Tuesday, July 03, 2007

An Image Problem in Houston's Fifth

We are back in Houston for a few days to visit family and take care of some business. And while it is bittersweet to be "back in the old neighborhood" without Shebird, the kids and I have enjoyed our time back in the Bayou City so far.

Watching the KHOU local news coverage this morning (without Debra Duncan, who I hope is only on vacation), I saw a story on a recent YouTube video that "depicts a rough image of Houston's Fifth Ward," highlighting and even glorifying the gang life and drug use that has long been so prevalent in our inner-city neighborhoods.
The self-proclaimed gang members and drug dealers are bragging about their so-called thug life on a popular video site over the World Wide Web.
Unfortunately, when the news team brought the video to the attention of Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson, his reaction demonstrates one of the reasons Houston's traditionally low income, minority majority wards has stayed in such a state for so long.
"They can't be the voice of Fifth Ward," said Jarvis as he watched the video. The councilman's district includes the Fifth Ward.

"The Fifth Ward has such a strong history, a strong culture, a strong sense of pride. I'm angry. I'm angry about a video that portrays such a great neighborhood in such a negative manner."
Not angry that crime, gang violence and drug use have for years dominated these neighborhoods. Not angry that families living in his district must deal with these evils on a daily basis. Angry that a video accessible around the nation is depicting his home turf "in such a negative manner."

And to underscore just how angry Councilman Johnson was about the atrocities shown in this online video, it was left to the 11 News crew to take the video to the local authorities in an attempt to have something done about it.

Tell me again why we call such people "community leaders"?

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