Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin: MY ANSWER TO THE SHOOTING QUESTION

Posted on September 8, 2016

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury City Councilman

♦ After each incident of gun violence and another senseless murder, I’m often asked the question, “What is the answer?” The answers are easy, but we don’t want to hear them because the truth hurts. And, if it’s the truth, it should.

First, the Black community needs to accept and acknowledge we are failing our own community. We have stopped investing in our community and the young people in it. We’ve opted to chase a rainbow dream to the detriment of monochromatic loyalty, We act as though the Black community is beyond reproach and above being called out for our failures. If anyone in the community is constructively critical, they are labeled as an “Uncle Tom Sellout Nigger” by those who are doing little to nothing to address the issues. We have to stop engaging in blind allegiance because of a shared physical characteristic like skin tone and start calling crazy crazy when we recognize it. Refusing to call US out only lends to this problem and serves to ensure it will continue and worsen.

We don’t need anymore cliched statements or empty rhetoric like “this is a wake up call” or “eye opening” moments. We’ve been talking about this gun violence issue for 20 years and have endured burying young Black lives one after another just as long. Our eyes should be permanently open and we should be fully awake to the fact that this is an epidemic level crisis now. Cute meaningless slogans are useless at this point. I see a whole lot of people offering expert analysis and sound bites for the media, but not too many willing to roll up their sleeves and get some dirt under their fingernails. Too many people want to be seen as Dr. King, but not make the King like sacrifices to their personal comfort.

We have to focus less on chasing and eliminating guns and gangs, and focus more on cultural economic development, building community wealth, more educational opportunities, and increasing employment opportunities for our young people. As long as you’re waiting for someone outside of your community to fix the problems within, you will continue to experience the degradation and deterioration that is currently occurring.

If you put your fate and future in the hands of someone who has no emotional ties or investment to you and your community, progress will never happen. As long as you are beholden to someone and are begging and relying on them for your progress, you will never experience growth and freedom. The best way to subjugate a person and control them is to keep them dependent on you and that elusive promise of equity.

We have to take the difficult position that some of these people are not worth saving. If there are people holding on to the side of the boat with one hand, and using the other to try to sink the boat full of survivors, we need to remove their hand and allow them to metaphorically drown. We then focus on the ones we can reach and save.

We have to provide professional mentoring, vocational training, life skill development, goal setting, ethics training, and job opportunity placement. We have to stop treating these kids as fragile pieces that will somehow break and whither if we raise the expectations of their behavior and conduct.

The answer has to come from within the Black community, but it has to stop being a side hustle and a quest for relevance. If you’re in the fight, be in it for the right reason. We can no longer engage in situational and temporary anger and feigning indignation for a week. If you’re truly tired, your weariness needs to sustain and manifest into a long term solution.
If you’re afraid or uncommitted to stopping this violence, then get out of the way of the people who are.

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