Random flotsam from the shattered windmills of my mind

Me, architecture, history, politics, Washington D.C., photography, Cleveland

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new year
A teenage boy was shot at the Anacostia Metro -- my Metro station -- late Saturday evening.

A fight between two small groups of African American teenagers started on a Green Line train. The groups boarded at Gallery Place (a popular spot of black teens to hang out in D.C. these days, although there's nothing there for them...just that Time Square atmosphere). They began arguing and then throwing punches. One group tried to exit at Anacostia, and the fight continued on the platform.

Then someone drew a gun.

An adult (e.g., he was 19) was arrested at the scene. The victim's injuries are not life-threatening.

This happens all the time in my area, unfortunately. Friday evening, I was riding Metro home about 6 p.m. Two giirls about 14 years old were in the rear compartment looking like they'd been through a tornado. Both were heavily scratched. They bragged to one another about having just participated in a knife-fight with a 19 year old girl who returned to their middle-school because she has friends there (I know, too weird). One had a huge chunk of her hair pulled out. They thought it was funny. Everyone else was sickened.

The level of gang activity in my rises and falls. Lately, it's been on a serious increase. The "Choppa City" gang was broken by the police after a year-long investigation. For a year, things were quiet. Now this "Vietnam and 17th NE" gang (who knows what the fuck that name means) is active in the area, marking their "territory" with permanent markers like dogs do trees.

Half of all black teens in D.C. drop out of school before high school. Another 20 percent drop out during high school. Only 10 percent go to college. Only one in three black men in my neighborhood will hold any kind of job in his life (temporary, part-time, full-time). Of those, only one in three will ever hold a full-time job.

When one-sixth of your black adult males will hold down a full-time job ever in his life, you may as well act like a rabid animal. Why not? You have nothing else to live for.

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(Deleted comment)
"All blacks are violent"? Hardly!

I live in Anacostia, in a building which (other than me) has two white boys in it -- both Jehovah's Witnesses (which is why they are here, not because they want to be). Nearly everyone in my building is terrific! My floor has great neighbors, the two teenagers next door come over when they get locked out by accident, and I don't mind rowdy.

But poverty exacts its toll, wouldn't you agree? And where I live (which is one neighborhood of D.C., which is all I can speak to), that poverty is extreme. A recent visitor to the city -- a member of the Obama campaign -- was so horrified at the extreme poverty in Anacostia that she compared it to a Third World slum. She would be right.

One of the effects of poverty is hopelessness. Another is rage. Combined, those effects turn those afflicted with extreme poverty into near-psychotics. Some survive it; some geniuses even thrive under such conditions, and emerge to be great scientists, thinkers, artists, leaders. But those exceptions prove the rule, and cannot be used to justify doing nothing about the extreme poverty here.

I know a lot of the younger black men in my building. I've lived here in my building nearly five years, and almost none of them have held jobs. I can see the changes in nearly all of them: Increasing rage, increasing gang-related behavior, increasing levels of violence. Some of them have taken gunshots at their best friends, for nothing more than having accidentally stepped on a foot (scuffing their "prison whites") or for kissing a girl.

And it's not African Americans, either. The Asians, the Latinos -- if they're extremely poor, the hopelessness and despair hits them, too. (Of the Caucasians in this neighborhood, which are very very few, most of them are middle-class and elderly. There are some deaf students from Gallaudet living around here, due to the very low rents. And they're all middle-class or lower-middle-class.)

Extreme poverty turns anyone into an animal. I live in a 99 percent black neighborhood, and the extreme poverty is destroying my neighbors.

What galls me is that no one wants to do anything about it.

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