“It matters little if you are on the side that feels people kill or guns kill.”
The vicious cycle of life endured by those born into the inner cities continues. Nightly newscasts continue to highlight the perils of sitting on a front stoop, going to school, running an errand or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The majority of the violence occurs in neighborhoods that have been long forgotten and forever ignored. Children die. Children are buried. It matters little if you are on the side that feels people kill or guns kill. Our future is changed.
Police, directed to protect and serve, respond to the violence. Directives are issued. A strategic plan is put in place. Neighborhoods come under scrutiny. People begin to sense a strong feeling of being profiled. Then something happens and a city goes up in flames.
“The news media is quick with cameras and commentary.”
This is nothing new. Inner cities all across this country have experienced major riots often. The first “urban riot” is thought to have occurred in Los Angeles, California in 1965. Wikopedia shares “Riots have occurred before the rapid urbanization starting in the mid-20th Century, hence the occurrence of riots in urban areas in itself is not special. While a riot may be initially sparked by a specific event, scholars, commentators and commissions have sought to identify the deeper reasons and have identified a number of urban conditions that may underline urban riots. These urban conditions are often associated with urban decay more generally and may include: discrimination, poverty, high unemployment, poor schools, poor healthcare, housing inadequacy and police brutality and racial bias.”. The news media is quick with cameras and commentary. And what seems to be nothing more than a ratings race, the event is highlighted and the cause is obscure. Then the news cycle moves on and everyone goes home.
“People do not take to the streets for entertainment purposes.”
People take to the streets and loot and burn and band together in a unified explosion of pent-up anger and frustration. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary of urban riots and we are not one minute close to dealing with the root causes. People do not destroy their own neighborhoods out of ignorance. People do not take to the streets for entertainment purposes. Instinctively, people know something is wrong and they feel powerless to do anything about it.
There is a common thread to the violence. There is a common thread to frustration. There is a common thread to the plight of the poor and under privileged. Understand, it is not a black problem, it is not a brown problem. It is not an African-American problems. It is not a Latino problem. The root causes exist almost invisibly in every inner city neighborhood. Changing gun laws will not cure the problem. Increasing minimum wages will not cure the problem. Programs to assist under performing students will not cure the problem. Campaigns, i.e. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, will not cure the problem.
“The base issues existed before all those under 50 years old in jail committed their first offense.”
The “war on drugs” has not solved the problem. The statistics are staggering. The number of incarcerated parents, moms and dads no longer in the home, is almost unbelievable. I do not suggest for one minute that if you set them all free, you will have cured the problem. The base issues existed before all those under 50 years old in jail committed their first offense. We have known for years that the living conditions in most dwellings in the inner cities are not fit for humans. NOT FIT. It has nothing to do with how homes are kept. It has nothing to do with the squalor that exists.
“… the silent music accompaniment plays a death knell which no one hears.”
Homes, such as these pictured, have been quietly destroying the lives of those that occupy them since the first occupant moved in. Our government has known this for decades and has done little more than demand that people be told of the danger. People move in, raise a family and move on and another set moves in and so on. The carousel of mobility turns on a regular basis while the silent music accompaniment plays a death knell which no one hears. While generation after generation is destroyed and scores of children are handicapped before they learn to walk, elected officials quietly acquiesce to “slum lords” and allow the conditions to remain the same.
“In 1977, our government officially recognized the danger of lead paint.”
The United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint in 1977 in residential properties and public buildings(16 Code of Federal Regulations 1303), along with toys and furniture containing lead paint. The cited reason was “to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who may ingest paint chips or peelings. Stop and think about that for a minute. In 1977, our government officially recognized the danger of lead paint. Every home-built prior to 1978 probably has a coating of lead paint on the walls, window and door trim, radiators, etc. It may have been re-painted and the original lead based paint is out of sight. Unless it has been completely removed, it continues to lurk, out of sight, waiting for a chip or ding or scratch. Once exposed, it carries the risk of poisoning those nearby. There is no government edict in existence that requires all lead paint to be removed. Remediation sounds like a solution, but it does not last forever. Removal is the only answer.
“We can not change yesterday, but ignoring today offers little hope for tomorrow.”
Every single adult was once a child. Children are the seeds of our future. Poisoning them and destroying their opportunity to grow up healthy is one of the root causes of buildings burning, violent crime and generational poverty. There is no reasonable way anyone can assail the scholastic results of children than have been handicapped by the environment. We can not continue to poison today and hope tomorrow will be healthy. We can not change yesterday, but ignoring today offers little hope for tomorrow. We have acknowledged the problem over 35 years ago. It is time we moved beyond disclosing the issue. It is time we stopped stop-gap remediation. It is time we actually move forward and get the lead out.
“Gentrification may change the look of a neighborhood, but lead paint can not be gentrified.”
If this picture represented the only children at risk, lead paint removal would have been ordered in 1978. Sadly, that is not the case. While lead paint is hazardous to all children and adults, the vicious cycle of opportunity offered and denied does break down along racial lines. It does make a difference where you grow up. The suburbs of most major cities are filled with newer homes and townhouses. Inner cities are comprised of much older homes. Gentrification may change the look of a neighborhood, but lead paint can not be gentrified. New home buyers are advised of the possible existence of lead paint. Landlords must advise tenants of the possible existence of lead paint. Most jurisdictions require that lead paint remediation or removal be done by a certified contractor. Yet, lead paint remains. It is time that the Federal Government step in and require all lead paint to be removed before any property can change hands or any new tenant moves into a dwelling. Every property that is currently approved for Section 8 support should be inspected and if lead paint exists (even beneath several coats of new paint or wall paper) it must be removed.
“Lead paint, like bad decisions, can not be swept under the proverbial rug.”
The total removal of lead paint from every home in the United States will not cure all the problems. It will remove one of the hidden barriers that exists. It will give children the opportunity to develop and grow. It will remove the handicap that currently prevents them from accessing all that educational systems have to offer them. A program that mandates every home is lead free will change the future of children currently living in a poisonous environment. Admittedly, nothing can change how we have dealt with lead paint in the past. Nothing will alter the horrid conditions we have allowed to exist. Lead paint, like bad decisions, can not be swept under the proverbial rug. Our approach has been weak and the results speak for themselves. Get the lead out. We owe it to ourselves and the future of this country to stop disclosing and to begin removing every speck of lead paint in every home in the country.
“There is no justifiable reason that lead paint should be allowed to continue to be present in any home…”
I urge you to contact your State Representative and your Congressman and your United States Senator and ask that they introduce legislation that will put and end to lead paint poisoning. There is no justifiable reason that lead paint should be allowed to continue to be present in any home, any where, anymore. Do it for the children. Get the lead out.