Archive for October 5, 2011

*If they look the part and live in the right places…

First, I gotta say, you make three posts in a row involving firearms and I guess people start to look at ya funny.  So today, no firearms, and back to some posting I promised.  So yeah, let’s get on with that then, shall we?

It was prolly more than a month ago I read an article about a program up in NYC that had been set up to help out disadvantage/at risk young men- you know, provide them with choices other than crime and gangs and drugs and such.  It seemed that the focus group of this program was Latino males age 12 to about 20.  And I am not going to poo-poo such things, I think if we are gonna spend money on programs,  any sorta program that helps kids and young adults avoid trouble is a good thing.   Yet still, reading about this program, for young Latino males, in NYC, stuck this little hook  in my brain, and it would not go away.

So I started digging around, looking into this sort of thing, these kinds of programs, finding out more about them:  where they were, who they were for, how they were run, who paid for ’em, things of that nature.  Results of that digging?    Well, results have lead me to believe that we, as a society, seek to help our most disadvantaged and at risk so long as they look the part and and live in the right places.  You see, a  great majority of these programs are in large cities, are geared towards black and hispanic populations, and tend to be far more prevelant for young men/boys than for young women/girls.    Many are government funded, others are private and rely on donations from the public (often a few very wealthy folk)- which may play into why they are mostly in cities, after all, the government tends to pay more attention to big cities (more money, more businesses, more voters, so on), and well, big cities also tend to have more folk wealthy enough to donate to/fund private run organizations of this nature.  If you look around, there are plenty of these sorts of programs in places like NYC, LA, Pheonix, Chicago, Philly, San Diego, Dallas,  Atlanta, Miami, so on…BIG CITIES .  You even find them in not so giant metropolisis like Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Buffalo, so on.  But they are, without a doubt, a city thing, and geared towards a certain section of society: boys and young men who are black or Latino.  Heck, even in NYC, it is far easier for a man to find a bed in a homeless shelter than a woman…after all, many times women have children with them, and shit, that gets expensive!

So, then I did some more digging and found some interesting stats, and really, not a lot in the way of programs, government funding, private funding, or even mere interest in such problems for these issues- at all-in the actual areas where they ARE issues!  Aside from downgrading these folk as not important enough to HAVE programs…  For Instance:

The States with the Highest Rates of Teen Pregnancy Are:

Nevada
Arizona
Mississippi
New Mexico
Texas
Florida
California
Georgia
North Carolina
Arkansas

Hummm, you notice a theme there?  Aside from maybe California & Texas, and maybe Florida?  Which are  HUGE states full of cities, but also gotta ton of rural areas too. Oh yeah, and well, pregnancy happens to…females…

How about Unemployment?  I mean, this is an issue everyone can prolly agree is a big issue.  And these programs address it a lot, providing people with job skills and work ethic and alternatives to crime and all those things…programs that seek to empower young men, and to a lesser degree, young women, to enter and be a productive part of the work force.  And yeah, well all know the economy is crap, but…

States with the Highest Unemployment Rates are:

Nevada
California
Michigan
South Carolina
Washington DC*  (district, not a state, but it’s up there anyway)
Florida
Rhode Island
North Carolina
Mississippi
Georgia

Once again, Cali on this list,  FL and even DC too, but humm, a few over laps there, yeah?

How about the stats on High School Drop Outs?  That one might play into this whole deal too, yeah? That putting young adults and kids into disadvantaged/ at risk zones?  So here we go for that one, states and stats style:

States with the Highest Drop Out Rates:

Nevada
North Carolina
South Carolina
New Mexico
Louisiana
Georgia
Florida
Alabama
Mississippi
California

Then I even kind of took a different tack, since I am sort of on the subject of at risk and disadvantaged… so how about suicide rates?  I mean, for someone to kill themselves, shit has gotta be pretty dire I reckon.  As a general rule, one is gotta be pretty dang depressed and lookin’ at a glass that is more than half empty to take themselves out…so, I looked into that. First thing that caught my eye is the leading group of folk who off themselves is white men, followed by white women.   But lets look at the states and stats on that one too:

State Stats for Suicide:

Alaska
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Wyoming
Colorado
Idaho
West Virgina
Utah
Oregon

Hell, look at  that, Nevada for the win, or lose as it may be!

And then I looked into some other stuff, watched some documentaries on the History Channel, the Health Channel, A&E, things of that nature, where I learned that well, it’s not LA, or NY, or Boston or Chicago where drug use rates are jumping through the roof.  It’s…Ohio.  Where the abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin use has hit afterburner levels of increase.  Ohio.  Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas- dramatic increase in the use of everything from methamphetamine to heroin (and most prevalent amid white folk).  Alcoholism?  Very big deal in places like Alaska,  Nevada (again), Wyoming and North Dakota- and seemingly most prevalent amid white folk and Native American folk.   Oh, and for the record, the state with the highest rate of illiteracy is Mississippi I do believe.  And you know what I noticed?

None of these places are NYC,  and no one, from the government to private citizens, are paying too much attention or spending too much money trying to, oh…fix this? Help out?  Do shit to help these disadvantaged or at risk people?  Now, I had my resident Devil’s Advocate suggest the reason for this is because well, the government is focusing on trying to keep young men and boys outta gangs and turn ’em into productive citizens…to wit I responded, the widely regarded most dangerous gang in, oh, the world? MS-13.  Whose  US headquarters are in…ahem…Manassas Va.  Not LA, not NYC, not Chicago, or Detroit, or Phoenix, or Dallas.  Yep, right here in good ole Manassas Va.   And ya know, Manassas is not swimmin’ in the programs designed to keep kids from going bad, and it ain’t a big city either.   And the world does not begin and stop, alpha and omega style, with young men who are at risk for joining gangs, yet there seems to be very little out there for anyone other than them.  I also noticed, well, not to much interest at all in stopping white dudes, Asians, Native Americans,  or…gasp…women/girls from joining gangs (and they do, believe it or not-all those groups of people in our society have/join/belong to gangs!)

I am also big on playing Devil’s Advocate myself, but I honestly think this time, it ain’t the Devil’s Due I am advocating.  I dunno if people need to yell at their congressmen, or rich folk in town, or speak with their votes, or go to their churches, or what…but damn.  Look at those stats y’all.  Nevada sounds like one of Dante’s Circles of Hell as far as this shit goes, and (ahem) so do states like Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, so on.  States that are not necessarily swimming in big cities or big money (casinos aside for NV).  I mean hell, NY is not on a single ONE of those stat lists.  Nor is Illinois!  You know, where NYC and Chicago are!  And you know…cause you can bet I noticed it, a lot of these states on this here list (not all, but many), they are the American West/ Southwest and the South.  And with the exceptions of Texas, Cali, and Florida?  Not swimming in cash, or…voters.  And it leads me to wonder…why is someones son or daughter -black, brown, white, yellow, mixed, or any other thing, in a NYC or Chicago or LA or any other big city area more deserving of help, of assistance, of programs than someones son or daughter in Nevada, or Georgia, or Mississippi?  Or anywhere else for that matter?  Why are people who are more at risk for joining gangs or what not taking almost universal precedent over folk who are at risk for dropping out, getting pregnant, having no job, or, well, killin’ themselves?  IMHO, they aren’t.   And while I am pretty far from a yay government- funded social programs for everyone kinda gal, it seems to me if we are going to have them, at all, we need to spread that love around- make it an equal thing, with shit out there and available to folk in urban and rural areas, for women and men, and for folk of all colors…because damn, it looks like Nevada could use a program like the one I read about in NYC a hell of a lot more than NYC could.

I think it comes down to a couple things, really.  Votes prolly has something do to with it….but I also think we, in the US, have poster child-ed (yeah, I made it up) a very specific type of person  (young black or Latino male) as our most disadvantaged and at risk members of society.  That imagine is not accurate, and not representative, and in fact, probably pretty dangerous all around for everyone.   A dude who fits that image is no more at risk or disadvantaged than a pregnant sixteen year old girl in Mississippi or a drug addicted out of work white guy in Nevada…and it is long past fuckin’ time we figured that shit out and used social programs to truly help our most disadvantaged and at risk members- regardless of what they look like or where they live.

* sources:  Suicide Stats, Pregnancy Stats, Unemployment Stats    Drop out stats

Television and other media: Words Most Dangerous Drug (Discovery), Heroin in the Heartland (Oxygen), American Meth (History),  Drugs in America (Discovery Health), The Worlds Most Dangerous Gang (Discovery),  Intervention Special: Epidemics- Florida, Ohio, Nevada (A&E) , Gangland: MS-13, Gangland: Gangster Girls (Discovery).