the liquor stores who allow people to loiter, etc., are good ideas, it does not get to the heart of the problem – which is that these kids have no heart.

I don’t care how many programs are available; it does not mean that problem kids will take advantage of them because it’s not what they want to do.

The breakdown of the family and the absence of a strong parent in the home is certainly of concern, but the call of the streets can be strong on a kid with a single parent who needs to work to keep the household going.

I recently attended the funeral of someone who was shot a few weeks ago. It was the most distasteful funeral I have ever attended.

The picture on the cover of his funeral program was of him smoking a blunt and holding a bottle of liquor. His obituary was about three to four lines long detailing when and where he was born, where he went to school and when he died; the rest was two paragraphs of his remaining relatives and friends.

The kids who passed by to view his body took pictures of him like it was a media event and one was even talking on his cell phone.

They looked nonchalant, like it was no big thing; their faces looked blank, like they were dead inside. When it was over, there was a party atmosphere in the parking lot where some kids were drinking and smoking weed. They had no respect for themselves, so they certainly had no respect for this dead kid or anyone else.

I suggest those arrested for murder or attempted murder should be forced to do community service work in the morgue and/or some funeral home – even participate in an autopsy.

Maybe seeing death up close and personal, and not just from the end of a gun, might bring them pause to think about what they are involved in.”

I don't know if the author's final suggestion would work or not, but it's clear that something is very wrong. The scene described here is similarly described in “Code of the Street” by sociologist Elijah Anderson.

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