Inner city communities are like war zones
With the stress that comes with war, it’s a shame people don’t properly discuss what the mind goes through and how it changes. It’s no surprise that anxiety, PTSD and depression rise during wartime. NBC News reports that 1 in 8 returning soldiers suffer from PTSD.
But there is another war going on that’s not in the Middle East. This war hardly gets news coverage, and it’s happening in America’s major cities. Dangerous living situations and crime are regular facts of life.
Where is the coverage?
The fact is reporters are too scared to go into certain neighborhoods. In cities like Oakland, Philadelphia, Compton, Atlanta and even Houston, it’s “too dangerous.” The concept of America not being as secure as we would like to think is not conducive to the state of society.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 90 percent of Army and Marine soldiers have seen dead bodies and/or been shot at. In Iraq, 95 percent of Marines have been ambushed and 92 percent have had rockets and mortars shot at them. In the middle of a war zone, not only is there constant danger — more importantly, what a mind knows to be safe is disrupted and fragmented.
In 2015 there were 83 murders in Oakland, 94 in Atlanta and 303 in Houston. These murders were mostly due to gang violence. In America, two out of five gang members are under 18 and are considered “youth.”
Most will look at the statistics and think they’re due to lack of law enforcement, ease of access to drugs, guns, the allure of gangs or even a lack of morals. But what they fail to acknowledge are the circumstances and the demographics of these cities. Atlanta is 61 percent black, Compton 40 percent black and Philadelphia is 43 percent black. Black people are concentrated in cities across the country. The cities are implanted with drugs through no fault of their own.
Once an individual becomes disenfranchised through mass incarceration, it becomes difficult for them to get a job. The allure of selling drugs to make money to survive increases, leading to a growth in gangs. People who sell get caught, they go to prison, and the cycle continues.
This phenomenon surrounding American cities creates a state of mind for the people who live there, especially when it comes to violence. Children, teenagers and young adults are killed. People who live in inner cities have higher chances of seeing their friends get killed or walking out of their front doors and seeing a dead body. When bullets whiz by you and car doors have holes in them, it’s not so different from a battlefield in a conflict zone.
The youth have been indoctrinated in a cruel way. They have to survive. They have seen death up close and personal and have to do whatever it takes to not end up like what they see everyday.
But the psyche of black kids in America is not the topic of discussion.
We assume black kids have no conscience and their predicament is something they want to be in. However, what happens in the inner city is what it looks like to try and stay afloat in a country that is trying to drown you out.
Chicago was left out of this discussion of inner city violence. We are aware of what is going on in Chicago. We know statistics, we see documentaries and we hear it in music. People use Chicago as the singular beacon of crime and that only worsens the problem. Chicago is not a un-shared issue.
The sooner the world sees that this happens across multiple state lines, the sooner we will see that this is a problem of a country and not mutually exclusive.
This column has been updated with correction to grammar, punctuation and usage.
Opinion columnist Dana Jones is a print journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]