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Thereís No Random Violence in My Hood

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentaries, Various Authors Posted: Apr 11, 2009

Editor's Note: Young people from the Bay Area's toughest neighborhoods respond to the recent violent rampage across the nation -- nearly 60 murders in the past few weeks -- of mostly "random" shooting deaths. But when violence is a part of your everyday existence, what exactly does "random violence" mean? These writers are interns for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia and The Beat Within.

Indifferent to the Violence
In terms of violence, I feel that if it doesnít affect me personally, I donít care about it. When I hear about all these shootings across the nation, Iím indifferent, because I donít know those people and they donít know me. Iíve had friends in the past who were living wrong or grimy, and they got caught up and lost their lives. I donít feel sorry for them, because they knew what they were getting into and they were willing to take that risk and got ďgot.Ē

So, if I donít feel sorry for these people who I did know who lost their lives, why would I care about some people I didnít know who lost theirs?

I think sometimes violence is a random thing, but 50 percent of the time itís planned out. The victims of it are not expecting it to happen to them, basically, they got caught ďslippin'.Ē Itís a dog-eat-dog world.
- Marina Saenz, 17

World is Going Crazy
I feel like the world is going crazy. For one, thereís too many guns out there. Itís so easy to get one if you know the right people. I know little kids that are 15 years old, carrying guns around like toys. The other reason I think thereís so many killings going on is because times have changed. When I was younger, my big homies didnít smoke with us or sell us weed and give us guns to hold. Now that Iím older, people that are my age are the big homies and Ė itís crazy Ė because young homies come to us and ask to buy weed and smoke with us. In 2009, itís crazy because everywhere you go you got to watch what you do, because people will try to start stuff over nothing, just by looking at them too long.

I think violence is a big problem because I got shot when I was only 17 and I didnít even know the person. One year later, my little brother got shot in his butt, but is still alive. You can be anybody to get shot. They always say a bullet donít have a name on it. I know a few people that got shot and died, but they werenít even aiming for them Ė they were just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Some people, they try to prepare themselves for violence by carrying guns around, but that donít do no good because they still get killed and if you get caught, you go to jail for life. So, is it really worth it to me? Itís not.

Iím really not afraid of street violence or random violence. I just think itís really crazy how the world is right now in the hood and in other places, because you donít have to be into nothing for people to try to start something with you.
-Jaquan Rushing, 19

Thereís No Such Thing as Random Violence
With all the violence going on I donít what to think about it. I try not to let it affect me, but it does when it hits close to home, which happens all the time. Just recently, I lost my cousin to street violence in the neighborhood.

In terms of all the violence happening nationwide, itís easy to blame the economy, but Iím not going to do that. Iím going to say people make bad choices during hardship. People are losing their jobs, panicking under pressure and just donít know how to act. I can and canít justify that. All I can say is that itís bad that any circumstances arise where another life (or a few lives for that matter) had to be taken in the process of someoneís rage.

I donít believe in random acts of violence, because I think that if a person commits a crime on a person they donít know, itís simply a problem with them. Homicidal problems are not random. Those who have it in their hearts to kill are not normal. Because at their breaking point, they have no one to turn to. There is a reason for everything Ė maybe not with the victim, but with the violator.

When I wake up, I donít worry so much about these things, because I know I canít stop whatís going to happen to me. I just have to try to stay out of harms way, but you can never do that because it lurks on every corner. There is no preparation for violence, because you never know when itís going to occur. You feel like itís safe maybe when itís not, and to be truthful, itís never safe today in this world because violence strikes at any moment's notice and catches you off guard. So just know that all preparation in the world canít prevent a mad person from being mad.
- Amanzi Emenike, 20

This Violence is Nothing New
There is always a lot of violence, but since now it is police that's getting knocked off, the press is trying to make it seem like thereís just been lots of violence in the last month. But overall, there is always people getting killed, but they really didn't pay any attention to that before because they were gang members.

I think you can prepare yourself for violence by laying low. If youíre out there doing stuff that's hurting people, you better be ready when somebodyís trying to come and get at you with a gun. If you not ready, you just another soul lost. I don't have any reason to be afraid of street violence, because I don't live that lifestyle.
- Ricky Rollins, 17

Thereís No Random Violence in the Hood
Iím not entirely sure why weíve had these recent shootings, but I believe that most of these people are suffering from stress, primarily due to the economy. As a society, we tend to notice a problem but donít act until itís too late, meaning that someone may have known of the shooters' mental illness before the shootings, but kept quiet.

In general, violence is pretty random because we donít have the ability to tell the future, nor can we see what other people are thinking. Itís clear to see that a lot of these shootings were carefully thought out and that these people planned to hurt others Ė that means they are not fully stable. Depression and confusion can lead to irrational thinking over time and during an economic crisis, acts like this are likely to happen. These shootings are not related, but are acts of hurt, anger, self-hatred, and insanity. No one can prepare for violence unless they are the aggressor, but it is societyís job to crack down on it and if we notice any strange behavior, we need to report it.

I am more afraid of street violence than any other violence, because I live in areas near this kind of thing, and police know about it, but ignore it. Random violence happens more in suburban areas than in projects and dangerous city blocks because people in the hood kill each other for territory and money. Also street violence is so common that itís ignored a lot of times in the media unless it involves authority figures.

The fact of the matter is death is death no matter how it was planned, whom it involves, and where it was.
- Sean Shavers, 19

Prepared for Violence
There has been so much violence going on in the past few months, like people just running into a facility with a lot of guns and shooting people.

Growing up when I was young there was so much violence in my area, but my grandmother tried to keep me away from it. I started seeing violence only in my family. My parents were always fighting, siblings would fight, and my cousins would fight with their parents. So violence to me was just another day. But outside, violence like guns and killings was a big deal.

I remember the day I saw a boy get shot. It was a drive by and he got hit just below the belt. I was amazed. I froze up and was just watching the scene. My friend had to pull me and say: ďCome on! Letís go!Ē as we ran. I came to find out that s--t like that happens all the time around here. In fact, it happens so much that I am desensitized to it. When things like that happen, I just think to get away or down not cause I got shot at but because itís a natural reaction.

Thinking of the random acts of violence that's been happening, I donít feel scared for my life. The only person I do fear for is my son. I think that people are turning to these things, because they feel stressed out or pushed in a corner. The economy is all bad right now, and a lot of people are losing their jobs or cannot obtain one, so they just break and go crazy on a killing spree, which ultimately ends up in them kamikazing themselves. I have wondered how it would feel to do something like that. I feel like it would be a rush or a thrill. Of course, I would never do something like that. I have to be a role model for my son. But in a different time zone or in another lifetime, I think I might be a beast and go out like them, taking everyone with me.
- Valerie Klinker, 18

Iím Cautious on the Street
I donít know why there is so much random violence going on in the last month. Maybe it is because of the recession, because when people donít have a lot of money then people have more stress and that makes them do things that they normally wouldnít do.

When I wake up in the morning, I donít necessarily think about random violence, like I donít wake up thinking that someone might come into my work and start shooting. But when I walk out onto the street, then I definitely get more cautious and watch what Iím doing and my surroundings, because you never know when someone's going to try and take your life.
- Chris Tamaru, 19

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