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“Violence Can Be Reduced Via Education”

Posted by Admin On August - 8 - 2013
“We are not inherently born violent”

By Chinta Strausberg

In Chicago until today, Dr. Sampson Davis, an emergency room physician in New Jersey and author of “Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home,” late Tuesday night said the answer to reducing violence is through education and that it is important to let youth know they have some “skin in the game.”

In a late night Tuesday interview, Dr. Davis, who earlier attended all-time Yankees hits leader Derek Jeter’s,  ‘Turn 2” foundation’s annual conference an organization aimed at turning youth away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2” healthy lifestyles, said youth must be deprogrammed into believing the violence they see on TV is their code of conduct.

Speaking before 400 youth, Davis told them to make the right choices in life “and not get side-tracked” and caught up on the wrong side of life.

Dr. Davis knows first-hand about plenty about poverty, drugs and crime having been raised in a single parent home in Newark, New Jersey where he was surrounded by gangs and drugs. However, he escaped the criminal elements only because he “grasped and held onto” the few opportunities that came his way. “It saved my life,” he said.

The depression was at times overwhelming. Davis’ sister was a drug addict who died of AIDS. His brother is wheelchair-bound having gotten into a bar fight that left him paralyzed, but despite the negative environment, Davis made a pact with two high school friends, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, pledging to become doctors—an agreement they turned into a reality.  In 2003, Davis, along with Hunt and Jenkins, wrote a book entitled, “The Pact” that talked about how they made their dream come true. It was New York Times best seller.

In fact, Davis was an attending emergency room physician at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, which is the same hospital where he was born.  Rather than running away from his roots, Davis embraces them and takes great pride in helping others to succeed and not succumb to their negative environment.

“Growing up in that environment, I was a product of public assistance. I learned how to stretch a dollar at an early age. I was one of those kids who just yearned for the opportunity…and the few I did get I grabbed unto them…,” he recalled. “There are so many kids in these battered communities who are growing up under similar circumstances,” he said.

 At 40, Dr. Davis is concerned about the healthcare crisis many face in inner cities across America including the socio-economic maladies that keep so many African Americans trapped in poverty that all too often erupts into violence and down the slippery slope to jail.

In talking to the youth, Dr. Davis warned them about that vicious cycle saying, “One bad decision should not be the end of your life.

“It felt good to be here with a group of teenagers who related to my story, and I saw a lot of me inside of them at their age.” Dr. Davis took pride in inspiring them but also to “keep them motivated in the right direction.” Today, Davis takes pride in being a “beacon of hope” to youth, and he continues to practice what his mother taught him, to give back.

“I am so inspired to be a part of affecting change.  We have to make sure our youth understands the importance of academic excellence and that they embrace it, that they own it, and that they believe they can achieve it. That is the only way I feel we as a nation can have a society…where it is not one-sided but all inclusive,” said Davis.

Asked about the violence that is plaguing not only Chicago but in most urban areas, Davis referred to the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. “When it comes to African American youth, it’s almost like their lives are discounted…. That is why the Trayvon Martin deal was a big issue rightfully so, but before we can have people respect our lives we have to first respect our own lives,” Davis said. “We have to figure out a way to heal” internally.

On gun violence, Davis said, “a lot of it is knee jerk…that this is how we resolve conflicts…that we reach for a gun not understanding the consequences of pulling that trigger.”

He said they “don’t understand the longevity of their actions. That person is never coming back. They are gone…erased from society…like taking a pencil and erasing them off the face of the earth,” Davis said referring to the gun victims. “I grapple with that because it could have been me.

“I had a gun pulled out on me when I was 13-years old by someone I knew from the neighborhood who wanted $2.00. If I did not give him $2.00, he would have shot me.” Davis said the gun violence is “almost endemic…. No youth should be familiar with guns….”

When asked how can violence be solved, Davis said, “It has to start from within…from the inside out. It’s all hands on deck and each one has to offer something. We can’t be just sitting around talking about it. We have to actively be doing something and be accountable for it. We can’t depend on outside forces necessarily to come in and be the resolution….”

Dr. Davis said many times people do a lot of talk but no action taken. “Nobody wants to take a life. We are not inherently born violent.  That’s not reality and it doesn’t make sense. Everyone has to participate.”

Davis said when the news comes on and all you see is violence and black faces, it sends the wrong message to youth who may think that is what they want to grow up to do. “That is not true because there are so many prominent members of society who are of African American descent” who are doing positive things “but that is not shown enough in the media,” he said.

Davis blames poverty as the root of violence. “They are not focused on education. They are not focused on bettering themselves. They are focusing on surviving day in and day out because their reality is one of such that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from or worried about someone breaking into their home or doesn’t have enough heat in their home in the winter. They are dealing with so many social issues that they can’t begin to focus on education.

“The only thing I know that can combat these circumstances is education which saved my life. It allowed me to be where I am today. I have such a different perspective because of the grit and struggle that I endured,” Dr. Davis said. “Our children need an education” he says will serve as an alternative to violence and a pathway to a better place in life.

Copies of Dr. Davis’ book can be found at the following bookstores:

Copies of his book,  “Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home,” are currently being sold at: 

The AKIBA Bookstore at Trinity United Church of Christ

400 West 95th Street

Chicago, Illinois

773-962-5660

and 

Azizi Bookstore

258 Lincoln Mall Drive

Matteson, Illinois

708-283-9850 

Or, you can contact Dr. Davis through any of these venues:

www.drsampsondavis.com

www.facebook.com/erdocdavis

www.twitter.com/drsampsondavis

www.facebook.com/drsampsondavis

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com. 

Photo: By Chinta Strausberg

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