// Thoughts On Crime

I’ve lived in a relatively small town for the past 18 years. It’s a place that looks charming and beckons people to visit. It’s quite beautiful. It’s been documented in many books and been in many movies. People have written songs about it and flock here every year. But there is a darker side to this seemingly quaint and quiet Southern town.

Crime is very high. Being a college town, there are plenty of potential targets for would-be thieves. The college, a prestigious private art university, attracts students from around the globe. This equates to “a bunch of rich kids” around here. A fact that is not entirely accurate; I attended this same school and was far from a “rich kid.” But this poses a problem. These kids are held up at gunpoint a lot of the time. It seems that this is the only way the perpetrators of these crimes know how to operate. There is no etiquette. They have no charisma. Most of them think of themselves as tough or in control. That they are, by some stretch of the imagination, a man. They are wrong.

Going around and wagging guns at scared kids doesn’t make you tough. It definitely doesn’t make you a man. It does make you one thing; a fucking coward. Any mother would be ashamed to call someone like that a son, much less a man.

They are out there; these so-called men. Lurking in the shadows, waiting for a group of defenseless kids, or accosting a mother who’s trying to carry groceries into her house; busting through peoples’ doors, demanding things they have no right to.

All I know is that everyone should be on the lookout. Take precautions to protect yourselves. Be smart about where you go and what you do. Anything can happen. There is darkness in all this beauty.

JHS

// Shot By A Black Guy: Am I Mad?

Racism and intolerance are rampant in America these days. It seems every time I turn on the television someone is bashing someone else, whether it be based on religion, sexual preference, race, gender, or just plain jealousy. It’s rather sickening.

I was shot in the neck—at point-blank range—by a couple of young black men in a predominantly white neighborhood. The shooter and his partner had chosen this particular street for a reason: a “perceived wealth” of its (mostly) white inhabitants. An incorrect notion (I didn’t live in the neighborhood; I was visiting a friend, and was by no means wealthy) that changed not only my life, but theirs as well (the two were later apprehended, tried and convicted to lengthy prison terms).

Does this mean I should hate all young black men? If the perpetrators of the crime had been a pair of young white men would it have made a difference? No, the outcome would be the same. I’d still be paralyzed from the chest down; a quadriplegic. Understandably, I could dwell on the fact that the duo was black and hate them for it, but why? In fact, I’m almost sorry they were black. It only serves to perpetuate the myth that all young black men are, indeed, thugs. This is far from the case. To condemn an entire race based on the actions of two misguided kids would be a tragedy… for me.

It’s easy to be against something. It’s easy to hate things (including people) we are not accustomed to. It’s easy to ignore major problems such as discrimination or flat-out racism. It’s hard, though, to face facts, rethink, open up and get involved with people that may not fit into our “normal” comfort zones. It’s hard to swallow our pride and allow change into our hearts and minds. It is, however, very important that we try to do just that. If not, understanding and acceptance can’t exist in this world we share. And we do share it, whether we like it or not. Maybe we will all get it right one day. I guess time will tell.

JHS