Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are Black Youth in Chicago More at Risk Than Military Personnel in Afghanistan or Iraq?

18-year-old Janay Mcfarlane, a mother of a 3-month-old boy, was shot in the head and killed in a Chicago suburb just hours after her sister sat behind President Obama as he advocated for tighter gun regulations on Friday. 
January was one of the deadliest in Chicago in more than a decade, with more than 40 people killed in homicides. “Last year, there were  443 murders with a firearm in this city, and 65 of them were 18 and under,” Obama said in his speech. “That’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months. That’s precisely why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some common sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.” Obama also remembered Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was killed in a South Side park days after performing at his inauguration.
The madness must stop.

I recall a claim from my readings about the dynamics of public opinion which suggests that the public turns against a conflict when a threshold number is reached wherein a given number of people know someone from their high school class who have been killed there.

We have a good range of readers here on We Are Respectable Negroes. Perhaps, we can crowd source the following question? Is someone on military duty in either Iraq or Afghanistan safer than a young black person in urban Chicago? How does service in the "combat arms" (i.e. infantry, special forces, etc) complicate the risk metric?

Of course, one could do some crude calculations based on the number of black youth killed in Chicago during X time period and then compare it to the American casualty rates in Iraq or Afghanistan. This would give you a rough estimate. However, it would not capture the expected casualty rates in a war zone versus those in day-to-day civilian life. This same calculation would also not get us a sense of the real probabilities at work in comparing one's relative chances of being killed by gun violence (or other criminal means) in Chicago versus death in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Also, how do we count the wounded? And what of the ability of military surgeons to save the lives of those who suffer horrific traumas that (again, just guessing here) the average hospital in a major city may not possess?

I am sure there are metrics and models for computing the probability functions of these dark matters. Hopefully, some folks can teach a brother a thing or two on these matters so I can comment on them in a more informed manner.

Wouldn't it be a hell of a thing if going to Iraq or Afghanistan were safer for black youth in Chicago than staying in their own hyper-segregated, crime-ridden, gang infested, nihilistic, broken youthocracy, neighborhoods?


jenmcox said...

For what it's worth, I think it's Latane's Social Impact Theory?

chauncey devega said...

We ask and get an answer. I will have to check that out. Appreciated.

Dave said...

These are very relevant questions that I tell myself don't nessessarily apply to my reality. I know they do and I am so with you on the notion of a threshold of public opinion. I struggled with a reply late last night but decided to back away as it felt somehow uneasy. I opted to wait and I regret this. I have no, obvious, experience to draw from for this inquiry of the "crowd". Although, this remains an extremely relevant and uncomfortable question that seeks attention.

chauncey devega said...

What were you nervous about? The painful truth of it or where such questions lead us in terms of thinking about whose lives are valued or not?

Do share. Nice to hear your voice here.

Dave said...

To put an emotional tag on what I am nervous about I will say guilt, and being perceived as looking for forgiveness (and not writing well).

It pains me to consider how much gets collectively ignored. The gathering willingness to consider fellow country men as disposable disturbs me. I have not considered myself a member to violence that visits your city or personally felt the impact of miltaristic actions of the last decades, but in a broad sense I know I/we all do.

chauncey devega said...

Your write pretty well to my eyes--sincere, direct, and honest.

We have been a country at war now for more than 10 years. Two world wars. A generation has been born that knows nothing but a brushfire war that has killed thousands of Americans and many more elsewhere. But, they feeling oddly distant from it. When the chickens come home to roost this same public will act shocked and amazed. Sad...and cultivated by the elite class who know better. Keep the masses asses. Always.

Invisible Man said...

I think it' time to be honest with Black children in the inner city and tell them( what we already know) that their life means little to this society and they have more economic value in prison. At least they would have more of a fighting chance , being told first had, what they intrinsically, know.

Dave said...

You know I keep hearing this false narrative of a collective demand of "utopia" from the right. But but do you think that layering dystopia upon dystopia is a way forward?

Dave said...

Thank you for your kind words, and for your voice. It matters to me.

CNu said...

This is all so simple, obvious, and transparent. If their own parents don't value and invest in them, who exactly should be doing so? (and bear in mind that in the collapsing economy, the state and the church no longer have the means to rescue foundlings) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_hatch

Katie said...

I'm not sure what the contemporary statistics are but in his article "Decivilizing and Demonizing" sociologist Loic Wacquant reports that, “young black men in Harlem
run a greater risk of violent death today simply by virtue of residing in that
neighborhood than they would have walking to the front lines at the height of
the Vietnam War." So, it seems like there is good reason to think that urban black youth face a higher risk of death by gunfire than U.S. soldiers currently do.

chauncey devega said...

I will need to get that article tool. Lots of good reading material here. What does that suggest about citizenship? And how some folks simply are not valued coequally in this society. Damning.

SabrinaBee said...

Joburg, now this. You're depressing me CD. Seems that wherever we are concentrated, it's bad. Of course, I know better than this, simply looking at our brown friends to the south and some Asian countries to the east. It just seems we should have come further than this. We are, after all, supposed to be living in a "developed" country. We can ruminate and theorize on why and many people have different answers. It's the how to change it, I think, that is going to remain out of reach. There are too many benefits to exploiting this destructive culture. It's a lucrative part of the economy, throughout the world. Those that sit atop the social structure thrive on the misery of others. Same as it ever was.

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