Using verbal arts to eliminate violence

A reaction to stories I covered for work earlier this week… and a possible solution to a human problem. 


(During a Commute Home)—So my workday was going pretty well, for the most part. And then they sent me to cover the investigation after a shooting. So I drove to the Metro station that straddles the D.C./Maryland line where it happened. Now it wasn’t a gory or bloody area that we could see.  Of course, the police kept us far enough away from the crime scene, which was on board a train car. My guess is that it was to preserve the integrity of that crime scene so they can pick up whatever bits and pieces of evidence, gun shells and casings and you know, maybe bits of hair or fragments of flesh or whatever else it is that they needed in order to complete the investigation.  And they were looking for three suspects. And according to the pictures that I saw, that Metro pushed out, they seem to be pretty young people.  A spokesman for the transit agency told reporters the guy who got shot was a teenager. At that time, I didn’t know exactly how old, if he was a young teen like 13 or 14 or if he was an old teen like 19… That all had to come out in the wash.  And it did.  It still is coming out in an unfortunate wash.

Argument leads to shooting. So cliche. Why couldn’t they have bus(ted)-out in a parking lot rap… Click To Tweet

Turns out the shooter’s been arrested. Old boy somehow ended up in a fight with three other dudes on board a train, so he decided to pull out a gun and shoot. 

The next day, I learned the bullet ended up striking his 14-year-old half-brother, who wasn’t the intended target

So here’s what baffles me about situations like this one. If you’re upset at someone, why can’t there be a gentleman’s agreement or even a wayward young man’s agreement to make scuffles great again and fight with fists only (no stomping allowed) or go back to the days of the good old fashioned cuss out?  I don’t advocate violence, so I’d prefer the cuss out.  You know, where folks harnessed their verbal prowess and mental acuity to drag somebody, snatch edges or gouge a figurative plug in that tight high-top fade. .So why can’t we resurrect the ethos of those days and teach these young brothas, take the guns out them-there hands, and teach more of them how to be verbally petty, the art of dragging people through the Twitterverse’s dirt or the petty section of Black Twitter’s magic dust, but it does not need to get physical. And if someone has better word play and prowess… you know, just give them some props.  And then open the dictionary and stack that word knowledge.  But why folks gotta open fire and bust a cap in somebody’s @$$?

I am not an advocate of gun violence. I am not making fun of gun violence.  I get revolving emotions of sadness and anger with every violent act I hear about, call about, talk to a spokesperson or PIO about.  I prefer peace.  But since we human beings living between sea to shining sea and all around the world seem to have an overall proclivity to violence, I have to advocate something that isn’t tops on my problem-solving list, but could help some folks dispel some energy… enough to stop the damn violence.  At least that’s what my naive tail thinks.. and hopes. 

But maybe I’m just stuck on naive.  I forgot about another story from that same day. Some dude reportedly set a fire after arguing with a someone he knows.  Police said in a press release that the dude assaulted the woman (I’m guessing she was an adult), set the fire then pushed a stroller toward the fire… with a baby inside the stroller. 

What in the WORLD? 

My imagination tells me there was probably some cussing involved during their argument.   Okay….  Heated fussing is not at the top of my problem solving list these days, but what if things just stopped there?  Dude probably wouldn’t be in jail facing several felony charges.   

Then I read about a shooting at a soul-food restaurant in L.A.  According to NBC Los Angeles, two people got into a dispute over a parking spot outside the restaurant. Then shooting.  

What the what? 

Two restaurant employees were shot, but they’re expected to be okay…. As okay as you can get after you’ve been shot,  I suppose. 

Argument leads to shooting.  So cliche.  Why couldn’t they have bus(ted)-out in a parking lot rap battle instead?  Argue over parking spot.  Bring in the rhythm.  Rap it out.  Loser has to park elsewhere and pays for the winner’s Collard Greens and Mac and Cheese sides.  All they had to do was crank up the car stereos…. Maybe a “So Gone” parking slot/soul food sides challenge.  Something. Anything. But why pull the guns?

Nope, not an advocate of violence.  If folks are too angry for a rap battle, that’s where the Good Old-Fashioned Cuss Out (GOFCO) comes in handy. Now, I can’t say that I’ve ever really cussed anyone out myself, because I’m sure all the deaconess in my church from my childhood—you know, the white-gloved ladies who wear that little pill-box hats with the netting veil hanging over their eyes—I’m sure they would probably turn over in their graves. They only need to roll on their sides because I have partially-cussed folks out.

I just don’t understand. Why can’t we humans just use our words? Why can’t we just vehemently cuss somebody out until we get red in the face, huffin’ and puffin and we cuss so tough we blow their verbal house down? Why can’t we just do that? Please, let’s figure out a way to do that. And then the other person can retaliate and huff and puff and get all scowled in the face and, you know, return the verbal barbs. And whoever is not the master of that verbal joust, just open the dictionary.  And pay for the sides. Maybe spring for oxtails.  And vacate the parking slot.  In other life situations, if it’s a fight over someone’s romantic attentions… well, if they don’t want us, what can we do?  Deliver a parting “your loss, fool” rap… or parting “your loss, muthaf#$%^r” cuss out and walk away.  Let’s live, woundless, to rap or cuss out another day. 

It’s so sad that I’m wishing for the halcyon days, the good old fashioned days of angry,… Click To Tweet

And If your lyricist skills are lacking, graduate from the collegiate dictionary to the unabridged version. Check out those word-of-the-day features of online dictionaries. Figure something out and come back with a beefed-up word game. Words with Enemies. How about that?  But please, people, let’s not shoot each other.  That’s why rap battles could work. The rap battle is kind of the same thing as a cuss out, just with a better beat.  But depending on the skill of the cuss-out deliverer, that dry cuss could be rhythmically on par with a fierce rap flow.

It’s so sad that I’m wishing for the halcyon days, the good old fashioned days of angry, scowled-in-the-face cuss outs.  But that’s preferable to gun violence. 

Bring back the times of cuss-outs so good, your drunk uncle would pat you on the back while adjusting his dentures before swatting that @$$ for cussing.  Cuss out so fierce that your hard-core granny, the one who always carries a pistol in her pocketbook, would bow down.  An iambic pentameter cuss out so lyrically solid, your English teacher would recommend you to AP courses (after a teeny bit of redirection, of course).

I’m not saying I agree with this solution. I am actually against the cuss out in my personal life.  But in a world where too many mofos are shooting each other, I think it’s a workable alternative.  After all, the 10 commandments say “Thou shalt not kill,” but say not a word about thou shalt not cuss-out.

As a church-going woman (who God is OBVIOUSLY not finished with because she’s encouraging folks to cuss others out), I am not advocating this-here cuss-out as a first resort.  It’s a next to the last one. The final resort is a clever insult over the shoulder and the walk-away.  It’s not a retreat. It’s a strategy so all can live to cuss-out another day.  The key word is live.

Draw the cuss words.  Just keep the guns holstered, hidden, in that lock box or shoebox.  Then we can worry about what the Bible in James 3 says about taming the tongue.

First things first.  Baby steps, folks.

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