The Fear of God in em…

On the heels of my blog concerning the deaths of three black men (Derrion Albert, Sirmone McCaulla, George Woodard Sr.)..comes my afterthoughts.

Sitting reading an interview with Derrion’s great aunt on sparked my tears to run again. My emotions to take over. My heart to bleed…as usual. As I read this woman’s words and flashed back to the blog my boy Rippa wrote which had 2 deep videos from a sister named Joy the word “respect” resonated in my spirit. As the sister named Joy broke it down, “respect” simply means to “look again”. To take a second look at something or someone before you make a decision or judgment. That was so deep to me. I love words. I study words and their origins in my free time. I pride myself on having a pretty decent vocabulary…but to me, what is most important…is knowing that the wisdom is in applying the usage to your daily life. So learning a new way to see that word was soul-stirring.

Derrion’s great aunt said that parents should spend more time with their children and that so many parents want their children to be seen and not heard. That is so true. I remember my mother saying to me when I was a child that I didn’t HAVE any privacy to be respected…that it was her job to invade my space. To an extent, I’ll agree…but, I think that parents should give their kids more of their own voice. I fully understand that at the beginning of children’s lives…they need to fear their parents. Their parents are their “God figures” and need to fear them in order to create boundaries when they’re young to keep them safe. Yet, when children begin to formulate their own opinions and independent thoughts…it’s time to reconfigure the parent-child dynamic. Make it safe for them to come to the adults in their lives about whatever pressures they may be influenced by. When kids…especially teens, don’t feel understood or as if they can express themselves, they make alternative routes. All of the pressures they may innately back off from…they partake in to drown out that lost feeling. Whether it’s drugs, sex, gang violence, or other criminal behavior…it’s a way to numb the feelings of being alienated from home.

Early this morning in the 5 o’clock am hour…I saw a woman reporting for Headline News TV. Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell is what it was. She was reporting on the after effects of Derrion’s murder, and she said that a lot of the reason these kids are angry is because of home. She said there is probably physical abuse, alcohol, drugs, etc. She’s right in a way…but, I think other culture thinks those things are the ONLY reason kids act a fool in the streets. MOST black children caught up in gang violence or criminal ways are screaming for attention. A lot of these children’s parents had them when they themselves were mere teens. They’re overworked and underpaid. They’re most likely single parents and have either NO one to assist in keeping watch while they work…or the job is left to elderly family or older siblings. Either way…it’s not always the worst situation. Sometimes it is simply a matter of mom and dad aren’t around like they should be. Not because they don’t want to be, but because bills dictate a working parent.

There’s a lot we can and need to do to grab hold of our youth’s futures. Is it nicely packaged with no damage to parent’s egos? No. It’s raw. It’s a hard road. It’s gonna take a long time…definitely not an over night process…but, it begins “I” believe…with RESPECT. Parents want their children
to respect THEM, but you have to respect them as well. If you treat a boy like a prince and a girl like a princess…then they will learn to behave in the manner of kings and queens-in-training. I don’t mean spoil them with material or allow them to disrespect you…but, teach them their worth by example and reinforcement. Give them the freedom to be themselves and nurture their individual personalities. Protect them and make sure that the world around them knows that there is a lion/father and lioness/mother within arms reach. A child who knows that they have parents to put the fear of God in them…and protect them with the wrath of God…will respect life a little more.

But, that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

A Boy, A Soldier and a Deacon

WOW…that’s all that runs through my mind right now after watching footage of Derrion Albert’s beating on videotape. (BEWARE: IT IS GRAPHIC)That and a numbness. When did our CHILDREN become so vicious? No, I’m NOT naive. I was born and raised in Mt. Vernon, NY…where a LOT of my male friends were killed in some sort of violence. As far back as my boy Hillary Spruill, who was killed for his leather bomber when I was in 8th grade and how we cried during gym at the news of his death. To when my friend Jermaine Steele was killed driving AWAY from a girl’s building in our rival town of New Rochelle, when her boyfriend took aim at Jermaine’s jeep, killing him and injuring 3 of his friends riding along. I KNOW what crime looks like. What I mean, is when did they become so brutal to the point that you’d randomly hit, hurt, maim, KILL someone over colors, boundaries, gang affiliations…and TAPE it. I realize that whoever was taping wasn’t in on the actual beating…but, to hear the callousness…the casualness…as if he were taping a game is mind boggling. Maybe the “reality show era” is to blame…I don’t know. I still hear the young woman screaming for Derrion to get up. “GET UP DERRION!” Now…now, I’m angry and in tears. THAT WAS SOMEONE’S CHILD!! This world is over…it’s gotta be. When no one is concerned for the lives of others…when there is no forethought or moral code to reel them in RIGHT before the point of no return. To be so hateful to kill another human and walk away as if they never existed…yea, this world is coming to a close.

When I was in high school, our main concern was our looks. I just got through telling someone that my biggest gripe with my mother was that I wasn’t being bought Sergio’s and Guess. I was too proud at 14 to have purchased my own Reebok’s affectionately called 54-11’s because that’s how much they came up to after tax. I remember that my main concern behind my hair being done and my pants fitting tight, was my love of music and writing poems. I cared mostly about how my girl Leah and I were gonna get her to spend the night over my house…so we could go to my cousin’s house with whom she had a major crush on. I couldn’t imagine in high school, being afraid to wear blue, red or variations of black and brown. I couldn’t have cared LESS about whether the Hilltop crew hated the 4th street crew. Being able to have the same lunch period with your friends was the SHIT! NOW…they call my town “Murdaville” and recently in the summer…the entire town was on curfew lock down. What in the hell?

Derrion was 16. The age when you get that Learner’s permit for driver’s ed. The age when you think you’re the shit and people actually care. The age where your parents begin wondering if you’re a virgin anymore. I’m sure his mother didn’t think that her son wouldn’t return home that day. The last thing she thought was that her son would be publicly pummeled by a huge board and then kicked and punch until his life ran free from his body. WHO are these “children”? How can we stop/help them? Right now…my heart hurts.

Then there’s Sirmone McCaulla…a 28yr old young man, found dead in his girlfriend’s Philadelphia apartment. He took his own life after he’d taken someone else’s. Yet, that is not the totality of the story. He left in his suicide note on Myspace of how he…a man who’d been repeatedly attacked in separate random incidents had become defensive when approached with hostility. How, the victim Christopher Gutierrez had made it hard to walk away from their altercation. He stated how he’d been willing to walk away, but how Gutierrez had persisted in his aggression. Read the story here.

But, the kicker to this isn’t just the story as told by news channels…it’s the story told by a friend of mine. Rob used to date a friend of mine…and we still communicate from time to time. He hit me up almost out of nowhere, needing to vent. Sir, as he was called…was HIS friend and he was upset that the media had made him out to be a cold-hearted killer. Ironically, on my Yahoo messenger was a status by another friend who Rob doesn’t know. The status loosely stated for Sir to RIP…that she didn’t understand why he did what he did, but the she still had love for him and now knew that it was meant for them to see one another that last time at a party. Here are two people who don’t know each other, speaking so highly of the same man…and yet, the brother of the initial victim stated in an interview of how his brother was the kind of person if he was bumped, he’d pursue it. On top of that…add a man who’d been attacked several times before with soldier training and an aggressive opposer and you have a sad news story.

Sir’s story didn’t begin on the night of Gutierrez’ stabbing. This is a man who served his country, but was finding it hard to find a job after coming home. Not a story unheard of…plenty of vets come home to little opportunities to support their families out of the service. Perhaps his ending his life wasn’t just spurred by the tragic stabbing…perhaps it lies deep in the bowels of this society’s tendency to use the young to fight their wars and to fight the streets in order to keep a semblance of peace…all to be thrown to the wolves afterwards. Either way…another story that makes you wonder where this world is headed and how fast.

Last, but surely not least…a man killed in his own driveway in Huntsville, Alabama. At first, he was thought to have been an innocent bystander in a mugging gone wrong. Then it was thought he was in the middle of a scuffle involving his step-son. Finally, this man…who was a deacon in his church, loved by many, helper of ALL in need…was possibly killed at the hands of that very step-son. The one he’s taken care of since he was a baby. A man named George Woodard Sr.…a beloved friend of my Alabama sista, Dionne…killed for nothing. To hear her weep for this man was heart-breaking. To know that his own family could be the culprit is devastating. Again, I say…the world is coming to a close…or at least that’s how it seems.

Who cherishes life anymore?