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Shifts must be cultural

By   /   August 31, 2012  /   Comments Off

Once again, we see gang violence make headlines.  Some might want to blame the news media, arguing that we are casting Albany in a poor light.  Well, don’t blame us.  We have an obligation to report news.  Like it or not, this stuff is actually news.

People have a right to know what’s going on in their community, and we have an obligation to report it. Trust me, no journalist I know in this town likes reporting about the death of anyone.  We’re just not wired that way.  We simply do it, because that is what we’re expected to do.

However, I have an opportunity that many of my colleagues don’t.  I get to share my opinions as well. I get to share my ideas on what we can do as a community to make things better.

First, I’m going to tell folks to stop blaming the police.  The Albany Police Department isn’t without its problems, and those can be discussed until the cows come home.  It won’t matter.  There is only so much law enforcement can do

What needs to be done must be cultural.  Take a look at the “culture” some of these kids grow up with.  Movies and music that glorifies violence and a lack of respect for the law and the rights of others helps to shape young minds.  Parents that simply don’t care often times makes the situation worse.  The final nail in the coffin is that many of our neighborhoods are the recruiting grounds for these gangs.

Make no mistake folks, the kids who join these gangs don’t think that they’re screwing their lives up.  They honestly believe that wearing Bloods red or Crips blue or Rattlers yellow is a mark of pride.  They don’t think, “I’m throwing my life away.”  They think, “Now I am someone!”

For there to be meaningful change, we have to combat that.  I can sit here and type until my finger bleed, but it won’t really change anything.  It’s going to take the respected members of the community who live in these neighborhoods – and yes, there are people who are both worthy of respect and live in these neighborhoods – to start engaging these kids early.

We need these community leaders to tell this kids what the result of being in a gang can be, and how there are better options.  We need business leaders to help provide some of these better options.  We need our governmental leaders to help we , the business owners, provide better options.

Gangs can be beaten, but they can’t be beaten without a coordinated effort.  We must quit looking at skin color and start understanding that we’re all in this together. Some people who could be doing this are instead wasting time on Quixotic quests to run for office despite their own mistakes in the process, rather than actually doing something that can make a real difference in our community.

How about we make sure that my headlines become pretty boring for a change?  Let’s let them be about car washes and bake sales, rather than shootings and murder. You know, just for kicks.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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