Woke Up This Morning

Woke Up This Morning

Clarence J Renfroe

March 30, 2013


You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you’d be
The Chosen One.

She said: You’re one in a million
You’ve got to burn to shine,
But you were born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.


The Chosen One to do what and why did you go and get yourself a gun?

            Richard Spano, of the Indiana University, Department of Criminal Justice, concluded a study for Elsevier | Aggression and Violent Behavior titled: First time gun carrying and the primary prevention of youth gun violence for African American youth living in extreme poverty and it is here where we will take a look at some of the reasons for gun carrying amongst African-Americans.

Although violent crime rates in the U.S. have dropped since the 1990s, youth gun violence has remained a significant public health threat facing African American youth living in high poverty, urban neighborhoods (Cook & Laub, 2002). This is a powerful statement for it was made over 11 years ago and it is very true today.


From research done by Sally Black and Alice Hausman in the Journal of Adolescent Research 23.5 (2008) 592-610 titled: “Adolescents’ Views of Guns in a High-Violence Community they point out various reasons for gun carrying among African-Americans.

Major Reasons for Gun Carrying

  • Drug Dealing:

Guns are considered a necessary tool in the world of drug dealing just as saw is to a carpenter. Drug dealing can be a very lucrative business both financially and socially, affording one plenty resources and accesses, but it comes with the very high risks of police crackdowns, robberies, and assaults. Since drug dealers cannot seek protection from law enforcement agencies against aggression from rival drug dealers and others because of their illegal activities, guns are used in the protection of their precious commodity and revenue and becomes a great symbol of wealth, status, prestige, and power just as jewelry, cars, and clothes. Guns play a great role in turf combats played out on the streets of African-American communities where casualties are very high and senseless. It is the innocent children and adults that seem to fall victim to the gun violence for often times they are killed in the crossfire of many gun fights. Guns are in the hands of people who have no experience or training in the use of firearms and really have no knowledge on how to use one other than what they see on television and in the movies.


There is a difference between drug dealing and drug selling. The drug dealer is the person who purchases the drugs that will be sold on the streets and he or she is the one that control the area where the drugs will be sold. They are the people who portrayed as the celebrity with the fancy cars, fine clothes, and jewelry. Their social-economic status is slightly above the middle class and definitely above the working stiff. Their main concern is protecting their territory, drugs, and property. They even incorporate local law enforcement to moonlight as protection for them, but for the most part they are protected by neighborhood thugs and gang bangers. They are most likely to have guns in their homes and on their person especially at social events where they would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon without being searched. Their biggest threat is rival drug dealers looking to take their territory to expand their operation.


The biggest trouble with gun violence comes from the street level selling of the actual drug product –seller to buyer. It is on this level that all the carnage from gun violence is done as there are constant drug rival shootouts performed on the streets of the African-American communities. Turf wars are common place in drug activities and it is here where most of the drive-by shootings are credited. Most of the drugs that are sold in the African-American community are sold by uneducated teens and young adults. These are you drop-outs, juvenile delinquents, and gang bangers. Coming from poor single parented homes full of hopelessness and despair these children will do just about anything just to get something to eat besides a bag of potato chips or chicken wings from the local Chinese hole-in-the-wall and a cheap soda. They are willing to kill and be killed protecting the drugs and the territory of the drug dealer.


  Most parents who are heavy drug users generally have children that are selling drugs, and in some cases they are selling to them and their drug dependent friends.


You woke up this morning
All that love had gone,
Your Papa never told you
About right and wrong.


  • Disrespect:

Guns are now a common use when it comes to responses of blatant disrespect in the African-American community. While some cases of disrespect are mild and others are extreme, all forms of disrespect can lead to a gun or two being drawn when addressing the situation and it becomes escalated. The trouble is more with the rudeness and disregard for another’s person or property in as much as they feel totally violated and disrespected. This is troubling because it challenges the manhood of an individual leaving them scorned by their peers and cohorts. When events of disrespect occur there is a shift in power where the ‘Dis’d’ feels a need to balance out that shift -and fast, before others take it as an open invitation to do the same. There is an immediate need to save face and let others know that this behavior will not be tolerated and will not go without being addressed; give someone an inch today, tomorrow they’ll take a mile. From the playground to the boardroom, the disrespect of one individual can easily be escalated into a violent end. We have seen that so many times in the news, usually from baby daddy or ex-boyfriend.


The question is whether it is truly disrespect or is it embarrassment that fuel the gun violence of the teens and young adults in the African-American communities. To have shame brought upon you by someone else can be pretty traumatizing to say the least, especially when the shamed becomes the laughing stock of the community. This is where one would find gun violence as a form and way of retaliation for being totally embarrassed / disrespected by their peers and cohorts. It is the retaliation business that spurs the ongoing gun violence in the African-American communities –tick for tack; a vicious cycle that must be broken for the sake of innocent children.  


 In Black and Hausman’s study one of the members describes an incident that spurred him to want to obtain a gun.

Reggie (18) described how he wanted a gun after a stranger insulted his girlfriend:

I was taking my girlfriend home. A guy tried to talk to her. Normally, somebody talk to your girlfriend, they get robbed or get hostile. I didn’t get hostile, I just kept walking and then he just kept trying. Then he called my girlfriend a female dog. I had no choice but to get violent, ’cause he disrespected her. The person, they showed me [he] had a gun, so I had no choice but to back down. That’s how I wish I had a gun, but I doubt if I would have pulled the trigger.


You woke up this morning
The world turned upside down,
Thing’s ain’t been the same
Since the Blues walked into town.


  • Bullying:

The biggest cause for anyone to feel as if they have been stripped of their pride and dignity through the lost of respect is the constant accosting, tormenting, and aggression of others. Because bullying is an ongoing event that can last years without being addressed; the bullied will do all that he can in order to avoid the harassment and embarrassment associated with the stigma of being weak, will totally remove that bully from his life’s equation. Even though the use of a gun in the form of retaliation is extreme, but so is suicide. There are numerous cases in which a bullied person has taken his or her own life. According to the CD suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with a reported death toll of roughly 4,400 per year and yet parents/adults still see bullying as a child thing –kids will be kids.

Firearm suicides

  • ·         Number of deaths: 19,392
  • ·         Deaths per 100,000 population: 6.3

Suicides that are committed via firearms are the guns that belong to parents in the home including firearms of police, correction, or some sort of law enforcement personnel who have guns in the home.

Suicides are mainly done by the bullied out of shame and disgrace for something that they themselves did. Most bullied related homicides are done by the bullied against the person or persons doing the bullying. Social media sites such as Facebook is the vehicle that drives most of the bullying done today. By no means am I saying that Facebook is the cause or blame for the bullying I am just saying that most of the bullying is done thru social media sites as well as the physical social places such as schools and recreation centers where people gather.

In Black and Hausman’s study one of the members describes an incident that spurred him to want to obtain a gun.


Shaquan (18) described his own dispute with a neighbor and the subsequent role of guns in the dispute:

I had a bike and this guy was doing drugs, he had stole my bike and he said, “I’m gonna bring it back.” . . . That same night I waited up for him to bring it back. That was on Tuesday. Wednesday he didn’t come back. Thursday he didn’t come back. So, Friday, I finally saw him. So, I was just real mad he didn’t come back for like three or four days. So, me and my brother seen him and he was high. I was like, “Can I have my bike back?” He said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go get it now.” I’m like, “No, you not getting on that bus, unless I get my bike.” He was like, “I’m gonna go get it now.” I said, matter of fact, “Just give me the bike or the money, ’cause I’m not letting you on that bus.” He like, “Alright, alright, alright.” So, the bus rolled past and he didn’t get on it. My brother like, “Where the bike at? We don’t wanna fight.” So, he said, “c’mon.” So we walked all the way back to his house. . . . He went into the house, changed his clothes, came back out. . . . He told his friend to go get the gun. . . . . I was like, “[name] you ain’t got nothin’ to do with this.” He on the stairs. So, he like, “I ain’t got nothing to do with it, [name].” So, he ain’t gonna get the gun. So, we all talking, arguing and then he pushed me so my brother hit him. He fell, so we both rolled on him. . . . There was this guy named [name], we knew, he came running forward with two guns, “Which one you all want?” My brother like, “We don’t want no gun, we don’t need no gun.” So, my brother like, “C’mon we ain’t hanging around here.”




But you’re looking good, baby,
I believe you’re feeling fine,(shame about it),
Born under a bad sign
With a blue moon in your eyes.


  • Gun Play, aka Flossing:

The first time feel of a gun can transform a normal warm blooded teenage boy or girl into a monster from styling and profiling with the gun in their hand. A since of power has just came upon them –an unholy spirit. This is where all of your accidental shootings occur. The mishandling of a gun as well as playing also known as flossing, when one points a gun at someone while holding it in a kinds of positions only to be mimicking what they see on television or the movies.

In Black and Hausman’s study one of the members describes an incident that spurred him to want to obtain a gun.

Kawan (15) suggested links between media role modeling of guns and youth flossing. Yeah, you listening to the radio, or music sometimes, they hear the guns, they all hyped, they go get their gun, they go get their gun, bring it, fire it around. That’s how accidents happen, playing around. Most times you listening to music, you just got a couple friends around, you listening to music, you happy right now, you hyped so, you playing around and got the gun in your hand, that’s flossing. . . . Some other examples are, The Godfather, that’s a good example right there, “Oh, that’s gangsta, that’s gangsta.” TV shows can have you hyped too. Next thing you know, he showing you how it went down, he all in your face. TV shows can be a way of showing off with the guns, too. They look at things like that; it got an impact on them. When they see like famous people do that, you know what I mean, that has an impact on them.

You want to be the Chosen One

Woke up this morning
You got yourself a gun




Spano, Richard “First time gun carrying and the primary prevention of youth gun violence for African American youth living in extreme poverty.” Aggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 17, Issue 1, January–February 2012, Pages 83-88. Web 15 Feb. 2013

Black, Sally, and Alice Hausman. “Adolescents’ Views of Guns in a High-Violence Community.” Journal of Adolescent Research 23.5 (2008): 592-610. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Bullying Statistics


CDC | Center for Disease Control and Prevention FastStats: “Suicide and self-inflected injuries.”



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