Has murder become the norm in our society? Every day, you turn on the news to see who else got killed. I had to disconnect my cable TV because I just got so sick and tired of watching homicide news every day and see no change in our country's policies.
No kid is born to become a murderer. Yet, our society somehow does a great job turning them into monsters. How? Liberty and freedom for all! Oh, really? Then why is the U.S. incarceration rate one of the highest in the world? Why is our homicide rate so high? Why do we have more shootings than any other civilized country in the world? Meanwhile, we claim to be the "LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD." Is that a joke?
Kids like Nikolas Cruz make headlines because school mass shootings haven't quite become the norm for some people yet. However, we have communities where kids grow up as if in war zones, and gun violence is indeed the norm. So what do we expect from these kids? The fittest survives.
Kumasi was one of my students when I just started teaching at Lanier-James. Troubled kid. Suspensions. Expulsions. Arrests. More suspensions. More arrests. Now he should be locked up for a long time. That is the path a lot of our youths, especially black youths have to take. Not everybody can afford to live in Weston or Parkland. Places like Carol City, Liberia, West Park, Miami Gardens don't have gated communities and private schools. These children don't get to go to soccer practices after school. That's not their priority. A lot of their parents aren't there for them either. "My Momma's on drugs. My Daddy's in jail," wrote one of my students in her rap when we were working on a poetry project. For these kids, high GPA and SAT scores aren't the priorities. The priority is to make it through the day and stay alive. These are survivors. These are soldiers living in the combat zone day in and day out. No military benefits though. No PTSD treatment. No vacations. Those who didn't survive in the American Inner City Jungle are dead. Those who did are behind bars. They have no fear. They are tough. If they had to go to war, they would be our heroes. However, we'd rather see them as criminals, felons who don't deserve to be around, who belong behind bars. The longer they are locked up, the more money we can collect from tax payers to support our prisons. Business is business. Money makes the world go round. Why help some delinquent youths when you can make money off delinquency and felonies? Lawyers can make money, judges can make money, prisons can make money. Help the American economy grow!
Such is our reality. Such is our law. Such is our system of punishment. One can get away with anything as a minor: an armed robbery, grand theft, even homicide. What can juvenile justice system do? Give you 21 days in DJJ and expel from school? Oh wow! Big deal! Schools are worthless for the kids who need money because they don't have rich parents... who don't have parents. Period. Some of Lanier kids have to support their siblings and their mothers. How can one do that by working a part-time job at Publix or McDonalds? So you go in the Jungle and make some dough. Quick.
Vocational training stopped being a priority. Our kids graduate from high school and still are not qualified for jobs that pay a decent amount of money. It's a vicious cycle. To make money you need money. Where do you get money if your parents don't have any? How do you get trained for a career? Who are the young people's role models nowadays? Kim Kardashian and Kanye West? Kodak Black and Lil Wayne? These are the most influential people if you look at our media. What are their values? A life of luxury? Get rich or die tryin'?
So what do we expect from our youths surrounded by gun violence, role models with questionable values? What ARE our values nowadays? Our values as a country? Get rich, have sex with as many people as you can, get high, live large and take charge? Are these the values our country was built on? We have to look at ourselves and our leadership. They say, you get the leaders you deserve.
Does our current leadership represent the spirit of America?
Get rich or die tryin'?..