According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, in the past five years, Philadelphia’s homicide rate has increased 36 percent and is still rising. Among the nation’s 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest murder rate and sees more than one killing per day.
Ivory Khalid, a senior psychology major and a former intern at Philadelphia’s Juvenile Court, Homicide Division, said, “The motto now in the Philadelphia streets is either ‘kill or be killed.'” By the age of 18 some career criminals have a record of 12 arrests or even more, according to her.
Upon graduation, Khalid hopes to find a job in forensic psychology. “I want to take the mind of a criminal and seek to understand them beyond criminal activities,” she said. “This field entails looking at background, traumas in life, relational experiences and dissecting the emotional and mental past of a person.”
As part of her internship, Khalid has profiled defendants and descendents of Philadelphia’s cruel streets. She’s assessed the background of why these men resort to killing as their solution to their problems. The majority of the men are black, some Hispanics and few whites with an average age of 19 to 21 years old, according to her. “These men didn’t have the moral infrastructure that an average person has in society,” Khalid said. What she means is that their parents are absent from their lives or incarcerated, or there is drug abuse. “Some murderers have experienced sexual and physical abuse, have been diagnosed with mental disorder at a very young age, one or both parents have been absent in their lives or they struggle because they live below poverty level,” Khalid said.
In the 1960s, the murdering committed by the black mafia created opportunities for the inner city so they did not have to pay taxes. The revenues from killings and drug sales were used to build Muslim schools and stores. Businesses in West and North Philadelphia were told to give up a certain amount of money in order to keep their facilities running.
“What one generation did in moderation, this generation is doing in excess and with no purpose in mind,” Khalid said.
“From birth, we are a bundle of potential,” Khalid said. “God has made these men to do so much more, but they lack tangible resources. This has caused them to be cut off at the waist.”
In their mind they only see two agendas: to provide for their family or get a reputable name. This is what makes life worth living for them.
“I remember that one man’s need was to get a crib for his child,” Khalid said. “By any means necessary and with no intent on hurting anyone, he sought after getting that crib for his child. However, if it came to a man’s life for the kid’s livelihood, sorry to say, the man in his way of getting his money would die.”
These men making a name for themselves live for the right now and tomorrow is not even considered. “They are affirmed by their counterparts from their financial and violent gain,” Khalid said. “Affirmation is a natural need for a man and the ‘hood’ gives these young men just that.”
In the effort to work towards decreasing this epidemic, on Oct. 21 almost 10,000 men gathered to increase the peace. They discussed ways to be proactive about the crime. They broke into sub-groups to impact each part of the city.
“The 10,000 men is a good start in helping to combat the problem,” Khalid said. “The mothers and fathers need to step up and take some responsibility for their children. That’s just the beginning.”