An Article By Armand King

Crime, violence, exploitation, and prostitution are all issues that we want to end. I think that goes without saying. Personally they are all issues that have plagued my family and my peers families for generations. So I know these issues way too well. I have been both the victim and the victimizer. In many ways I was trained to be a good criminal. If it wasn’t directly taught to me it was subconsciously planted in my head by the music, entertainment industry, and society as a whole. Some may say I’m making excuses and blaming others for my actions. I can understand how one may perceive my words that way. There is a very thin line between an “excuse” and a “reason”.

Excuses I feel are what people use to rationalize and remove blame from oneself. The purpose of this is to make a person free from guilt from an unfavorable action. A reason on the other hand to me is the real “Why”. Why did a person do what they did? Why is a person the way that they are? I speak on excuses and reason when referring to both male and females involved in negative street life activity. Activities of drug usage & selling, gangs, prostitution, and pimping.

Sometimes when I communicate I can understand how it may seem as if I am making an excuse for some of these behaviors so I do not get mad when I’m addressed as if I am . To be transparent and clear I am not making an excuse for any of illegal or exploitative behavior. I do however understand how most of these behaviors come about. Having this understanding puts me in direct opposition with the pro incarceration mentality and more on the side of help and services of the individuals involved in these activities. Through personal lived experience and growing up my entire life around a criminal element I have been able to witness the true effects of good hearted loving people turn to negative lifestyles due to a slight detour in there path or out of a life necessity not being met.

Who’s to blame?

Witnessing a child whose parents are addicted to drugs , give them up for the system to raise. Bouncing group home to group home. Never in life feeling wanted by anyone. Never feeling love as a child. There is no wonder in my mind how this individual would find that love and sense of acceptance in the neighborhood gang. Is this individual’s upbringing an excuse or a reason ? Does an individual who grew up in a culture where pimping and prostitution was praised, promoted, and seen as the best alternative to poverty get to use their upbringing as a reason for their actions or would their use of their upbringing be an excuse?

Transgenerational trauma and Intergenerational trauma are real forces that have in recent times started to be looked at when examining a persons behavior. I personally believe that they both play a major role in the life of people who have grown up decedents of generational poverty and adversity. Add that on top of the PTSD that many in impoverished communities suffer from, lack of positive influences, opportunities, resources, and poor education you will have the perfect breeding ground for crime.

For the record I do not and cannot condone any behavior that harms another human being. That includes some man made laws that harm human beings as well. Just because it’s a law doesn’t make it right. Remember at one point in America slavery was a law and less than 100 years ago segregation was a law. So it’s not as much a legal vs illegal thing as much as it is a morality thing. Yes In my opinion any form of exploitation, physical, or mental harm of another is wrong. There is no way around that. The purpose of my words here are to simply remind us to not neglect the very important question of “Why”. If we as advocates truly want to stop gang violence, end human sex trafficking, and exploitation as we so aggressively yell and hashtag on our social media post we have to dig to the roots of the problem and stop relying on putting band-aids on bullet wounds. As long as there’s poverty, poor, education, and a lack of opportunities in the community there will always be crime. While writing this I was reminded of a speech by the the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King where he spoke on this very topic but I couldn’t remember which one. After hours of searching through many of his speeches and statements I found many where he was addressing similar topics to the one that that I am writing about at this time. Here is one example.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King “The Crisis in America’s Cities,” which he gave in 1967:

“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness. The policy makers of the white society have caused the darkness; they created discrimination; they created slums; they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of white society. “

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. ACTIVIST AND MINISTER

I advise all to read this speech made only forty-seven years ago but still relevant today.