This week, in a community very near and dear to me—A gunman took aim at a crowd of boys and men finishing a basketball game. Three were killed, four wounded, just outside a Boys & Girls Club. A place where hot meals are served, literacy programs are breeding successful young children. A place where young adults are trained to give back to their community. This single gunman in a drive by shooting successfully murdered 3 of those upstanding young men part of a Step Up Program basketball game.
A day later, on the same grounds, the Mayor is interrupted at her own quiet press conference by a passionate, compassionate man: telling his own story. As news cameras turn he divulged information about his own life, his own community. Spiked with outrage his concern for his life at 56 years old—is not what illness will take him down but confessing his fear of "black on black crime" "every 32 hours", he exclaims another and another succumbs to this tragedy. The lovely Mayor, graciously allows him the soap box and he mentors on, the cameras roll.
Beauty amongst the tragedy. Courage amongst the carnage.
Day 1 the aftermath: Former Police Chief interviewed; the message is clear "let it go" work toward letting go of the violence by letting go of past vendettas. Gang related crimes.
Day 2 the DA reminds us firmly it is our suburban and urban duty to all come forward.
2 Days before the murders and driveby shooting: I pass by the Director of that same Boys & Girls Club at the grocery store—tap him on the shoulder to wave "hello" only—as he was deep in conversation on his cell phone. I spotted him and honesty could have walked by. I cash out in a very crowded store and a 7 items or less lane, to look up and see him waiting to speak to me—while he is still visibly on the phone. He asks me how I am and speaks to me about the up coming fundraising gala and the Capital Building Campaign brochure I am working on, he says "they love it" and the past chairman requires a few changes. He smiles. And continues to tell me how all this is happening while the construction of the new building/facility is underway and they are all in flux while moving will begin between now and that first gala. Still smiling. I think to myself and ask how are the kids doing with this exciting new change at the Club--"Good, good!" he says. We head out our separate ways, "see you in October" we both seem to say.
This is my community. And especially, now.
Up until mid-April I had been a long-standing suburbanite; not by choice but by accidental nurture. When my girls both went off to college last fall I started actively searching for my DT sanctuary. I found it and submerged myself in like a warm bath.
Our numbers are not good. 1 in 4 children in my county community lives in poverty. Our local newspaper reports 50% of my City's community lives in poverty.
We historically have one of the highest homicide morality rates. Violence begets violence.
Forgiveness must be made. Peace is what this community is seeking!! But their voice is unheard! It's overrun by bad words spoken of everyone; stereotypes and close-minded people who don't have empathy for what is truly going on here.
I have words for you—anyone who takes violence as a choice is always wrong.
Now, you have the gall to storm this castle while its walls are being rebuilt. This community is appalled. Listen, you coward and cowards everywhere: You've messed with the wrong community! We are resilient. We are strong.
My kind reminder: Remember our strengths. Remember our courage. You build your community. That is your "human" responsibility. Whether it is your "church", your neighborhood, your girlfriends, your friends' friends, your kids' school, your neighborhood YMCA, your local Boys & Girls Club, your workplace; your nieces and nephews. Kids are our future, period. Raise every child up as if they were your own.
Kindness begets kindness.
It is the beauty of the thorns you adorn that I adore and always will. That is who I am in any community I am in.
Just my rant.