Violence is not the Answer

A person experiences violence regardless of his or her geographical location. Violence is catastrophic, toxic, and has a dramatic impact on a community. Violence is a product of misbehavior and lack of emotional outlets. People bring violence to the streets of Chicago because they believe that actions speak louder than words. People solve confrontation on the streets with the pull of a trigger rather than taking a minute to talk it out. Many Chicagoans have become numb to the headlines that read: “40 shot and 4 killed this weekend,” or “She didn’t have a chance.” Chicagoans shake their heads and scoff, while saying “There goes another one.” How could traumatic events become ordinary? Community members continuously march for justice and peace in their neighborhoods while city officials create new programs and jobs to keep young people off the streets, but that doesn’t seem to work. Young people have discovered easier ways to make money as well as more convenient ways to utilize their free time. Selling loose squares is easier than selling papers, and “turning up smoking on some dope” is a more desired way to spend their day. Being brought up in an impoverished community often leads to violence, which causes one to view violence as a solution rather than a problem due to a lack of education.

A community influences one’s upbringing. There are many events in a child’s life that have a lasting impact on his or her growth long term. Growing up in poverty is one of them. Poverty has a strong effect on a child’s upbringing that can ultimately affect the child’s well-being in the distant future. A study by Northwestern University, as cited in Stromberg, 2013, has proven that children who are born into impoverished communities suffer from damage to their cognitive skills. Cognition is the process of acquiring knowledge; therefore, it is critical for a child to possess this skill. Interruption of this skill is caused by stress that a child undergoes when living in such a community. Dialogue from The Interrupters (2011) that shows the effect of limited cognitive skills and how it causes violence is observed when Ammena is explaining the emotions of Dee after his miscommunication. “Dee, was in the heat of the moment, that adrenaline was still going, that I’m gonna fuck them up. I’m gonna get them back.” When living in an impoverished area, a child may be exposed to noise, violence and family separation. These misfortunes then alter the development of the child’s brain. Soon, the child is left behind and unresponsive to information being taught and told to them. Children who are in impoverished areas also have poor auditory comprehension skills, which was also studied and proven by Northwestern University (Stromberg, 2013). A child raised in a low-income community may find themselves distracted by surrounding noises. This matter is rooted in the loud streets of urban communities. Unfortunately, these misfortunes are attached to some children from a very young age. These setbacks ultimately make it harder for a child to succeed, which is why many young people turn to violence because they feel as if that is all they have. They are unable to solve their problems in a mature manner. They do as they have seen the people around them do. They try to rise above their setbacks but go about it all wrong. Young people have lost hope. However, everyone is capable of being successful regardless of their setbacks. There is more to one’s future than the block they live on.

Many will find themselves growing up in an area with a zip code that is interpreted as unsuccessful. A shameful zip code is a result of poverty and a bad reputation. For example, young people growing up on 77th and Halsted might be caught rapping a line from Kanye West’s song, “New God Flow,” where he states, “I’m from the 312 where the cops don’t come through and dreams don’t come true.” Many young people turn to violence because that is all they know.

This neighborhood in Chicago has a very low-income rate. Neighborhood Scout’s research shows that this neighborhood has an income lower than 99.4% of U.S. neighborhoods. With 77.3% of the children here below the federal poverty line, this neighborhood has a higher rate of childhood poverty than 98.9% of U.S. neighborhoods.

The correlation between impoverished areas and the location of high crimes is evident. Impoverished communities are ranked as the most violent. Their violent ways are established from their surroundings. The statistics from this area are entirely too high; when you have double digits that are above 50%, that is unacceptable.

Poverty does cause violence, but that can be changed. Rags to riches is possible if one desires to succeed and rise above. Englewood is a high crime community, but that did not stop Derrick Rose or Jabari Parker. These men yearned for success and wanted to be more than just “another brotha from the hood.” Young people need knowledge, which is why they should be attending school. For goals to be made and reached knowledge is needed in addition to positivity being displayed around them. When thinking how to bring change, are the streets the problem or is it the people on the streets? The strength of the gun is found in the trigger. The gun will not fire unless the trigger is pulled back. Killing someone doesn’t show strength; it shows weakness. The shooters are so weak that they are unable to solve their own problems or rise above; therefore, they pull the trigger. The bullet is their resolution, and death is their reward. Hearing the victim inhale one last time convinces them that their problems have been resolved until the shooters are nearly out of breath as they run and hide from the police. Although they may think their problem is solved by the death of their victim, they created a new problem. The shooter caused pain and suffering to more than just the victim. So now they must face time behind bars, leaving them to reflect on what they have done.

Others may turn to violence because they are disadvantaged intellectually and educationally. Being unable to think critically limits the amount of possible solutions to a problem. Violence is the popular solution to many problems because it is the easiest. But to think at a more elevated level, one must possess cognitive skills. However, most shooters thinking in such a way lack cognitive skills and related to their development. Therefore, it is a cause and effect situation leading to the pull of the trigger. Shooters pull the trigger back for a quick resolution and euphoric rush, which is only temporary. Then, subsequently, they feel nothing more than shame as their punishment is set before them. Flamo says it’s best in The Interrupters (2011) when he reflects on his life, “Like, wasn’t none of that worth it. ‘Cause out all the stuff I had to do and done back then, I ain’t got nothin’ to show for. None that I done negative. My friends in jail. My friends, drug addicts or whatever.” This proves that in the moment it may seem to be the best solution, but it is not. The shooters need to think long term and rationally.

Violence is not the answer and it never has been. his plague of innocent and irrational deaths need to stop. The best solution to this problem is to want more—more knowledge, more positive role models, and more community support. Young people should not only want this for themselves, but for others around them. They should be the constructive influencers of their communities rather than being influenced by the negative. Regardless of their zip code and setbacks they should rise above. Being brought up in an impoverished community often leads to violence, which cause one to view violence as a solution rather than a problem, due to a lack of education. By trading in the guns and harsh ways for knowledge and positive role models, the community will be given brighter hope for the future. Young people need to be given a better chance and be taught to obtain positive life goals. It is time to change the way things are done. A new foundation needs to be set to create a safer place and a positive reputation.