Narcissus' Echo

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Time to own up to a dysfunctional subculture

Warning: The (strong, politically-incorrect and controversial) opinions expressed in this post may be offensive. Fans of rap music are urged to skip perusing this entry. Liberals, please put on your diapers before continuing.

A 'Community Tragedy' Deepens
As hundreds mourn a woman's death, police say a friend may have killed her accidentally.

By Rone Tempest, Times Staff Writer

BERKELEY — Until she died of a gunshot wound in front of her apartment, Meleia Willis-Starbuck was the perfect Berkeley success story — an African American Ivy League scholarship recipient who was on a strong social mission to change the world.

"For those who question why an Ivy League student would maintain a friendship with a gun-toting man," Johnson wrote in his Friday column, "the answers may lie in the consciousness of many African Americans who climbed the social ladder to achieve middle-class status but feel a strong sense of duty, loyalty and responsibility to the rough-cut neighborhoods they come from."

The tragic nature of the killing near the University of California campus became apparent later Friday afternoon, when some of the same mourners gathered in an Alameda County courtroom to show support for Christopher Larry Wilson, 20, one of the two men charged with murder. The other man accused in the killing, Christopher Lester Hollis, 21, is at large.

Wilson, Hollis and Willis-Starbuck were close friends from school days at Berkeley High, which all three attended. Ivy leaguer Willis-Starbuck encouraged Wilson in his studies. After completing community college, Wilson planned to enter UC Santa Cruz this fall. Hollis and Willis-Starbuck were so close they called each other brother and sister, friends said.

According to police reports and accounts of others present at the shooting, Willis-Starbuck and five female friends had stopped at her College Avenue apartment after 1 a.m. on Sunday when they were approached by a group of men who asked them to party. Willis-Starbuck objected to the language allegedly used by some of the men, including the term "bitches."

Police allege that about 1:45 a.m., a car driven by Wilson approached on an adjacent street and that Hollis got out of the car and fired several shots, one of which fatally wounded Willis-Starbuck. No one else was struck. Police are investigating the possibility that Willis-Starbuck called Wilson and Hollis on her cellphone minutes before the shooting.

Friends and family speculated that Hollis might have been attempting to frighten the men and accidentally shot his friend.

"They were kids out doing what they should not be doing. They were all friends," said Michael Jamison, a Wilson family friend who attended the hearing. "It was senseless and crazy."

"I know all of them. They are all good kids. Chris Wilson was like another son to me," said Arnold Perkins, Alameda County Health Care Services director and Berkeley resident, who attended both events Friday. "This is a community tragedy, one of those terrible situations where friends ended up hurting friends.

"No one blames anyone in this," said Perkins, who spoke at the memorial service and was prepared to speak on Wilson's behalf in the courtroom. "We are all caught in this matrix created by too many handguns."

(Rest of the article)

Note that there is no mention of the subculture at work here. A subculture which encourages men to address their women as "bitches," "hoes," and worse. A subculture that glorifies engaging in drive-by shootings and murder. I went through my phase of teenage angst too: listened to heavy metal, speed metal, trash metal and death metal. But ask yourself, how many Metallica, Testament, Iron Maiden, Slayer fans engage in drive-by shootings? When was the last time you read of Heavy / Trash / Death / Speed Metal artists shooting and killing each other?

Guns are not the issue. In Arizona, it is legal for adults to walk around with loaded handguns in full view. I have observed men there with handguns sticking out of their belts, walking into McDonalds with their 5-year-olds. I don't hear of many drive-by shootings, or gang-related shootings there. Strangely, I don't hear of women in country music being addressed as "bitches" and "hoes" either. Neither do I hear or see large cars / SUVs in Arizona with bass thumping, windows rattling, with lyrics about drive-bys, "capping" each other, beating women, and returning to "da hood" either. A coincidence? I think not.

This is no longer a "wounded culture." This is a dysfunctional and malignant subculture that needs to be eradicated; to be put down; erased. Ask yourself this: prior to gangster rap, did we have music artists shooting each other? Not Jimmy Hendrix, not B. B. King, nor Ray Charles, or Harry Belafonte, not Louis Armstrong, nor Sammy Davis Jr., and certainly not the Platters, etc. But, with the appearance of gangster rap, we have this unprecedented social phenomenon occurring. Why? Because we have the commercialized glorification of the ghetto lifestyle. Where young impressionable African-American kids are taught that the coolest--or bling bling--role models are not the likes of Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, or Tiger Woods (yes, yes, he is only partially African-American), but to be some braindead drug-dealing, gangbanger zooming around in his tinted SUV, with ghetto music waking up the dead, beating his women, pimping them out, and wearing pants 10 sizes too large.

Meanwhile, cities like Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond continue closing their eyes to the real threat in the community. It's not the guns, the SUVs, or a failing school system. It's the subculture.

Check out the proportion of African-Americans in prison versus other races. What music do you think they grew up listening to? Classical? Blues? Hardly.

The time of politically-correct moral relativism and cowardice must come to an end. Society should put its foot down and declare, "Enough is enough! This subculture is a bane upon humanity!" and take concrete steps to blot it out. The defence, "Oh, this is our culture," is no defence.


Blogger crufty said...

While I agree with you that a "sub-culture" promoting misogynistic, drug-dealing, trigger-happy behavior is not healthy, and the proliferation of firearms are not the issue, blaming it solely for causing senseless deaths is simply too convenient.

The US has come a long way since the Emancipation Proclamation but in recent years things have regressed. Politicians are more interested in pork barreling and attempting to fulfill phantom agendas such as the "war on terror" than in real issues such as education, health care, communicable diseases, building racial harmony etc.

It's time the people directed their anger at those who are in a position to make changes, but are not doing so.

9:06 PM  
Blogger -ben said...

Agreed. My apologies if the tone in my post came across as blaming the subculture as the sole cause of causing these deaths. A substantial part of it was--well, not to be insensitive but--the victim associating with characters of questionable judgment. I believe there is an ancient Chinese saying... something about those who mess around near the ink well end up being blackened.

And I too, agree that politicians seem too interested in their pet projects to devote time and resources to solving social problems. In some ways, it is similar to how things are often managed across the Causeway: they rather build some silly new statue or park, than maintain and/or upgrade the drainage and sewage system. Why? Because the former is more visible.

On the other hand, this segment of the population have to bear its share of responsibility for tolerating or encouraging such a subculture as well. Like I mentioned in the post, the defense of "It's our culture!" is no defense. Especially when it leads to soaring crime rates, social problems, etc. The entertainer, Bill Cosby, and the politician, Barack Obama, made note of how this subculture affects education. When success in school is denigrated as "selling out" or "being white," you know you got problems.



As for health care (this is going to come as a surprise to those who have known me all these years), it is my fervent belief that health care is NOT a human right. Health care is a matter of personal responsibility. I observed multiple cases of individuals who complain that they cannot afford health insurance, and yet, they can afford to drive Cadillac Escalades, dress their kids and themselves in Tommy Hilfiger, and purchase 52" television sets. I guess the concept of "priority" is alien to them.

As for people who eat unhealthily, smoke, drink to excess, and do not exercise, these lifestyles are all called "running on credit." I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for people who set themselves up--and then expect society to bear the burden. People who knowingly indulge in activities that have a high-probability of resulting in heavy medical bills later do not deserve society's aid. There is compassion and there is enabling.

"Well, what about those who are born with medical problems"? In that case, I think society should help these people.

In the case of communicable diseases, I agree more can be done. At least some of the damage, however, has been done by politicians and the government. Take the case of the flu vaccine. Politicians come in and say, "Hey, the drug companies are making too much money from this! We want to limit how much you can charge for these!" Drug companies are forced to lower prices accordingly.

Now, when you produce ANYTHING, there is always a percentage of "failures" or rejects. In the case of the vaccines, there is a theoretical chance that a small percentage of people will experience an adverse reaction to it. Let's say this number is 0.001% for the purpose of this discussion. So, that essentially means that if you give this flu vaccine to 1 million people, 10 of them are going to get sicker or even die. Fair enough, so the drug companies issue a notification that each patient must read and acknowledge before receiving the vaccine.

Of course, just because everyone reads and acknowledges the notice doesn't mean that everyone escapes the possibility of an adverse reaction. Some people do end up getting sicker after receiving the vaccine. Some even die. Enter the politicians again.

The politicians now pass a new bill that allows people to sue the drug companies for damages EVEN THOUGH THEY ACKNOWLEDGE BEING INFORMED OF THE STATISTICAL POSSIBILITY OF AN ADVERSE REACTION.

What do the flu vaccine drug companies do? They stopped making them. The US now has to obtain flu vaccine from foreign sources.

In the case of HIV/AIDs, there exist multiple reports that individuals (of all orientations) are now less cautious with their sexual activities because they derive a measure of security from the availability and affordability (subsidized by charities, government and social programs) of more effective anti-viral drugs. Now, that's gross abuse of the system, IMHO.

Next, the issue of racial harmony. Now, that's a complex one. And I am not really sure if politicians, given their general ineptitude with simpler problems, are adequately equipped to tackle this one. Assimilation versus diversity, where along the spectrum should the golden mean lie? Too much of the former results in exoticism or, conversely, watered-down blandness, and too much of the latter results in racial chauvinism, segregation and insularity. No racial group is spared from this quandary. This issue is too complex and I will not pretend to claim possession to any answers, however, I will say this much: the racial group with more resources (financial, intellectual, legal, etc) possesses a better chance in asserting itself, "defending it's turf," so to speak. And having a new generation growing up envisioning part of their future committing acts contravening the laws of their society can hardly be considered a promising strategy.

5:38 AM  

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