Ayesha Walker breaks down the broader picture behind her story about Richmond. Read on for more.
I’ve lived in Richmond, California for almost 21 years. My mom has lived here for 52 years. She and my grandmother would always tell me stories of “ancient” downtown Richmond. Both my grandma and my mom told me stories of when young people actually walked the streets late at night – without caution! They told me that youngsters actually resolved their conflicts with some old school quality fighting, and were still friends the next day.
My generation, on the other hand, is equipped with lots and lots of guns, lots and lots of drugs, and way too much leisure time. Richmond has an average of about 4 murders a month. Last year, 47 people were murdered in my city, and in 2006 it was 42. But now, who’s really responsible for all of this mayhem? Someone growing up in Richmond is going to have a greater chance of losing their life than someone growing up in upper class Piedmont, California. I just wonder why some people can go home and be safe while others cannot.
Anyi Howell, the producer of this piece, said something that really struck home with me. He told me that authentic news can only come from inside the community, and that news reporters distort the truth by looking in from the outside. Often you’ll hear a story on the local news painting a picture of how dangerous a city is without explaining the root of the problem. Young people face these root issues in almost every inner city in America: high schools without windows or enough books but full of underpaid and under-qualified teachers; a lack of confidence that stems from institutional neglect, as far back as elementary school; and the white collar employment that would be easier to access with these resources in place. As long as we have to focus on everyday survival, in place of education, we as young people will continue the legacy of becoming working class individuals, just like our parents. Instead of facing these problems, we take our frustration and depression out on each other, and that sometimes results in violence. But, I guess the news isn't designed to paint that broad a picture.