Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tragic Teenager--What's the Meaning of This?

Courtland Milloy writes about a DC teenager:

Any kid from a crime-ridden neighborhood would deserve such a break, but Danny especially so. In 2003, at age 12, he and then-D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey were featured in an anti-violence public service video. Five of Danny's relatives had been shot and killed.

"Enough is enough," was the rallying cry. Flash-forward to April. Danny had teamed up with D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to announce the kickoff of yet another violence-awareness program, this one featuring anti-gun posters on the sides of buses. By then, however, Danny had lost six more relatives to gun violence, a total of 11: his father, a grandfather, two uncles, two nieces and five cousins.

I suspect everyone will read into this what they wish. The futility of public outcry, the depravity of the area in which he lives, the low value put on life, the free access to guns even though they're outlawed in DC, perhaps even a question of how many people Danny's relatives have killed over the years. Regardless of all that, Danny himself deserves better, everyone deserves better.

But what strikes me, with an admittedly aging and quirky mind, is his connectedness. It seems that all these relatives live in DC (that's my assumption anyway). That seems odd to me, but yet it fits with other articles and books I've read about the inner city: people seem often to have loads of relatives and friends. It's almost tribal society, as in parts of Iraq or Afghanistan--you know a lot of people and it's important to know them--who does what, what will p**s someone off, who can help, who will hurt. It seems a far cry from some areas of suburbia, where people don't know their neighbor. Is this connectedness a part of the pathology?

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