This weekend I watched two movies and I found myself pretty fired up by the end of the second one. The first was called “Bloods and Crips, Made in America” and the second “Sugar Coated.” A pretty stark reality was painted in each of these movies. Bloods and Crips was mostly about gang violence in Southern California and Sugar Coated was about the rise of metabolic derangement and obesity around the world. The cause of each of these major societal problems are complex, difficult to study and, of course, to “solve.” I found a similarity between the two stories and maybe you will be intrigued enough by them to read this entire post, or to watch the documentaries…
The end of Bloods and Crips was a relatively happy one. Gang warfare in Los Angeles has very signifcantly declined and no longer are there gangbanging, pistol toting teenagers wearing blue or red bandana’s running around the streets beating and killing one another with automatic weapons and baseball bats. Why did the violence stop? If you have a look at the history of violence in these neighborhoods where Crips and Bloods were born, an interesting picture starts to appear. A major upheavel broke out August 11-17 in 1965 called the Watts Riot when thousands of our National Gaurd had to be called in to help end the violence. There were 34 deaths and over 1,000 injuries. There were many factors that caused the violence including police discrimination, unemployment, housing discrimination, etc… After this, a revolution came to pass when leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and many other lesser know community leaders, along with good paying factory jobs with major complanies like Ford and Michelin gave the poor black communities something to rally around. Unfortunately, many of these community leaders were eventually either assasinated or locked away in prison, and the factories closed up shop and a new generation of black kids grew up without any real leaders to look up to and many families faced the reality of no real opportunity to bring in significant income. These kids were kept out of social organizations like boy and girl scouts due to their skin color and were forcibly restricted to their neighborhoods by corrupt police and aggressive whites. This gives us some insight as to why these gangs began to form… Another major riot broke out April 29th 1992 when the Rodney King verdict came in, where 50 people were killed and over 2,000 injured. No doubt that the Crips and Bloods were a big part of this violence, but it was not just gang bangers and this time the whole world was watching. The state of California vowed to make every effort to make changes in this dysfuncitonal and dangerous part of the world by investing heavily in these communities. However, after just a year of effort, they abandoned their projects and the violence, poverty, racism, and murdering continued… What happened to end the violence is both beautiful and inspiring. Some of the gang bangers who weren’t killed or locked away for life in prison had the good fortune to live into their 40’s and 50’s took a stand… They formed committees, walked the streets and found ways to reach out to the youth of the region. They asked them directly face to face to stop all the nonsense of killing and drug dealing and found ways for many of these folks to start a new direction in life. These mentors and role models showed them that there was indeed a different way to survive. What these kids needed was for someone to offer them positive role models and to know that there was freedom outside the broken down walls of their neighborhoods. Simply by standing up and talking to one another, choosing the high road, and doing the right thing for the right reasons, hundreds of families will get to grow up as a functional unit instead of watching fathers and brothers get locked up or killed in street fights.
Unfortunately, the ending to Sugar Coated is not a happy one. We are still killing ourselves, though not with guns and knives this time and it’s not just limited to a small segment of Los Angeles. We are willfully making the whole population of the earth sicker and sicker by the day… We know that we’re doing it and we know what’s causing it and yet we continue to do it anyway. Our very own governments are telling us that sugar has no known harmful effects. That sugary cereals with added fiber are somehow part of a healthy diet. We sell Coke, Pepsi, Hostess Donuts, and other ridiculous processed “foods” to our own children in public schools that we pay taxes to support. We are literally engaging in a kind of chemical/health warfare against our own people!!!
Here are some interesting facts:
74% of the items in our grocery stores are spiked with sugar.
There are 56 names for sugar.
Moderation is considered 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day. Europe is consuming 17 teaspoons and America 19.5. Teenagers consume on average 30 to 41 teaspoons of sugar per day.
In the past 30 years, obesity rates have doubled to 600 million.
Diabetes rates have tripled to 347 million.
And here’s the most interesting fact of them all… We were having the same debates and the same research was going on back in the late 60’s and early 70’s that is going on today!!! What will it take for us to realize just exactly how harmful our current dietary habits are and to actually do something about it??? I mean the gang warfare in LA may seem crazy, but at least there seems to be some societal reasons for it going on. But killing ourselves with processed food??? There is absolutely no justification here. Why is our own government still saying that sugar is “Generally Recognized As Safe?” Current estimates show obesity contributing to at least 100,00 deaths per year. When is the happy ending going to come about?