What a Tragedy

Posted: March 5, 2008 in Crime/Violence

Six found dead in house on Lester : Local News : Commercial Appeal

When something tragic like this happens, there is plenty of blame to go around but very little accountability. Suburbanites love to blame the victim unless it happens to one of their own; like we saw with the horrific events at Virginia Tech. Keep in mind that violence does not discriminate. This isn’t just an “inner city” problem. It is everyone’s problem. The children who died and those at Le Bonheur did nothing to deserve such a dreadful fate. It disappoints me that so many Memphians show so little empathy when events such as this occur.

Moreover, the inevitable response to this tragedy will likely be equally disturbing. Suffering in Memphis represents a commodity for the media, academics, government, and yes some churches. Like we’ve seen with so many problems in Memphis, there will be special newspaper issues, public summits, prayer vigils, reinvention of old programs, and maybe an ordinance or two. There will be lots of solutions, lots of wallowing around in self righteous indignation but very little real action. The prayer vigils probably represent the most honorable and perhaps most effectual attempt to address the issue. Unfortunately too many groups benefit from inner city problems not being resolved. Academics get grants and proclaim themselves experts who travel around the country telling others how effectively they are ending crime in Memphis. These are the same academics who are frightened to go in to the neighborhoods that they are supposedly helping. Newspapers and television stations will get awards for their ground breaking and insightful coverage. Ironically, much of the coverage will focus on the achievements of the aforementioned academics. New community agencies will be established and others will secure more funding for their efforts. All the while the violence continues, more children suffer, people flee the city, and politicians prosper. Memphis might benefit from a radically different approach. How about actually listening to rather than condemning the victims?

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