WFHB’s Interchange – A Targeted Divide: What Bullets do to Bodies and Lives

Shooting in the vicinity of 7th & Arch Streets in Philadelphia (2013). Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek. Shooting in the vicinity of 7th & Arch Streets in Philadelphia (2013). Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek.

A UDIO: What Bullets do to Bodies and Lives

This is the special 90-minute finale for our series A Targeted Divide. It’s called “What Bullets do to Bodies and Lives: Structural Violence, Firearms, and Surviving Gunshot Wounds.”

We know a lot about gun homicide, much less about what life is like for the wounded living: What happens to those who get shot, but live? How does the arc of their lives bend? And what are the roles of race, poverty, and opportunity in all of this?

Our program covers a lot of ground, but chiefly we’re interested in common misconceptions about gun violence as portrayed in both the media, and that includes Hollywood and the music industry, as well as in policy prescriptions. We are daily confronted with false or misleading representations of gun violence in the US; there is the glamorized “movie” version that romanticizes the gunshot victim who survives as a kind of hero, a tough with street cred; there is the perception that mass shootings with semi-automatic weapons are the major consequence of gun culture; and that gunshot victims primarily die. We’ll dispel all of these tonight.

We’ll also look at the way healthcare institutions further victimize those wounded by bullets by assuming they deserved the injury. This pervasive moralism further exacerbates the pain of living with the after effects of being shot by literally withholding proper pain control medication and follow-up treatment for complications and psychological trauma.

To start, guest Jooyoung Lee tells us about how his first project studying rap culture in L.A. opened up a view into the world of the gunshot victim when one of his subjects, Flawliss, got shot. Watching what Flawliss went through led to his second project: studying lives lived after a bullet rips apart their body and their idea of who they are.

How one goes about that kind of research is important to clarify. This is the work of ethnography, or as Lee calls it, deep hanging out, a kind of extended journalism. The goal being to challenge the prevailing understanding of a phenomenon.

Jooyoung Lee is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central, an ethnographic study on the careers of aspiring rappers from Los Angeles; and he is currently working on a book with the tentative title Ricochet, another ethnographic study, this one on the individual- and community-health effects of gunshot victimization in Philadelphia.

Gunning Down the Bill of Rights (A Targeted Divide)
Crime, Decline, and the Rise of the Citizen-Protector (A Targeted Divide)

“Young Black America” by Meek Mill
“Block Episode” by Masta Ace
“Stray Bullet” by Organized Confusion
“Love’s Gonna Get’cha” by Boogie Down Productions
“When the Gun Draws” by Pharoahe Monch
“Clap (One Day)” byPharoahe Monch
“Stand Your Ground” by Pharoahe Monch
“Heaven or Hell” by Meek Mill

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Co-producer: Robert Crouch
Music selections: Jooyoung Lee and Rasul Mowatt
Edited by Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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