Commentary: On Kids with Guns, Racism, Hatred, How Fools Never Learn!
A message to BC and Oxnard
How can anyone deny that the world is a violent and turbulent maelstrom of racism, sexism, religious fanaticism bordering on the worship of insanity, hatred and intolerance? All this violence created almost exclusively by men all over the world, including Oxnard.
A high school kid that we will call BC, as in “Born into a Crazy World” recently revealed to me and others that a gun had been pulled on him at a local Oxnard high school. BC had a gun pointed at his gut and a chilling demand uttered, ”Where you from fool?” The kid on the wrong side of the gun froze in terror. This loud mouth kid has lost his ability to “to talk mess” for the first time in his short troubled life. Luck saved the kid from being shot or worse. With a school official headed their way all the kids “on the right side of the gun that live forever” as Kendrick Lamar tells us, scrambled away like violent mutants seeking cover in a nearby classroom. The adrenaline kicked in and BC bolted to the administration office to seek sanctuary. In the office in front of school officials and Oxnard cops the kid started talking; rather he spun a tale of denial and manipulations. BC’s incapable of speaking the truth. He’s ratting out the “enemy”. In potentially suicidal panic BC violated gangster cardinal rule number one: “Keep you stupid mouth shut.”
How many times does this gun, violence and tribal insanity occur on our high schools in Oxnard? If you’re interested in knowing the truth avoid the cops, the school and local officials and go directly to the kids. Ask them and they will tell you. BC confessed to me that in a two week period he saw a gun in the hands of kids on school grounds on two different occasions. All the kids know what is going on. The smart ones know how to avoid anger, the knuckle heads are drawn to the trouble, and kids like BC are neither smart or a knucklehead but caught in the middle.
BC was born into a dysfunctional roller coaster, accompanied by violence, abandonment and fear. All he knows is drama; as in doing whatever twisted deed necessary to survive. In his world BC learned to manipulate and now he’s a master in the art of deception at the tender age of 14. The likelihood that the “enlightened” side of BC is going to magically appear today is very remote, but it is not impossible, and I have witnessed this miracle of transformation countless times with the toughest kids in Oxnard. Here is where we must act with love on a local level.
There are too many guns everywhere in this country and that of course includes Oxnard. The cops and school officials are the first to tell you they cannot solve the problem of the possession of illegal guns by kids in the local schools; if they could they would have done that already. The best community safety is where kids, young adults and everyone else in Oxnard feels a sense of peace, love and respect. In a very twisted way this is all BC has ever wanted, and that’s what the kid with the gun wanted.
In Marc Lewis, P.HD., brilliant ground breaking book “The Biology of Desire”, he reveals a compelling thesis that any “addiction is an unintended consequence of the (hard wired) brain doing what it is suppose to do – seek pleasure and relief – in a world that’s not cooperating.” So Lewis, and I concur; BC’s brain and the brains of all our dysfunctional and troubled youth must be rewired. This can no longer be a failed war on crime waged against our youth as much as it is a mercy mission of science and psychology driven by love.
There are sanctuaries in Oxnard that practice this kind of community defined practices of social and restorative justice work that is complimented by culturally competent and ethnically congruent educational and psychological programming supported by an unwavering foundation of love.
The KEYS Leadership Academy at the Café on A is one such program that has for over two decades worked with the most troubled and dysfunctional youth and their families in all of greater Oxnard. The work is not easy, and never driven by traditional law and order drivers or functionary standard of measurement. Our motto is “LOVE IS THE KEY” and we never waver from that foundation. We have worked with thousands of kids in Oxnard, and I can tell you that I have never witnessed a kid, no matter how tough or broken, who does not respond to respect, social and restorative justice, and love.
The “problem” with the KEYS Leadership Academy program is that it is not geared to give the cops, the probation department, the school and local elected officials neatly packaged “success numbers” every quarter; but rather The KEYS Leadership Academy provides individual and unique award winning effective educational program of scientific and psychological empowerment drive by love. For one kid it took 17 years to get to “rewire her brain and heart” we are still working with her. It will take many year for BC working with us to “rewire” his brain and resuscitate his heart and soul but we will be there with him. This is how we do it at the KEYS Leadership Academy at Café on A, one heart, and one soul at a time.
Love is KEY!
Armando Vazquez, M.Ed. is Executive Director of Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition