Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not Exactly "Our Gang"

Anonymous writes:

Holy Moley! Look at tonight's quote in the DDT from our public schools' superintendent: "I feel like Mr. Brady and myself can be used to show young boys and girls who participate in gangs that there comes a time when you can put down your weapons and you can be on the same team and do the right thing. "Nice sentiments, but---this is Greenville, Mississippi, not New York or Los Angeles.

WHY is our school administration having to acknowledge gangs? Can you picture either Rodney Brown or Paul Artman (administrators at the private and parochial schools) saying anything remotely similar?

This is so far removed from my everyday life---it's no wonder that I don't connect with the current woes of the City Fathers. (City Fathers....right. They're rolling in their graves.)

Sociologists tell us that teens join "gangs" today to seek respect, support, protection and a sense of belonging. In the 1950's, those things were provided to us by something we called a "family". The breakdown of the family unit is the underlying cause of 60% of Greenville's socio-economic problems.

If one's morals, values and judgements are imparted by one's "parents", you can see why we have a problem in the Delta. For many kids today, "parents" are viewed as a diverse group of adults, moving in and out of your life, who may, or may not, be related to you and have very little interest or regard for your welfare. Morality is a thing that adults preach, but don't practice.

Sure, gangs are a reality and they are at the root of much of the crime and drugs in Greenville. They serve as surrogate parents to kids who have no other role models from which to learn. Ignorance begets ignorance... and thus, the circle is unbroken.

Rodney and Paul should consider themselves lucky not to have to address the issue of gangs in their schools; however, to dismiss their existence in the community would be pure folly! Ten years ago school administrators totally denied the existence of gangs in our schools. At least now they are beginning to acknowledge the "2,000 pound elephant in the room."

As for our "city fathers rolling in their graves"... perhaps. Then again, they may have the best seat in the house!



Local Reflector said...

This is an excellent article regarding "Not Exactly Our Gang."

There's no way the private schools have gang problems as the demographics don't match what everyone assumes to be a "street gang."

Headmaster Brown can be excused for never addressing gangs, but former-Mayor Artman should've addressed them while running the city. Heck, even an acknowledgment that drug running and gang activity was behind all the "random" murders would've eased public fears better than the strategy of assuming the attacks and such are random or isolated incidents despite their repetitive nature.

In fact, you could argue that gangs should be addressed in private schools because gangs are in Greenville. Big, well-known gangs. Private school students DO live in the area and many of their families will likely stay there after the kid's gone to college.

The anonymous writer only assumes that gangs are "far removed from their everyday life," yet the societal influence criminal activity carries DOES affect everyday life. People are leaving the city, taking their taxes and removing the floor on which housing prices would at least rest instead of decline. By the way, governments raise YOUR taxes when I take mine out of the area.

Crime is SO prevalent that your local politicians deny (and have denied) that it's a problem. Artman contributed to this mindsight as one of many community leaders. I think he HAD to paint the rosy picture from a political standpoint. There was no other choice. The folks that backed his candidacies wouldn't admit or wouldn't realize the "real" world as it pertains to Washington County. Believe in those bumper stickers that popped up a few years ago!

Crime is SO prevalent that it's bred an infection of apathy among law enforcement and from the taxpayers who should demand a whole lot more. Cops aren't super-heroes. If they feel overwhelmed, they'll join the other team or avoid the "fight." Who wouldn't?

Crime has created a local society where white folks in Leland can build their own little neighborhood that's the equivalent of "circling the wagons" - only the wagons are set on slabs. Poor folks who dream of safety can't afford to do anything but stay outta the way of fists, bullets and burglars.

And topping it all...the cultural influence of gangs and crime fosters helplessness. Helplessness covers many issues and takes root in the psyche of good people.

To Anonymous: Thanks for making me think tonight.

To Forthright: A wonderful choice for publishing a guest article and a solid, well-reasoned reply.

Thank you both!

Anonymous said...

If you want to worry about gangs, you better worry about the the biggest gang in the Delta, Their name is "100 Black men of the Delta".

Anonymous said...

Mission Accomplished!! Since Coach Brady landed the new job of principal of Greenville-Weston, letters to the editor have stopped about Superintendent Taplin.