The Heidelberg Project, Detroit, MI. 2010.
I wrote about the correlation between gun violence and economic insecurity:
Even in cities with strong gun laws, the correlation holds. Buzzfeed notes that “the average rate of gun deaths in Chicago’s five poorest neighborhoods was over 12 times the rate in its least poverty-stricken.” A map of murders in Washington, D.C. shows that killings hardly ever occur in the city’s wealthy western swath of neighborhoods.
Mind you, this is correlation and not causation. But there’s plenty of reason to believe that poverty leads to gun violence and greater economic security decreases it.
In his classic study of inner city Philadelphia, sociologist Elijah Anderson demonstrates how racism, social alienation, and the absence of economic opportunity combine to create a “code of the street” in which wielding the “credible threat of violence” is the only way to ensure one’s safety. Needless to say, the code leads to a pattern of confrontation and killing.
“Only by reestablishing a viable mainstream economy in the inner city, particularly one that provides access to jobs for young inner-city men and women, can we encourage a positive sense of the future,” Anderson wrote.
Continued at Generation Progress.
I didn’t think I would be back in Washington, DC so soon. I just spent a couple days here for a conference after saying a big goodbye only a few weeks ago.
It took that goodbye to realize how much this place means to me. I spent most of the last six years here, and for much of that time I was regularly bashing the city and threatening to leave. Friends and family would probably recognize the basic narrative: I like this city, I love my friends, and there are cool things to do, but I don’t BELONG here. It’s not home to me like other places are.
For the friends who abided my years of griping, this is me eating crow. Yes, I was often unhappy in DC. But now I recognize why I stayed despite all the threats to move; Washington, DC made me the person I am in so many ways.
Since arriving fresh out of high school, I have met my closest friends, entered college, vowed to leave college, graduated college, made mistakes, hurt feelings, worried about lots of things I shouldn’t have, slept on boxes under streetlights, played an uneasy role as case manager for low-income residents, climbed onto a lot of forbidden rooftops, filled a dorm room with cardboard boxes, feared for the life of friends, mourned the death of friends, mourned the death of near-strangers, co-founded a magazine, put on a suit and tie just to steal knick-knacks from a hotel, gone to two presidential inaugurations, fractured my spine, fallen in love.
I stand by my decision to leave. DC isn’t the right place for me, not right now. But as I rode the train back into town on Tuesday, it felt a little bit like coming home.