For most, the year 2020 has been the most trying year of our lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and all of its baggage, have forever changed our life as we know it.
It created economic pressure, psychological pressure, frustration and fear unlike any other time in recent history. As I sit writing these words, the pressure continues.
Lurking in the shadows of the pandemic is an escalating murder rate unseen since the bloody 1990’s. At the time of this writing, the City of Houston is approaching 400 murders for the year 2020. It is the same in every major city. Chicago has reported 700 murders. Homicides have increased 36% throughout the country.
While people are getting their hopes up for a vaccine to address the coronavirus pandemic, what do we do about the senseless bloodshed happening every day in our streets?
How do we develop “antibodies” that fight off the diseases of self-hatred, crime and violence?
There is only one vaccine. It is our unity.
Let’s be clear. These skyrocketing homicide statistics are not purely gang related. At the same time, too many of them are. Domestic violence is unprecedented, as well. Hurt feelings are turning into homicides.
What we are witnessing is a dangerous combination of a population in survival mode; psychologically, socially, spiritually, economically and physically. Thousands of people are losing their lives, because millions of people are losing their minds.
In a recent Zoom video call with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and rap artists Slim Thug, Tobe Nwigwe, Paul Wall, Bun-B and others, we discussed causes and solutions. The mayor was seeking advice about how to approach the issue other than increased police presence.
The following day I spoke with Slim Thug who made a really good point. Part of the problem is these youngsters don’t see the consequences of their actions. Before they pull the trigger and ruin their lives forever, they fail to ask themselves the million-dollar question; “Is it worth it?”
For instance, if you decide to rob a convenience store, you may walk away with $900 dollars from the cash register. We are fast becoming a “cashless society.” Most people are using credit and debit cards nowadays. You may get less.
In the state of Texas, aggravated robbery carries a sentence of 5-99 years in prison. It carries a fine of $10,000. If you take it to trial, a good attorney will cost you around $15,000.
If you end up in jail, every day you spend is a day you could have earned money legally to support yourself and your family. Earning money working a fast food job makes more sense than losing money languishing in a jail cell. On top of that, you will more than likely be forced to perform prison labor for a major corporation that will pay you approximately “zero dollars per hour,” but will refuse to hire you upon your release. All for a funky $900.
Slim Thug posted a video on Instagram a day later speaking to the younger generation.
“If I rob this store they are going to have, at the most, $1000 in the register. Is that $1,000 worth 20 years? Think! If you don’t think, you are a “crash dummy.”
I agree with Slim. If you polled 100 prisoners, at least 99 of them will tell you that the crime they committed wasn’t worth the price they’ve had to pay.
Even if you don’t get caught, the psychological price you pay for taking a human life can be worse than jail itself. The fear of going to sleep due to constant nightmares is a constant terror on your mind. Having to watch your back at every turn is psychological terrorism. When you kill another human being unjustly, a part of you dies in the process. Too many lives are being wasted and destroyed. At the end of the day, it’s not worth it.
We are calling on influencers of every kind; OG’s, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, ministers and everyday people to make a commitment to join us in the “Is it worth it?” campaign.
Record and upload a video about the importance of understanding consequences before you act.
More importantly, do something within the sphere of your personal or organizational influence to address the issue of escalating violence in the City of Houston.
More mentorship programs are needed. Economic opportunity is needed. Family structure is needed. You are needed. We all must make a sacrifice.
The sacrifice you make could save a life. It will most definitely be worth it.