Victims of V.I. violence: Today it is my cousin; tomorrow is it your son?

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On Nov. 30, 2012, I lost one of my young male cousins to gun violence. He has become another victim and a painful reminder of the violent crimes committed in the community.

I use the word "victim" because he succumbed to what seems to be the norm among our young minority males, which ultimately led to his demise

My cousin came from a good home and a good family support system. He had people who cared for him and who taught him right from wrong. There was no need or want that he had that wasn't met - yet he and his accomplices felt that it was right to invade someone's home with the intent to do them harm, demanding money that they did not earn.

When young men decide to make these bad choices, they forget about the loved ones they leave behind to grieve and pick up the pieces. A mother should never have to bury her child. I am truly saddened by this event and all of the others that have been plaguing our community my U.S Virgin Islands.

What is even sadder is the way that the community reacts to these events: Some will say that the perpetrators "got what they deserved" or "we need more police on the street," or they just ignore it and become so numb that they no longer care.

Violence begets violence, so until we get to the root of the problems and understand why these young men are making such bad decisions, the vicious cycle will continue.

Today, my cousin. Tomorrow, your son or someone you hold dear to your heart will become another statistic.

We can continue to point fingers at the government, the schools, the lack of education, the lack of jobs and even the economy. However, until we get up and stand up for our right as a people to live in a safe community - and demand a change that doesn't involve more violence and our young men behind bars - we will be nothing more than a community that turns its back on itself.

In this sadness, I believe that it is my duty as a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend to share my words and hope that our community will wake up out of our coma and make a change.

We must be ambitious enough to protect our own interests. We can and we must make our community better - a place we will be proud to call home. My Islands, your Islands , our U.S Virgin Islands.

- J'kiwa Goodwin, St.Croix

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