In the streets of Philadelphia, young Black men are the likeliest victims of gun violence, and they are dying at the hands of men who look like them. Some say this is evidence that racism has no role in the murders that have spread through our community like a virus. But that’s not true. Racism is at the core. It’s just hard to see that truth through all the blood.
I know this because I run the non-profit ManUpPHL. Through a simple initiative called Listening to the Streets, we’ve spent weeks talking to some of the men who come from the Philadelphia neighborhoods that are beset by gun violence. To put it more accurately, we’ve spent weeks listening to them. In doing so I have been humbled, because they’ve taught me how much I don’t know about what’s happening in the streets of my city. They’ve taught me the underlying reasons for the gun violence, and they’ve shown me that many of the solutions being bandied about will not work.This is not to say no one is trying. In fact, the opposite is true. Many people and organizations are trying, including city officials seeking to spend $100 million to address gun violence. But not even that much funding will stop the bloodshed if it is simply thrown into old solutions that are not drawn from the streets.
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Photo: Kensington, Philadelphia-006 By. Simon