How often does a problem go unnoticed until it invades our personal world…our comfort zone? A lot I suppose.
My world has been full of young people and urban education and democracy and social justice for many many years.
This moment is when my own personal safety is called into question as a mom.
I have been all over Houston…once even to pull a student out of a potential gang stand off. I remember wondering as we drove if I should have the window up to slow a bullet or down so I could hear it coming. These are the moments I look back on and just shake my head. I wasn’t a mom. I was only responsible for me (I use that word loosely, clearly).
In Kansas City I would go all over town at all times of day…picking students up…dropping them off. I wasn’t a mom. I was only responsible for me.
When I happened to catch the story about concerns of violence on the Plaza, this caught my attention. That is 5 minutes from my house. 5 minutes from where my babies sleep.
My friend asked if I wanted to go to the Plaza art fair. I said sure! but wait…
If this is my response…then it is time that I put in one place all I know and have read that just might impact this situation.
I heard on the news they were talking about imposing a 9pm curfew. I think they did this in Westport when there were issues with violence. Kids just find somewhere else to go. A curfew does not send people home…just away. Away would assume they have somewhere to go…something to do…or implies perhaps we do not care if they have somewhere to go or something to do…just don’t be here. Go and “be” somewhere else. I don’t like that message. Neither do kids.
I don’t know who it is hanging around on the Plaza. I do know that I used to hang around when I was in high school. I wasted a lot of gas driving around and up and down Welch Avenue. There was nowhere to “be”…nowhere that reached out to me…that captured my interest. I had a home to go to…loving parents…family…friends. I wanted to socialize and hang out.
When I moved to Houston in 1995, one of the first places I felt comfort was at the community center near one of my schools. There was always something going on there and lots of families and friendly people about. It was a place to be with things to do.
I do not know where my points of reference fit into this situation, but it seems one or more may be pertinent.
This is what I am wondering:
1. Who is hanging around creating a problem?
2. What do they like to do?
3. Do they have a job?
4. Are they in school?
5. What do they think might be some solutions to this situation?
6. Did this situation migrate from Westport? If so, how can we handle things this time in a better way?
Here are the things I was thinking in connection to this situation:
I don’t even remember what was going on with the economy when I was “hanging out” but I did have a job and was in school. Is the economy and a lack of money for social activities a factor? Or is it that there isn’t somewhere to be to begin with?
When the hanging out involves gun violence this results in death or at the very least a probably costly and inconvenient recovery for someone that would be nice to avoid. It also might involves the cost of incarceration which I think runs at about $60,000 a year.
I started searching for information on big cities with low crime. I wondered about what they were doing that we may or may not be doing.
I thought of Airick Leonard West and was interested in his insight on the situation.
I wondered what Father Greg Boyle might suggest we do. It isn’t gang violence, but his capacity to connect and care and listen is just the thing.
I was brought to tears by Jeremy Gilley as he shared about his one day of peace and what he was collectively able to accomplish.
No one comes into the world wanting to create a problem or bring harm to others. How did we get to here? Since we are here, where might we go so there are plenty of places to be and things to do?
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