COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - WTVM is continuing its conversation on Victory over Violence—a News Leader 9 campaign to bring about hope, solutions, and action.
Last week, various members of the community came together to discuss possible solutions to end senseless killings.
Hip hop and rap are a booming genre in the music industry. According to Goldman Sachs, live music, publishing, and recorded songs raked in more than $60 billion so far this year, and that number is expected to double by 2030.
The lyrics, music videos, and its effects on millennials are seen as a contributing factor to the violence we’re seeing in the community, as stated by the participants of our roundtable discussion with grieving parents, pastors, and a convicted felon turned minister.
“We go to a person’s Facebook page or their social media footprint and you see where they have these pictures with guns. Do they think it’s something to be proud of?”
Pastor Mike Grant, answered, “Our culture is making it like it’s the thing to do. They look at the music videos, the stars of rap, the game and so forth, and they see them perpetuating that. So, the icons and the role models, in their minds, they think this is how you make it. This is what it looks like to be hashtag winning.”
“I mean, it’s horrible you have 10, 11, and 12-year-olds getting access to guns. I think the guns are an epidemic," added Tanya Weaver, whose son was shot and killed while working at the Circle K gas station on Floyd Road a month ago.
Pastor Delta Outley of Abundant Life Outreach Church in Columbus, stated, "And stop this street code of “snitches get stitches. So, these are choices. We can come up with a lot of solutions, but at the end of the day, I believe it starts at home and it’s your upbringing and what you value, which should be life.”
Convicted felon turned minister, Norman Quarles, knows first-hand the struggles people face in the black community. Through his organization, Impacting Generations, he works hand in hand with at-risk youth, young adults, and men.
“These young men say, 75 percent, that would-be criminals are saying they would work or go to school if given a chance because when the youth and young men start to talk, we need to listen to them. It needs to be a collective effort by everybody in the community.”
“So, are you saying some of them when they say they don’t have the opportunity, they are running into roadblocks in trying to get jobs because of their past or criminal histories? So, if we can overcome those obstacles, give them a second chance, or third chance, or a fourth chance, whatever...that’s what needs to be done?”
“Definitely,” said Quarles.
“I’ve talked with some who have made poor decisions and now they’re living nightmares because now. It all came from an image that was portrayed that this is what our culture is about. We know there’s more to the black community than just guns, violence, drugs, sex and money. We know there’s more to us than that. There are brilliant minds, there are successful people. People who come from meager beginnings. We didn’t start there. We worked our way to us through faith in God," according to Pastor Michael Grant of Faith Worship Center Church in Columbus.
Quarles and Outley, founder of Standing Against Violence Education, collaborate with each other to help make a difference.
“I pulled up on a young guy who I got a job a year and a half ago and when he saw me, he ran to my car and said ‘I still have that job.’ Another young lady, we got her a job at Popeyes, an entry-level job and now she’s the general manager at Popeyes. We’ve gotten people in Columbus Tech.”
The violence is a real problem in the community with 32 murders this year so far. And we all agree viable solutions are needed to bring an end to the senseless killings and if the images and lyrics are the driving forces behind the violence, then something has to change.