Spike Lee isn’t the only person to propose sex as a deterrent to gun violence. Adman James Evans envisions a Chiraq-esque solution to the spiking rates of gun violence in Baltimore, Maryland, his hometown. The Marshall Project, in conjunction with The Baltimore Sun, reports that Evans hopes advertising the prospect of erectile dysfunction (an effect of some gunshot wounds) will prompt young Black men to put down their guns.
Evans has already raised $30,000 in grants for his research and marketing plan. He has already worked with Baltimore’s Safe Streets program, a nonprofit that trains outreach workers in violence intervention strategies, to develop the slogan “Stop Shooting; Start Living.”
Evans took a different approach for his new campaign. He imagines living for young Black men is about sex, fighting, and basketball, telling the news outlet, “Eighteen to 20-year-old men value their freedom. They value their sex, their sex drive. … They value the fact that they can play basketball or run or jump or beat someone up. They do not want to be in a wheelchair.”
Although Evans claims his new approach will be more effective than other “scared straight” tactics that target young Black men rather than addressing gun violence as an effect of systemic oppression, he ignores the scare tactic of his own campaign. One ad shows a pool of blood, 18 bullet casings, and a pair of scissors. The overlaid text says, “We saved him, but he’ll be pissing in bag [sic] for the rest of life… no sex and no kids!”
Detroit physician Tolulope Sonuyi doesn’t believe that any scare tactic is an effective violence deterrent. He calls Evans’ approach a “very lazy approach to a complex and nuanced issue” that plays into stereotypes about Black men’s sexual prowess. Dr. Sonuyi, a member of My Brother’s Keeper Detroit, has helped local hospitals develop a complex, holistic violence prevention initiative. Young victims of gun violence are placed with intervention specialists who connect the men to job training, social services, and community support. When describing his program, Dr. Sonuyi calls the young men “community treasures” and professes a belief “in the genius and power of our young people.”
Dr. Sonuyi’s sentiments are a far cry from Evans’ assessment of gun violence as an extension of Black male pathology. Evans estimates that a two-year national campaign will cost $250,000, and he is hopeful that a nonprofit or other donor will help to fund the project.
SOURCE: The Marshall Project