STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Actually, here are 13 stories from us about people working to stop "black on black" crime

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio

Yesterday, I reporteda story about a community meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to help parents and children in Grand Rapids avoid potentially violent encounters with police. The meeting was organized by the Grand Rapids chapter of the NAACP, and most of the people who attended were black. The issue of police violence is relevant to the black community, in particular, because black people are more likely than other racial groups to be subjected to the use of force from police officers. Especially deadly force.

So, that's an issue, and it's one we think is worth covering. 

But several people who commented on the story online wanted to know why no one was paying attention to what they deemed a far greater threat to young black people: so called "black on black" crime. In one comment, this was deemed a "less publicized problem."

These comments struck me as odd, because I know we've done plenty of stories on that topic in the past, and I've been to plenty of community meetings meant to address community violence, including "black on black" crime. 

As a reporter, it's part of my job to provide context and clarity to the issues facing many different types of communities. But it seems clear to me that many people who are not a part of black community groups, or are not otherwise engaged in working with black community groups, have some misconceptions about what these groups are actually doing.

Clearing up misconceptions is also part of my job as a reporter. 

So, to provide a reference and some context for the future, here are 13 stories we've done at Michigan Radio just in the past couple of years about people both dealing with, and working to stop, violence in black communities: 

1. Many Michigan cities are reporting a drop in homicides so far this year. Can the trend last?

2. One weird trick that's proven to help prevent violence in your neighborhood

3. Crime in Flint is down, but violence is still taking a big toll on young people

4. "Flint," a piece by two young poets from, yes, Flint

5. State of Opportunity special: The effect of violence on kids

6. RACE: If you think we're living in a post-racial world, think again

7. Be A Man: A story in six chapters

8. Our three-part series in 2013 about a violent incident in Muskegon, and the one woman who put herself at risk to save kids: 

9. Group seeks to interrupt the outbreak of violence in Grand Rapids

10. Trying to end the violence in Flint

11. From Gang Member to Hip-Hop Church Leader

12. Five Questions for Harlem Children's Zone leader Geoffrey Canada

13. Flint to use high tech tool to target gun crime

The truth is, even this list gives an incomplete picture of all of the efforts going on to prevent violence (including "black on black" violence) in Michigan's communities. We don't get to every meeting. But I've personally been to several meetings about community violence. I've been to one meeting about police violence. 

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.