By MARK GUNN
Your Voice Contributor
I was asked to weigh in on the recent violence in Louisville and offer some solutions that everyday people can be a part of, and I thought that I would have a different perspective seeing as that I was out of the country when the rash of shootings happened. Turns out that my perspective is the same as it ever was.
For years, I’ve watched the local news and have seen countless stories about it. Every time I thought “Please don’t let this be more Black on Black bull—-,” and 9 times out of 10, it was. I’m way past tired of seeing Black faces as criminals and victims and I have an advantage that most people don’t; the ability to use a very public forum (the radio) to express my frustration. That’s where part of the problem lies.
I call it the “Violence Of Silence.” There are some of the so-called “leadership” within the Black Community that would much rather that I keep my mouth shut because they see this as an internal problem that only we can solve. Airing our dirty laundry only makes us look bad to the community at large. What idiots! They don’t see that this mentality only continues to feed the beast because of what I see as implied consent.
There are also those who will rightfully blame external forces like poverty, poor education and drugs for being a part of the problem. However, when it’s time for practical solutions and critical thinking, I continue to hear “we need to come together and stay prayed up.” No knock against religion or religious people, but they also seem to forget that “God helps those that help themselves.” Frankly, I don’t see how staying on your knees accomplishes that without some action to go with it.
Black people must quit looking to the church in order to solve their problems. The church simply isn’t equipped to handle the problem in the way it needs to be dealt with. We must ask ourselves why it is that we don’t have the political cache’ that others do. Who do you see when problems like this arise in other communities? Is it the clergy or an attorney or politician? I’ve said it so often and I’ll keep saying it. Feed your spirit in church. Solve your problems in the courts and city hall.
The “Violence Of Silence” extends beyond the Black Community because, as Attorney General Eric Holder once said, we are indeed a nation of cowards, especially when it comes to the issue of race and the root causes of violence.
The fact that this recent spat has caught so much attention has amazed me to be quite honest because it’s usually a case of “oh those Blacks are at it again. No wonder they can’t get ahead.” This has led to resentment by some in the White Community and if we’re to be completely honest, some of it is justified. We can talk about the history of racism in this country. We can even talk about those incidents that continue to happen in 2012, but in their eyes, we don’t have much of an argument when we continue to kill each other. Just look at the various opinions about the Trayvon Martin case.
On the other hand, the White Community (society) has to accept the fact that they are partly responsible because of policies and “norms” that continue to serve as a detriment to Black progress (read “White Privilege”). Discriminatory practices like redlining by insurance companies, predatory lending practices by banks, the influx of drugs (legal and otherwise), the lack of resources and quite frankly, apathy when it comes to addressing the concerns of Blacks have been ingredients in a dangerous mix that have also led to the violence we’re seeing. The saddest part about all of this is as Dr. Wayne C. Jones put it, we live in an ADHD society. We’re talking about this right now, but will we be next week?
Blacks must learn to articulate the problems we’re facing in an intelligent manner and Whites must learn to LISTEN. Anytime the issue of race is brought up, one side gets angry and the other defensive. We seem to do pretty well as individuals, but this is a collective thing that we all have a stake in solving because we all are part of the problem.
The “Violence Of Silence” manifests itself in another way. The lack of Black men standing up and in no uncertain terms, showing through action that the violence in our community is unacceptable. We must give them a choice. They can either seek help in redeeming themselves, or face a very harsh justice that the community will support. There are a few of us that will take a kid aside and try to talk TO them. The mistake some of us make is that we talk AT them. We separate ourselves from them by calling them “the youth.” THESE ARE OUR KIDS! There are times when talking does not work, and it’s been my experience that quite a few of the ones committing the violence are cowards themselves. When confronted, they cannot look you straight in the eye. That’s a sure sign of fear. How you take advantage of that fear is a key in reaching them.
Men and community groups MUST form a partnership with law enforcement and city officials. I’ve proposed a partnership between the police department, the Nation Of Islam and ordinary citizens in order to do community sweeps as part of an outreach plan. We want to end the violence, but there must be a UNIFIED show of strength and if needed, force. ZERO TOLERANCE must become the new mindset.
Bottom line, it doesn’t matter if you live in the East End and another person is murdered at 28th & Broadway. Turning a blind eye is the “Violence Of Silence.”
Mark Gunn is a radio personality on WMJM (Magic 101.3) and is celebrating his 10th year in Louisville and 34th in radio. He’s worked in a variety of formats including Top 40, Rock, Urban Contemporary and Country to name a few.
In 1992, as Music Director of KACE – FM in Los Angeles he instituted a policy called “Enjoyability With Responsibility.” It was designed to remove songs whose lyrical content had a negative effect on the Black Community. He received awards from the N.A.A.C.P., N.O.W. (The National Organization For Women) and the California State Senate and a commendation from President Bill Clinton.
Mark Gunn has always been an extremely conscience voice in the community. He sums it up everyday when he goes off the air with this phrase: “If you can’t change the people around you, then change the people around you.”