Saturday, December 9, 2017

Odds are Loaded

 Last night the news here in Nashville did a special on the gun deaths this year in the area and up 51% from the year before.  A record number of deaths are juveniles but they are also a record number of those arrested for crimes with an average of 15 a day being charged from such victimless crimes as truancy to felony crimes such as murder.  

I work in the public schools and I said that the day I was afraid of kids is the day I need to quit, that day has come and gone and I cannot wait to do the same.  I am about at the halfway mark for dental surgery and had another procedure yesterday moving me closer to the end date.  I cannot come soon enough.

This week I wrote about my encounter at Overton and then two days later I did a half day and experienced a similar set of issues that gave me a headache from hell.  I could not stress enough how embarrassed I felt when a Teacher who I was sharing the room with witnessed a young black male's introduction to me.   I had just complemented the Teacher on an interesting lesson and that he had great command of the classroom, which I meant as frankly I see so little of it I wanted to have some positivism in what largely is not a positive situation when it comes to schools in Nashville.  The young man entered the room asked where the Coach/Teacher was, I informed him at a meeting and then began the weird.  I don't shake hands, do any funny fun gestures as I used to in Seattle as I did not feel unsafe or that it would set a tone that would confuse the kids.  I don't shake hands as we are in the middle of a flu epidemic already and as I make a living off others illness it pays that I don't get sick and I find it repugnant to then immediately after shaking someones hand coating it in useless anti bacterial wash.  So I just say kids don't do hands as they are germ labs times ten.  Most get it but Black kids don't. They are sure it is racial.    He did not go there, yet.  He wanted to hug, bump, touch whatever.   Again in the current climate boundaries I don't have few, I have many.    I said I am from the North we do not touch children at all.   He struggled with that the other Teacher said, "Hey she was clear with what she does and does not want, let it go."  He could not and would not and this went on for the rest of the class.   Watch kid I don't do it with anyone!  But instead of Seattle's throwing the race card down which they do with impunity and it works, Seattle is laden with what I can now say is nowhere near the reason for guilt/shame over racial issues,  the kids here go, discrimination.   I said, "Sir if you feel my not being familial or by my boundary touching issues is that call the office, inform them of your allegations and charges and then I can leave while they investigate my character and we can subpoena the other Teacher as a witness as to what I said, how I said and why I said it." He rambled away but also on. This went on for over an hour and finally launched into a discussion about being freaky and how not to get people in trouble by keeping your dick in your pants. 

Once again I walked into the hall and got a Teacher.  By that time another young black man friend of this kid was in the class, I asked him to leave, he said he was a student.  Funny I don't turn in the roll anymore there after the other day and still had it on my desk.  I go which student are you on this list and he stood mum.  The Teacher took him out and instructed my verbose friend to do what I ask.  Again the same facial expression crossed his face that had crossed the young woman who called me a bitch before as if they could not believe I was offended or even aware of any of this.  Again, invisible.

For the remaining 30 or so minutes he was fairly quiet.  One young black girl was sound asleep and two white girls kept a running commentary with the same black kid the entire time. So while the Teacher this time did not ask me "What color are they?" I made notes and actually had a roster and when I took attendance I starred the names I felt may be a problem when I observed their behavior upon coming into class.  This is what has become, waiting for Guffman if Guffman was an angry youth.  I had already screamed at boys from the Kurdish group to get out of the class at lunch as they were not to be in here with me a Substitute.  I finally came up with that "rule" as another way of protecting myself.  So now I am down to not trusting, liking Students, noting colors, keeping lists and making up rules and screaming at the top of my lungs to keep them away from me.  Think it is time to go? 

Poverty. Poverty.  And only once during last nights special did they mention that much of the violence is centered on economics.  The most dangerous Public Housing project, Cayce Homes, is undergoing a massive reconstruction to attempt to counter the violence.  I have said that much of this poverty is almost always connected to the large and spread out public housing projects that exist in this city.  Seattle had one centrally located, purchased by Paul Allen and is undergoing immense redevelopment.  And it had nowhere near the level of violence that these same type of projects have here.  It is like Chicago and it is no surprise that is are largest migrant group moving into the region. I live between two - Edgehill and Napier - and they too are laden with problems.  The way I suspect they are planning to move the Edgehill homes out is by food wasteland.  The local mini mart is closed and for many residents that was the sole place they could access food.  The reality is that the 8 Bus could take them to the Kroger about a mile away and yet even access by bus is near impossible as that is how poor they are, they cannot afford the fares.  

I am not sure what to say but this article below explains the affects that poverty have on communities.  The reality is that I see it everyday in the faces of Children. The Teachers are simply so brow beaten and exhausted that I can say nothing.  They too are complicit in this arrangement long on making and by design to ensure that the marginalized remain on the margins.  And the reality is that for many this has been something that they know no difference and in turn are resigned to the state of affairs as they are and to them change is a warning and not something welcome. Which explains when I do point this out the welcome mat is rescinded. They don't like the truth here it hurts and stuff.  Uh, it hurts a lot less than guns but hey you do what you gotta do I guess.



The surprising factors driving murder rates: income inequality and respect

Inequality predicts homicide rates ‘better than any other variable’, says an expert – and it is linked to a highly developed concern for one’s own status

           ‘If your social reputation in that milieu is all you’ve got, you’ve got to defend it.’

Maia Szalavitz
Guardian UK
Friday 8 December 2017

A 17-year-old boy shoots a 15-year-old stranger to death, apparently believing that the victim had given him a dirty look. A Chicago man stabs his stepfather in a fight over whether his entry into his parents’ house without knocking was disrespectful. A San Francisco UPS employee guns down three of his co-workers, then turns his weapon on himself, seemingly as a response to minor slights.

These killings may seem unrelated – but they are only a few recent examples of the kind of crime that demonstrates a surprising link between homicide and inequality.

While on the surface, the disputes that triggered these deaths seem trivial – each involved apparently small disagreements and a sense of being seen as inferior and unworthy of respect – research suggests that inequality raises the stakes of fights for status among men.

The connection is so strong that, according to the World Bank, a simple measure of inequality predicts about half of the variance in murder rates between American states and between countries around the world. When inequality is high and strips large numbers of men of the usual markers of status – like a good job and the ability to support a family – matters of respect and disrespect loom disproportionately.

Inequality predicts homicide rates “better than any other variable”, says Martin Daly, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario and author of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide.

This includes factors like rates of gun ownership (which also rise when inequality does) and cultural traits like placing more emphasis on “honor” (this, too, turns out to be linked with inequality). “About 60 [academic] papers show that a very common result of greater inequality is more violence, usually measured by homicide rates,” says Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level and co-founder of the Equality Trust.

According to the FBI, just over half of murders in which the precipitating circumstances were known were set off by what is called the “other argument” – not a robbery, a love triangle, drugs, domestic violence or money, but simply the sense that someone had been dissed.

When someone bumps into someone on the dance floor, looks too long at someone else’s girlfriend or makes an insulting remark, it doesn’t threaten the self-respect of people who have other types of status the way it can when you feel this is your only source of value.

“If your social reputation in that milieu is all you’ve got, you’ve got to defend it,” says Daly. “Inequality makes these confrontations more fraught because there’s much more at stake when there are winners and losers and you can see that you are on track to be one of the losers.”

Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, agrees. “If you foreclose [mainstream] opportunities for respect, status and personal advancement, people will find other ways to pursue those things.”

Obviously, potential murderers don’t check the local Gini Index – the most commonly used measure of inequality that looks at how wealth is distributed – before deciding whether to get a gun. But they are keenly attuned to their own level of status in society and whether it allows them to get what they need to live a decent life. If they can’t, while others visibly bask in luxury that seems both impossible to attain and unfairly won, those far from the top often become desperate.

Issues of respect don’t only affect males, of course – but overwhelmingly, murders tend to be committed by men: the current proportion in the US is 90%.

What’s less known is that in most countries, most of the victims are male, too. That’s because, since inequality is common worldwide, killings related to status predominate – and men kill those whom they see as rivals. Murders are also disproportionately a crime of the young. For both evolutionary and cultural reasons, social status is most highly contested during adolescence and early adulthood, because high rank is frequently associated with sexual attractiveness.

The link between these crimes and inequality is also underscored by how much their levels differ between countries. “It’s the most variable component of the homicide rate,” says Daly.

All types of homicide are much less common in the egalitarian Scandinavian countries than in the US. But disputes over male status are so much lower in such countries that while in the US, 77% of victims are male, only 50% are in the Nordic nations.

“What’s fallen out is all this male macho stuff,” Daly says. Although inequality can also affect rates of crimes like robbery or burglary, its effect is most clearly seen in the way it murderously magnifies beefs.

The recent, stunning rise in inequality in America started in 1979, with the top 1% capturing 54% of all the increase in income between that year and 2007. While the Great Recession briefly paused the trend, between 2009 and 2013, the 1% took 85% of income growth and the situation has only worsened since. During that time, however, homicide rates showed nearly the opposite pattern: they rose through the 1960s and 1970s, reached a peak in 1991 and fell by nearly half between that year and 2015.

The last two years, however, have seen some rises: the rate in 2016 was nearly 9% higher than in 2015 and 2017 also seems likely to show a jump. Daly says that no one knows what time lag to expect between a rise in inequality and a rise in murder – but if it does take a few decades, this could be the start of a troubling trend, not a blip.

The rise of Trump shows that “inequality has a real tangible effect on voter behavior, just not necessarily what you’d expect”, says the Stanford historian Walter Scheidel, the author of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Scheidel’s book shows that historically, the only way high inequality has been flattened has been through catastrophe: disease, famine, world war, societal collapse or communist revolution.

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