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From the Dark Side: On Ghettos, Guns and Crime


I am sure many people are tired of hearing stories about ghettos, violence and crime. It seems as if the stories never end. Bullets keep flying … people keep dying … the jails are a revolving door for criminals and nothing much changes.

Well, as I have been saying for a while now: “we cannot keep doing the same things and expect a different result”. Therefore, what I intend on proposing is not doing the same thing, over and over again. Crime and violence in ghettos have its reasons. And the reasons are not guns or violence on the television, although these are some of the contributing factors in many cases.

The underlying issue for violence and crime in ghettos, is for the most part poverty. People are poor and like Nas, one of my favorite rappers once said: “Niggas gotta go create their own jobs”. This is so very true. I know many people who had and have to create their own jobs. The System has been broken for a long time and we seem to just be trying to patch-it-up so it doesn’t fully crumble to pieces but for how long can patches hold?

After a major shooting takes place in a ghetto, everyone talks about it for a week or two. The presence of police officers is increased, media coverage blows-up, helicopters circle the sky … then, after a few vigils and peace walks, everyone goes home and it’s all back to square one: we get back to the hustle, the cops back to harassing, the politicians back to lying and still nothing changes. Then, another body gets blasted and people seem to be shocked once again.

Can we at least stop being shocked? There is nothing shocking about it. It happens all the time. I am not guaranteed on any day that I will make it to sleep or that I will wake-up. I can catch a lost and confused bullet in the head any time, just by walking on the street or standing at the corner store. This is a reality in and around ghettos: nothing shocking about it … maybe sad, yes.

Why do people shoot people? That is one question. The answer could be that some people are mentally unstable, disturbed, angry, depressed, etc.

Would simply sending a criminal to jail, solve the problem with crime, or shootings? No. One man can be taken off the street but when we have a System that is sick and is producing ill people, how is one man off the street going to solve anything? Many more are growing-up in the killer mind-state. Thus, there is no solution with incarceration. Sticky Fingerz said it best when he wrote: “For criminals going to jail is like going to school, When You come out You are better at the crimes You do”. There is hardly any rehabilitation taking place.

Why rehabilitate people though, when private jails make a profit on Wall St.? The more inmates a prison has, the higher the cost of the shares rises … No, our societies are not yet ready to heal themselves. We do not have a System in place for that. Our System is based on Fear, Greed and Selfishness. On a grand scale, we only pretend to care, or we care for a minute then, we go back to our busy lives …

I hear statements such as: “There is no money for after-school programs for children”, “There is no money for social programs”, “There is no money for education or affordable housing” … but there are billions of dollars available for the Military Industrial Complex, every bloody year … there are billions of dollars available to bail-out the banksters on Wall St.

I just read an article titled, “Sugar Tariffs Cost Americans $2.5 Billion in 2009 “(http://mjperry.blogspot.ca/2010/01/sugar-tariffs-cost-americans-25-billion.html). Yet, there is no money for the poor … no money to help decrease the rising levels of child poverty. No money for education …

The “off with their heads” sentiment is growing constantly and exponentially. The more things deteriorate, the more the feeling of “I have nothing to lose” strengthens. I have witnessed what that state of mind can evolve to, during the revolution in Romania, in 1989. A similar Wind has begun to blow in the western world now too. I feel it.

As a Romanian poet said during that 1989 revolution: “We’ll die and see” – Mircea Dinescu.

Note: My Photographs, Dominican Republic, 2011


Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 31, 2013:

"Poverty is a state of mind" - I fully agree with You, Mr. Spirit Whisperer. Actually, I will go a little further and say that everything we perceive/experience is a "state of mind".

Young Spirits need guidance to "see" that though (in my opinion). I have had that guidance ... lucky and so grateful for that ... not all Spirits are as lucky ...

Those in ghettos who listen to Spirit can overcome it all just by Smiling ... "Smile": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0Vk0EL-r8g&li...

Thank You for stopping by and commenting. : )

All the very best!

Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on May 30, 2013:

Another well thought out article that places a magnifying glass over the issues that become diminished in the eyes of the emotionally numbed.

Unlike you, however, I do not see such things as so cut and dried. Our brains automatically try to make sense of the senseless and the meanings we attach to what we perceive are based on patterns we have made up in our own heads and in many cases have little to do with the screen upon which we project our meanings.

Why is one child born into an environment that provides all the opportunities possible for the that child to develop physically, emotionally and spiritually and anther child is born into abject poverty with nothing but obstacles to his/her physical, emotional and spiritual development?

It is my understanding that it takes lifetimes for us to inevitably learn what are purpose is in this world and in the words of a very wise Shaman, sometimes called I , "It is by experiencing the extremes that we learn most effectively". We are not victims of our lives but rather we actively orchestrate our experiences by our thoughts and actions, sometimes in this lifetime and oftentimes in lifetimes we are no longer consciously aware of. Spirit provides the opportunities for each one of us to grow regardless of whether we are born into a ghetto or into royalty. Each situation comes with its own challenges but the choices we make will affect our personal development and ultimately each one of us affects the whole world. Money has nothing to do with poverty. Poverty is a state of mind, a prison we have all experienced if not in this lifetime, in past lifetimes. We hold the key to our own freedom and it is not a dollar bill!

Thank you.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on October 04, 2012:

Greetings Mr. Watkins,

thank You for taking the time to read and leave such an insightful comment on this article.

I agree with You that single parent households in general have more problems to handle than households where there are two parents around but the issue of poverty cannot be overlooked.

I found your comment regarding violence a little strange though: "we would see far more crime and violence in South America, Asia, and Africa than we do in Chicago." - You just wrote an article about Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico ... You had photos of decapitated bodies ... so, yes there is more violence down south because there is also more poverty.

I was just watching a short documentary not long ago about police work in the Philippines - there is a huge problem with poverty there and crime as well. Nothing You can even imagine in Chicago, haha ... take a look if You wish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLNCB5L3VhA&pla...

Where there is poverty, You will find that the Underground Economy is striving and with that comes violence too. I know because I have lived in such environments for many, many years. In poorer areas there are also more robberies, more thefts, etc. It's common knowledge for those who live in poverty but I can understand how many people viewing such situations from the outside, may have different perspectives or ideas.

Once again, thank You for stopping-by. I appreciate it.

All the best!

James A Watkins from Chicago on October 04, 2012:

You wrote your article very well. I draw a different conclusion about the violence in black neighborhoods. I do not believe the problem is poverty, for several reasons. One is that there are billions of people far poorer than any Americans living around the world who commit far less crime and are far less violent. If poverty was the answer, we would see far more crime and violence in South America, Asia, and Africa than we do in Chicago.

The following are facts about persons in America defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person. The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars. Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions. Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception. Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

That is hardly what would qualify as "poor" in the world or even in the recent past in our own country. What it truly means is that some people are "poorer" than others. Relative to others, some are poor. This results in the great sibling sins of envy and covetousness. It results from thinking it is "unfair" that some have more than others. This is the great progressive bugaboo that makes their thinking latent communism.

When asked: "Would you be HAPPY making $50,000 per year if all your neighbors made $25,000?" Almost every person answered 'Yes!' But when asked "Would you be happy making $50,000 a year if all your neighbors made $100,000?" The answer is usually No!

So it is not what you have it is what other people have. And from this comes the idiotic laundry list of group grievances and newly dreamed up "rights." A right to a cell phone, a right to transportation, a right to a community swimming pool, et al. Essentially, it is a "right" to what "some other people have."

Crimes committed by black men are nine times higher than they were before the 1960s—when they were really oppressed and far more poor as a group. Trillions of dollars in transfer payments were supposed to decrease crime and stabilize families—the opposite is what happened.

I think the real problem is that 80% of black kids have no fathers. That single fact is the single greatest predictor of who is going to end up a violent criminal. That number was only 20% in the 1950s. 80% of children who are psychiatric patients come from fatherless homes. Look at any social pathology from suicide, homosexual behaviors, poor school performance, drug addiction, wife beating, to crime and imprisonment and they more than double if a boy is raised without his father.

Crin Forbes from Michigan on August 23, 2012:

Hey, you can call me Crin, it is easier...

I have a beef with Obama for Afghanistan besides Guantanamo, and the lobbying, however one person can't solve all the evil that took roots in this country since Reagan took office.

Besides, I think we should support him first, and once he gets the Office we can be on his back for his promises.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on August 23, 2012:

Mr. Forbcrin, I agree with You that the "Romney-Ryan legitimate rape" ticket is bad news but so is the black Pinocchio President - the one who lied about closing Guantanamo, the one who gave welfare/bail-outs to corporations while common people lost their homes ... there is no good answer and things will get a little worse before everone wakes up to see that lobbyists and bankers have hijacked the political system.

Thank You for taking the time to read and comment.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on August 23, 2012:

You are very right Mr. Wesman - Ego over community can never work-out good. We live in societies but many of us do not know how to get along with others. I think gate communities are a prime example of this.

So many people indulge in Fear ... it's mind boggling ... and through Fear we create Division.

Thank You for visiting.


Crin Forbes from Michigan on August 23, 2012:

And things are not going to get much better if Romney-Ryan would take over the White House...

If they get elected, we deserve it, they are not making any secret of their intentions to enlarge the ghettos, and to enslave people.


Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on August 23, 2012:

Well you nailed all of that about the sickness of the system.

My opinion would be that you left out (or just didn't word it the way I would) the most defined root cause of it all. (No, it's not something I figured out myself...but since I heard it, everything seems to make more sense)

Ego over community.

Everyone (not all - but such a higher percentage!) values themselves over the health of the community.

Essentially this is the same thing Saint Paul was talking about when he was going on and on about the war of the Flush against the Spirit.

Why do we have persons with trillions of dollars, and persons starving? Ego over the human community.

The lack of love for others, the overabundance of self love (which...is no longer even love...it is hate.)

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 30, 2012:

Thank You for taking the time to read and comment, Mr. HSchneider. I appreciate it as I see the need for people to discuss such issues and try to come to an understanding on how to better our societies.

All the best!

Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on July 30, 2012:

Excellent analysis, Mr. Happy. Poverty is by far the main reason for crime in both ghettoes and now the suburbs. The suburbs are now drawing many poor people because of the massive loss of good jobs. As people lose their savings, they are drawn to desperate measures. This only proves your theory with the inner city ghettoes. People are desparate and in despair and see no downside to crime. Great Hub.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 26, 2012:

"Governments have become hostage to big business whose only concern is the profit margin." - I fully agree with You on this point, SilentReed. Indeed, governments are no longer representing the common man - they represent the lobbyists who buy them out ... Globalization hasn't worked out so well. Actually it has worked well but only for the 1% at the top.

Thank You for stopping-by.

All the best!

SilentReed from Philippines on July 26, 2012:

"A desperate person will grab the sharp blade of a knife" We also have that saying here in the Philippines,we say "Kapit sa patalim" (grasping the sharp edge) It is use as a metaphor meaning that in desperate times, usually because of poverty a person will do anything; risk life and limb,steal,sell their body or kill just to survive. With the economy going from bad to worst expect more street violence. Governments have become hostage to big business whose only concern is the profit margin. With the working middle class feeling the economic crunch,"social welfare" has become a dirty word. Will the ill wind that you speak of be a class war between the rich and poor? History have shown that the poor have always been cannon fodders for the struggle of the rich against the rich seeking power and a bigger slice of the economic spoils.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 25, 2012:

That I think is quite true, Mr. Ericdierker. Encouragement can certainly help, especially for me since I do not write for money here on Hub-pages. Thus, what is important for me is to raise awareness on issues which I think affect us all. If people engage in conversations, that is indeed encouraging and I am grateful for theopportunity to share thoughts and ideas.

Thank You once again.


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 25, 2012:

I reckon that is a cool thing about hubpages. It seems to me that here, we give common encouragement and therefor a boatload of hope.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 25, 2012:

You are very right, Mr. Ericdierker: "ghettos can only exist where there is an absence of hope". "Nothing to lose" is a very common view on Life, in the ghettos. Everyone is trying to make it out - whatever it takes.

There is very little concrete help so, the status quo remains.

Thank You very much for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 25, 2012:

The biggest bad ghetto that I ever saw was just outside of Mexico City, we were bringing some water filters there. It just went on for miles and miles. I was told there were much more than 100,000 living there. After a bit I realized that we were in the city dump. Poverty may be the end result or the causation, but it seems to me, that ghettos can only exist where there is an absence of hope. Any work may or may not help in these places, but the presence of someone who cares is the beginning of the building of hope. Your piece here reminds us well, than you.

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 24, 2012:

"A desperate person will grab the sharp blade of a knife" - I have never heard that saying but I have seen a desperate person grab the blade of a knife before. His thumb almost got cut-off. I helped the guy wrap-it-up after and he was lucky enough to heal in the end ... Life in the ghettos ...

Thank You for the comment, Mrs. CrisSp.

All the best!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 24, 2012:

"A desperate person will grab the sharp blade of a knife." - is a famous saying on poverty and is self-explanatory. It is indeed sad that this is happening around us and in my opinion, poverty is one of the culprits plus the lack of education. I could tackle more on the subject but will save the rest of my words for later hub. May we all find the time to reflect and be enlightened. Peace to you Mr. Happy!

Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on July 24, 2012:

Greetings Mr. Aravind,

I cannot even say that I am upset with the killings - as I wrote above, this is nothing new in my life or where I live: people die in many distorted ways: stabbings, shottings, over-dose, etc.

What bothers me is the masquarade in the after math of such incidents. We have had shootings here every day of the week (twenty-three people shot just on Monday night alone) and hardly anyone is talking about the real reason behind crime and violence, which is poverty.

There are no plans to work on diminishing the poverty level. Instead, social programs have been cut, to satisfy banksters through austerity measures. Therefore, I know exactly what is to come: more shootings, robberies, home-invasions, etc ...

It is the lack of foresight and honest will to better things, that is what is disturbing to me.

Thank You for the read and comment. Many thanks.

Aravind Balasubramanya from Puttaparthi, India on July 24, 2012:

These are some real deep issues you are raising Mr.Happy and am sure they make you unhappy - your language says it all. It seems like one huge entangled mess and we seem to have no idea where to begin. I feel, the best we can do is begin at the individual level and hope that many individuals will one day be inspired similarly from within... and hopefully, soon we will have a critical mass which can bring about a change...

Actually, just today, I was writing about how the man in orange responded to 'depressing news items'... You can take a look at your leisure...


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