is this news?

mathu alerted me to yesterday's ny times article on ny killings, by the numbers. it notes that there were 540 homicides last year, though only 519 were committed last year; the other 21 were deaths were initiated by a homicide attempt that occurred in years prior.
...at any rate, the article states some facts that feel redundant, yet important to note:
- men and boys were responsible for 93 percent of the murders
- they killed with guns about two-thirds of the time
- their victims tended to be other men and boys
- and in more than half the cases, the killer and the victim knew each other

these are important facts because they, along with recent data published by the bureau of justice statistics indicate that non-white, non-asian - and more specifically, black - males experience the greatest number of deaths due to homicide. the BJS also notes that especially among young, black males, ages 18-24, have the highest "homicide victimization rates," and often at the hands of other young, black males.

what becomes of utmost important at this point in the conversation is what we do with this information. that is, do we treat these numbers as self-fulfilling prophecies? do attribute experiences to identity - that is, how are the identities of young, black males (re)positioned in light of this information? if i read this article as a teacher would i fall into the practices of many of the teachers in ann arnette ferguson's study whose assumptions about who the black boys might become paralyzed them from taking seriously their roles as educators who might engage in intellectual partnership with their students?

on wednesday, as i was leaving a talk given by edmund gordon held at iume, i was accompanied by an older, african american woman who also attended the talk and was looking for company on the walk back to campus. as we walked, we reflected on some of what gordon had brought up, namely the continued inequitable educational circumstances of many children who are underserved (and, i would argue, who lives are underrepresented in the political rhetoric surrounding education). as we turned onto amesterdam avenue, she wondered out loud if the crisis call surrounding the disproportionate numbers of african american and latino young men who are incarcerated would still exist if the 9 to 1 (versus white males) incarceration rate were reversed. "wouldn't they just find a solution," she mused.

i understand that the ny times and the bjs and the ojjdp have to report "the facts" - by government contract they are legally required to, but so, too, by public opinion are they obligated to do so. however, it is the the combination of complacency and lack of creative thinking surrounding the interconnected realities of mass incarceration, atrocious school buildings and classroom conditions, lowered or non-existent or deficit expectations by teachers, and the rapidly bifurcating of the economy into high tech and service sector jobs.

when 9, 13, and 16 year olds, alike, consistenly claim that their teachers or other adults don't like them, don't understand them and that they don't like school or care about anything, it isn't merely childhood or teenage angst; it is a window into this web of realities that has become rapidly monolithic in stature. but if we look closer, this monolith is really comprised of several small decisions such as the one to give cyrus the benefit of the doubt when he doesn't have an answer ready; or the act of believing that a group of kids joking and having fun with each other in front of their home are doing just that; or giving angel the chance to convey his responses through his drawing, not necessarily to limit him but to give him an entry into the conversation, as well...

is this news? i'm not sure. but so long as small moments and individual decisions continue be overlooked by large brushstroke policies and unthinking mandates, i suppose i'll keep being redundant.

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