An Examination of Lives that Supposed to Matter

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by Tommy Davis

Once again, and far too often, the Rochester community is displaying an expressive reaction in response to the persistent violence in our city. Young black men are settling disputes by fatally reducing their opposition. Politicians and religious representatives are blaming poverty in an effort to rationalize why violence is so common among black Americans.

As I continue to engage in research as a PhD student at Piedmont International University while employed as a full-time contract chaplain at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, I am beginning to uncover some interesting facts that oppose conventional wisdom.crime scene chaplain1

Being poor do not make people commit crimes. Ruthless lifestyles and a lack of scholastic currency are two motivating factors in the life of the criminal because one refuses to fairly compete for economic resources. I once asked an offender why he wouldn’t offend in certain neighborhoods. He responded by saying, “Those white folks would call the cops.”

Criminals dwell and operate where their surroundings endorse a double-standard when it comes to justice. Getting tough on crime is often equated with racism, and politicians who encourage work and responsibility among the so-called poor will almost never get elected.

Contemporary consensus is failing to take into account the social constructs that are in place that facilitate the growth in felonious activity. Among these are welfare disbursements that discourage work routines and promote sexual promiscuity among teenagers; the laxity of offender sanctions, and spiritually frail religious leaders who believe that government programs, as opposed to discipline and hard work, are the answer to black mischief.

Nearly all black teens give birth out of wedlock which makes them prime candidates for government expenditures. This pattern virtually guarantees youthful misbehavior because the uncommitted father lacks the ability to provide direction he himself does not have.

When children are reared among a people impervious to law enforcement, schooling, and voluntary work traditions, they are cognitively wired to promote an opposing set of standards often inconsistent with the larger community. Criminals choose to offend society such as I did when I was a juvenile delinquent. But the right penalty encouraged me to imbibe new behaviors like finishing school, acquiring employment, and getting married in an effort to provide a solid foundation in which to maturely raise my children.

Finally, I would encourage our most vocal clerics to start including the virtues of thrift, honesty, hard work, and moral behavior in their homilies. There should be a support for law enforcement and rehabilitation techniques consistent with human dignity as well. Consequently, we will start seeing an increased population of young black citizens rising to a position of usefulness as opposed to burying them at the expense of taxpayers. Then it will be taken seriously when it is shouted: “Black Lives Matter.”


  1. Reblogged this on Lloyd's of Rochester – an Eclectic blog and commented:
    In Rochester, NY there has been too much violence this year, largely by and on young black males. Of course, there are then the obligatory marches, vigils, speeches and posturing, yet the violence continues unabated. Of course. Bandaids don’t stop the source of the problem, which no one really wants to speak to/about because it is ugly and politically incorrect and requires a spine and fighting spirit. Enter Tommy Davis, a man of color with insight, wisdom, who pulls no punches as he tells it like it is without posturing or pandering! Bless him, and may more people hear what he has to say.

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