Gang Violence: How it is separating the black youth

#1

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This is a project created by Ryan Robillard for ENG 238 African American Literature, Pre-1945 at Elon University (Spring 2015), taught by Dr. Crystal Anderson. It is a conversation between two African American writers who discuss a contemporary issue.  This dialogue gives students an opportunity to engage in close reading and relate literary texts to contemporary ideas.  

Authors: Alain Locke and Eric Walrond

Issue: Gang violence

Alain Locke: “Walrond, we may both agree on how important this issue is, however, I believe that my view on how to resolve it is more effective as well as more realistic. I am a firm believer in the community coming together and participating in groups as well as raising group incentives and how it may pertain to leadership in our community. Currently in Chicago, gang violence has divided parts of the city making it so that the black youth is unable to connect with each other; more or less dividing them into different groups, or gangs. At the center of this divide is the music that drives much of the violence. It is a form of rap music that is extremely violent and inappropriate and the musicians at the center of it all have gang relations. We both know that the music of the Harlem Renaissance was looked at by many whites as inappropriate. I believe that these musicians and young adults are not well enough educated, and don’t understand that they are holding themselves back. I know as well that we also need to work on the outside perspective and attitude towards the black youth. “Subtly the conditions that are molding the New Negro are molding a new American perspective (978)”. The youth need to learn to coexist and not resort to violence, in order to do this we must work on education as a starting point to allow the youth to learn more about what they are doing as well as let the general public see that steps are being taken.

Eric Walrond: Locke, I do agree with you that gang violence is a very big dilemma. I don’t agree, however, that simply education is the way out of this mess. From working with Marcus Garvey on many different projects and magazines, I have picked up on some of his tactics and beliefs. Education is important, however, it should not be the first step in fixing Chicago’s problem. First the community needs to be united. Having division among neighborhoods makes it so many of these teenagers have not ever left their street; through fear of death or harm they stay where they live with the people they trust. This is a big issue because if you never leave one place you will not know what the rest has to offer. Not only this but the African American youth needs to learn that they are killing their brothers. I do however realize that the White American view of the black youth must change if progress is to be made in this situation. Instead of looking on and thinking that there is no hope, they need to look deeper into the situation and try to understand it. “It was all a bit vague to the whites on the deck, and an amused chuckle floated down to the boys (1259)”. In “The Wharf Rats” I describe a scene of white on lookers watching some young black boys playing a game, which they do not understand. Since they don’t understand and could not relate to the children they simply laughed and kept on with their day. While this is much different than gang violence, I think that we first need to start but uniting the youth and helping to make a better view from the outside white America.

 

#2

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This is a project created by Ryan Robillard for ENG 238 African American Literature, Pre-1945 at Elon University (Spring 2015), taught by Dr. Crystal Anderson. It is a conversation between two African American writers who discuss a contemporary issue.  This dialogue gives students an opportunity to engage in close reading and relate literary texts to contemporary ideas.  

Authors: Alain Locke and Langston Hughes

Issue: Gang Violence

Alain Locke: “Langston, gang violence in America is one of the biggest issues currently. It accounts for many of the gun related deaths in America and is tearing apart the black youth. This is causing America to have a negative view on the black youth and reversing everything we worked for and everything I spoke about in “The New Negro”. “For Generations in the mind of America, the Negro has been more of a formula than a human being” (974). If these trends continue America will look at the black youth as something that is a liability as opposed to a group. I know you believe this can be done and I agree with you in saying that white America needs to see the black youth in the same light that they do with the white youth. This problem needs to be addressed and solved or else I fear that it will get much worse.

Langston Hughes: “Alain, this is an extremely important issue and it is something that is not changing overnight. I believe that in order to make white America view the black youth differently gang violence must be stopped. I believe that this can’t be done until white Americans can see black Americans as a brother instead of the other. There seems to still be a line between whites in blacks because of the way that blacks are shown in media and news. “I am your son, white man! A little yellow Bastard boy” (1310). I agree with what you said about the black youth being seen as a liability. This is something that definitely needs to be changed because it causes many people to have a negative first impression. However, something must be done about how the black youth is portrayed in the media and on the news.

 

#3

gun violence

 

This is a project created by Ryan Robillard for ENG 238 African American Literature, Pre-1945 at Elon University (Spring 2015), taught by Dr. Crystal Anderson. It is a conversation between two African American writers who discuss a contemporary issue.  This dialogue gives students an opportunity to engage in close reading and relate literary texts to contemporary ideas.  

Authors: Alain Locke and Langston Hughes

Issue: Gang Violence 

Langston: “Alain, I think that gun control is an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It is extremely easy for a teen or young adult in the inner city to acquire a gun because they are everywhere. Not only is it easy for them to get these weapons but once they have them there is no way to tell how many are on the streets and who possess them. I also think that it is not the Negro himself who causes this violence and who kills others. Rather it is what our society has made the Negro to be and the circumstances that are all around them. “It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age. But I guess im what I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you” (1320). If you don’t know any better you will become what is around you.

Alain Locke: “Langston, part of the issue behind gang violence is gun control. Although I do believe that it is not the gun that kills rather the person behind it, this is still a major issue. Part of this issue is that regulation of guns in American cities is not what it needs to be. This is something that affects the black youth greatly because if there are people with guns that want to kill you, that make’s it seem like you need a gun for protection and it’s a vicious cycle. “Therefore the Negro today wishes to be known for what he is, even in his faults and shortcomings” (978). I agree with you that this cycle is not the representation of the Negro himself but rather the person with his back against the wall that fears for his life. That is not who the real Negro is, it is what he is made to be.

#4

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This is a project created by Ryan Robillard for ENG 238 African American Literature, Pre-1945 at Elon University (Spring 2015), taught by Dr. Crystal Anderson. It is a conversation between two African American writers who discuss a contemporary issue.  This dialogue gives students an opportunity to engage in close reading and relate literary texts to contemporary ideas.  

Authors: Alain Locke and Langston Hughes

Issue: Gang Violence

Langston Hughes: “Alain, another thing that seems to be a problem with gangs in general is the affect they have on the younger generations. Kids look up to these gangsters because in the ghettos there is nothing else to look up to. If you see people in a large group that appear to be friends who have money and power in a place where it is scarce, you will likely be interested in joining. The fear of death will make people come together and that is why these young children are drawn to gangs, because it seems like the only way out. “Dear Lovely Death That taketh all things under wing- only to change” (1312). In my poem Dear Lovely Death I talk about how the fear of death will cause you to find a mentor or someone to take you under their wing. This is effectively what gangs do for young children.

Alain Locke: In many cities where gang violence is a problem it tends to be an area that is stricken by poverty. In many cities of this sort there are a high amount of single mothers raising families by themselves. For young men this can be especially tough because there is no male authoritative figure to teach them what it means to be a man. This makes it extremely more likely that young kids will look for this authority on the streets through gangs. However I disagree with you in thinking that these children have no other way of getting out of these situations. “It is the “man farthest down” who is the most active in getting up” (976). If someone is oppressed and held down without resources there is a chance that they will join gangs, this is true. However, I feel that it is these same young children who have the power to become something great.

 

#5

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This is a project created by Ryan Robillard for ENG 238 African American Literature, Pre-1945 at Elon University (Spring 2015), taught by Dr. Crystal Anderson. It is a conversation between two African American writers who discuss a contemporary issue.  This dialogue gives students an opportunity to engage in close reading and relate literary texts to contemporary ideas.  

Authors: Alain Locke and Langston Hughes

Issue: Gang Violence

Alain Locke: “Langston, from all that has been said I believe that I know how to stop the negative view of the black youth as well as gang violence. “One may adequately describe the Negro’s “Inner objectives” as an attempt to repair a damaged group psychology and reshape a warped social perspective” (978). The black youth must make a conscious effort to obtain the resources that they are given. Although the education systems are not up to par in many urban cities, the youth must take advantage of whatever education they can. By taking advantage of education white America will see that the black youth is serious about change. Once education becomes a priority there will be less teens and young adults on the streets, which will decrease the amount of violence. This will not work for all of the current black youth who is involved in gangs, however, it will help the younger generations.

Langston Hughes: “Alain, I believe that the key to stopping gang violence as well as the negative stereotypes associated with the black urban youth also lay within education but also positive role models. Many kids who end up joining gangs come from broken families with no one to look up to. “So boy, don’t turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard. Don’t you fall now- For I’se still climbing’, And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (1305). I think that the lack of male role models in urban cities is a problem that can’t be fixed immediately, however, education is something that is a bit easier. It will not be easy to get current gang members into the education system but something must be done to keep the younger generations in school.

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