‘Denial’: Not just a river in Africa
Does the Black community enable delinquency within its ranks?
Gregg Reese OW Contributor | 11/30/2018, midnight
Townsend’s path to his current post as executive director of the nonprofit 2nd Call (https://www.2ndcall.org/) began during his adolescence in the West Adams district. His youthful inclination to go to the movies, hang out with his friends, etc., was stymied by persecution from the local Crips faction terrorizing the community. His crew in turn formed their own “Rolling 20s Blood” set to counter this threat. His mother, aware of the realities of the streets, worked extra hard to put him through Catholic school as a buffer, but was blinded by her own type of denial in terms of the degree of danger confronting her offspring.
The late 1970s and 1980s saw fistfights turn to firearms, and then automatic weapons, as the influx of narcotics upped the ante in the neighborhood battlefield.
Jail and age give Townsend maturity, prompting him to seek out a more temperate environ for his own family. As he saw the seeds of his former life budding in his growing brood, he took measures towards becoming the gang interventionist he is today, with a more pragmatic approach towards this vicious cycle.
“I can see not just what they’re (youngsters) running to,” Townsend declares, “I can see where they running from.”
Denial is not just a river in Egypt—it is a force in all of our lives “Actually, denial is probably essential for psychological survival.
If we were aware of everything, the mind couldn’t process it all.”
—Jennifer L. Kunst, Ph.D., for “Psychology Today,” August 31, 2011
Needless-to-say, this technique of enabling is not exclusive to the Black community. “A” was a seasoned veteran of the Los Angeles County probation system when circumstances directed him south to Orange County, commonly referred to as “the O.C.” The demographic there is similar, with subtle differences, specifically the nearly 200,000 Vietnamese who settled there after the Indochina War 40 years ago.
Vietnamese society, like other newly arrived ethnicities, is insular and mistrustful of authorities and outsides. Their own growing problem of delinquency was camouflaged by the short stature and delicate physiques of these Southeast Asian natives. None-the-less, “A” had a few close calls wherein gangs of these newcomers attempted to carjack some of the high end foreign automobiles he drove to work.
At home, their overworked parents could not or would not accept the malfeasance of their youngsters, until they were actually incarcerated and placed in the system. A quick view of their personal files provided an inkling of the reasoning. Almost uniformly these budding desperados were straight “A” students, unlike the Black and Hispanics he’d been accustomed to in L.A.
When these whip-smart book worms took a break from their diligent efforts, their parents raised no eyebrows when their kids announced they were going out to “play” (the O.C. code for gangbanging).
The stereotype of scholarly quiet, high-chieving Asian students is generally flattering, especially to newly arrived parents who’ve sacrificed so much and placed so much hope on the future of their progeny. When the truth is otherwise, it is then particularly painful.