When the fight against gun violence is personal

Sometimes I get frustrated, because when I talk to young men about gun violence, I sometimes hear a hopelessness that makes me think that I want change more than they do.


And I’ve been talking to a lot of young brothers lately. Through ManUpPHL’s Listening to the Streets program, I’ve learned that gun violence has become embedded in some of our communities. I’ve learned that the cycle of shooting and vengeance is firmly in place. And I’ve learned that as much as some of our young brothers might want to change, they’re deeply invested in a culture that could cost them their lives.


But I’ve also been reminded of something I learned a long time ago in my own life. People don’t change overnight. Circumstances don’t change in an instant. And sometimes, we’re so tightly connected to the things that are killing us, we begin to think those things are keeping us alive. For me, it was drug using. For others, it’s drug dealing. Still others are the griots who tell the sordid stories of the streets.


And when you’re stuck between right and wrong, between life and death, it’s so hard to see that sometimes you stop trying, and you hold on to the darkness, and it drowns you.


But for me, the hope is in those brothers who can see beyond the corner—the brothers who can see a future where they’re still alive. The brothers who can translate the cunning and toughness from the streets and use it in their own business. In their own careers. In their own futures. I’m not saying it’s easy to change. What I’m saying is that if you want to, we’ll help you, so you can reach back and help somebody else. If the lives of our kids matter as much to you as they do to me, call ManUpPHL at 267.748.7818, and let’s make a difference—together.
Photo: Philly By. ThunderKiss Photography

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