For Dr. Rob Gore, time is of the essence. Not just because he’s an emergency medicine physician in Brooklyn, New York, who’s heard the countless pleas of patients, begging “Don’t let me die.” But, also because he’s the executive director of Kings Against Violence Initiative, a youth violence intervention and empowerment program, and well aware that funding and support aimed at Black and Brown male achievement has an expiration date.
“Violence is a learned response and there are certain activities and actions that we do on a day-to-day basis where these learned behaviors become second nature,” he explains. “The biggest issue that I see around violence in our community is purely economics.”
“We know that incarceration doesn’t rehabilitate. We know that there is also big business in prisons.”
The social and economic plague that results in violence, Gore believes, is vastly different than those in affluent communities because he surmises black-on-black violence doesn’t happen in certain parts of Los Angeles in comparison to New York and Chicago.
“This is not happening in Baldwin Hills. This is happening in Bed-Stuy. This is happening in Bushwick. This is happening in Brownsville. This is happening in East New York, Brooklyn. This is happening in the South Side of Chicago. This is happening on the West Side of Chicago,” says Gore.
If the world was his audience, specifically black communities stricken by crime and violence, Gore would have two discussions. The premier topic would be economic development among high-risk populations.
“You have your willing participant conversation, those who engage in interpersonal violence and in the community they want to get out. And then you have the population that’s considered an unwilling participant. They are unwilling because they don’t know any better,” according to Gore.
The strategy for providing resources to both the willing participant and the unwilling participant that is completely different from incarceration is one that Gore hopes to develop from the conversation because as he explains, “We know that incarceration doesn’t rehabilitate. We know that there is also big business in prisons. If you have big business in prisons then you won’t divert a lot of money towards prisons. It costs the same amount of money to send a kid upstate as it does to an Ivy League school. Most people who are in the prison business want to send the kid to an Ivy League school but when you are not controlling that aspect of that business the conversation is very different,” he says.
Dr. Gore had the benefit of visiting Pratt Institute one summer as a kid. It opened his eyes to engineering and the arts.
“You hear a lot about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum. What we see in Japan and some of the other brick nations, such as India, is a big push in technology that’s increasing the economic growth in those communities. So how do we bring those same resources that focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math to people who otherwise wouldn’t always have the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities that engage and focus on those subjects?
“What are you going to do to play your part in developing solutions for the viability of out community?” Gore asks.