Opinion: Richmond’s Pain Pimped for Profit

Recent violence causing some to seek to gain from the city’s pain

By Rev. Dr. Alvin
C. Bernstine

It is with painful irony that I cite some of the current reactions to the violence being perpetuated upon the city of Richmond.  It seems that many are using the pain of people as opportunities to advance selfish agendas.
Pimping represents economic exploitation, under the disguise of having the exploited party’s best interest at heart.  It is a cruel psychological game where the weakness of one is leveraged for the grandiose enrichment of another.   Pimping actually uses the pain of one party to bring economic gain to another.  The pimped often believe that the pimp has their best interest in heart, even if the outcomes are in extreme contradiction.
This is what I see happening in Richmond.  The political leaders are actually using the senseless violence in Richmond as either campaign rhetoric or opportunities to enrich their coffers and leverage political opportunity.
The Richmond Police Department is receiving millions of dollars, and police are working countless hours of overtime, while perpetrators of violence act whenever they want and wherever they want.  Police who don’t live in the city are running up the clock on the city, while the violence goes unabated within the city.  I do not seek to minimize the presence and practice of dedicated police.  There are many wonderful police, who put their lives on the line for this city.  Yet, there are too many police who will be retiring on the violence of Richmond and when they retire the violence will continue.
Some leaders of non-profit organizations also pimp the pain of the people for funding opportunities.  Certainly there is a need for community based organizations, but not as mere disguises for personal enrichment.  Clearly, the violence in Richmond provides ample opportunities for grand- standing a false concern, while the ultimate goal is to seek funding.  The funding of an organization should not be the paramount concern when young people’s lives are being destroyed
When the local and national news media unduly emphasizes the city’s bad news for ratings and viewers, this “bad news” focus stimulates commercial sponsors for the media at Richmond’s expense.  Richmond is more than violence, rapes, and angry, misguided youths.  Richmond represents a wonderful community that has historically been exploited.  The media has a responsibility to report the whole story and not just the parts that feeds a frenzy of fear and community terror.
lthough some of the ministers of the city have responded in admirable numbers, their responses are sometimes tainted by strong efforts to impose individual and personal agendas.  .  No church, pastor, minister of ministry should use the pain of this violence to advance a selfish agenda.  To do so is a cruel and insensitive effort to pimp the pain of our people, and to shamelessly do it in the name of God.
What Richmond needs is a movement of compassion that will respond to the pain of our people.  We can transform the vicious cycle of senseless violence by exercising our compassion in ways that can significantly change the conditions that give rise to the violence.
We can pimp this moment as a miniature Katrina, where billions of unaccounted for dollars were sent into New Orleans to help people.  Yet, at this writing, the areas that were most painfully devastated by Katrina have not been rebuilt and the people most pained by the experience are still displaced.   Richmond cannot be the place where predators are enriched by the city’s inability to adequately address its pain.  We have a responsibility to redeem our people, not pimp our people.

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