There is an African Proverb that I am fond of quoting: “The experience of one generation becomes the history of the next, and the history of several generations becomes the traditions of a people.”
On Dec. 14 like many Americans and peoples from around the world, I found myself once again extremely grieved by the horrible reality of gun violence in many of our American, particularly urban, communities.
We here in Richmond experience and understand that reality far too well. Much too much! Much too often!
Like in Newtown Connecticut, too many Richmond parents have experienced a nightmare that no parent should ever have to experience, and countless more have been traumatized by such evil.
Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. recently noted, “Since 1979, when gun death data were first collected by age, a shocking 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517).”
“Where is our anti-war movement to protect youth from pervasive gun violence here at home?” She asks.
In Richmond, 14 families have lost a loved one to the unspeakable horror of gun violence this year.
Although Richmond has experienced a trend towards fewer firearm related injuries and deaths over the past five years, we cannot rest, become complacent or halt our efforts to ensure that our city is healthier, safer and as prosperous as it can be for everyone – where firearm related deaths are as uncommon and unlikely as snowfall is in Richmond during the coldest of winter months.
We as a community know that there is still a great deal more to be done and accomplished to reach our goals – absolutely no firearm related incidents and homicides, year in, year out.
Each and all of us must do more to stop this intolerable and wanton epidemic. As a community, we cannot continue to solely talk about, be angry about it, be divisive about it, politicize it, want money for it, want credit for it. We must BE about it.
There is no one strategy, agency, church, preacher, community-based organization or super-person that who can create the new reality that we seek.
The answer lies in first our example and humanity towards one another, and then our combined efforts and resources, the integration of a multitude of services, whether public, private, philanthropic or the indigenous, grassroots Richmond community assets working together to create the conditions that will help to produce our new reality – Healthy Kids, Healthy Families and Communities – A Healthy City!
If we do not immediately work to further and more resolutely, the traditions we pass on will not be strong enough to keep evil and chaos from destroying our children, our families, our communities.
So I say Rejoice during this Holiday Season, cherish and hug those you love, rejuvenate and get ready to BE and DO your part – Remain Vigilant Richmond!
DeVone Boggan serves as Neighborhood Safety Director and Director of the City of Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety.