Youth Conference Addresses Issues With Gang Violence and Provides Insight on Faith

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Raymond Henderson (also known as Nova Heartbreak) speaks to young children during the Stop the Violence Conference on January 10.

Hip-hop artist Sevin—along with several of his Hooked On God / Ministry Over Bizness (HOGMOB) label mates—provided insight as to why having faith in Christ can be a catalyst to change.

The Sacramento native suggested that true unity does not consist of people being alike and adopting similar values, but instead involves diverse people coming together.

“I grew up banging,” Sevin said. “I represented blood, and here are some of my homies—who represented Crips, Norteños, and Sureños. When we were on the street we were mandated to do each other wrong simply because of the difference of our cultures.”

“Look at what Christ could do,” Sevin said, in a strong, fervent, manner as he acknowledged his label mates. “How do we wage war on sin? We resist temptation by loving Christ.”

Sevin’s educational and religious motivational lessons were among the highlights of the “Stop the Violence” youth conference presented by non-profit music organization Creating Hopeful Opportunities and Resiliency by Developing Skills (C.H.O.R.D.S.) at the First Congregational United Church for Christ, located at 3041 N. Sierra Way in San Bernardino.

Dozens of youth were able to watch performances by underground hip-hop artists, such as Sevin and Daylyt, while community organizations such as the Inspire Neighborhood Center and the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) provided information on health and educational services to interested residents. Moreover, civic leaders engaged in a question and answer (Q&A) forum with audience members to formulate methods to reduce violence in San Bernardino.

C.H.O.R.D.S. chief executive office Edwin Johnson said the conference aimed to motivate the city’s youth to stay away from gangs and change the current state of the city.

“The main reason that we decided to organize this conference is due to the violence in the community,” he said. “There are many people that conduct marches, demonstrations, and protests. What we’re really missing is the education. It’s important we equip the youth with tools they will need to transform our communities.”

Johnson believes the availability of mentors is one way to get youth away from gangs.

“If there were more individuals to provide kids with guidance and empower them, a lot of this violence wouldn’t be happening,” said Johnson.

 

Raymond Henderson (also known as Nova Heartbreak) speaks to young children during the Stop the Violence Conference on January 10.
Adam Sutton (left) answers a question from the audience during a Q & A portion of the conference, where residents were allowed to ask questions relating to youth violence.

 

The Q & A featured six panelists: local music and video producer Adam Sutton, Janae Perryman of the West Side Newspaper (WSS), Kingdom Culture Centre pastor Jose Rodriguez, hip-hop artist Dirty Birdy, Young Visionaries chief executive officer Terrance Stone, and Raymond Henderson (also known by his hip-hop stage name Nova Heartbreak). Members of the audience were allowed to engage with the panelists by asking questions that focused on gang and violence prevention.

When asked if poverty leads to violence, most of the panelists agreed that it did. However some suggested it warrants no excuse to engage in defiant and violent behavior.

“Poverty brought the community together back in the 1950s and 1960s,” Stone answered. “Hopelessness and the lack of knowledge, in my opinion, is what exacerbates the issue.”

Another question concentrated on the problem of racial tension and violence among the African-American and Latino communities at schools. Henderson said the color of one’s skin or one’s ethnic background should not have any significance.

“I have a Mexican dad,” he said. “Both groups go through the same struggles. Plain and simple, people choose to be ignorant. It doesn’t matter who you are. At the end of the day, we’re all the same.”

For Sevin, the journey down south from Sacramento allowed him to bond with his H.O.G.M.O.B. label associates and spread the word of Christ.

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