Monday, January 21, 2008


I saw a young Black man the other day. All dressed in white, handsome face under a white Kufi, surrounded by smooth white fabric on all sides.

In a casket.

I sat and watched his face for what seemed like a long time, waiting for him to wake up, trying not to hear the stifled sobs around me.

I saw his peers, young people with faces bright with promise and shadowed by grief.

I saw Elders there, too, with faces of resignation and I could almost hear them thinking “Oh My God, yet another one, why did we lose another one, what did he ever do? How is it that our wealth – our future – is being stolen, lost in the bloodbaths that are daily occurrences in Baltimore? How did it come to this?”

I stared at him, knowing that there was a young woman somewhere who is now a widow, even before she had the opportunity to meet the young man who would have grown into her husband, father to her children. Generations were killed by that gunman’s bullet. Generations – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren – passed into never being when that young man took his last breath.

Killed standing at the bus stop, just trying to get home.

And it would seem shocking if the storyline were not so familiar.

And I can see the headlines once – IF – the killer is caught, the rush to excuse actions by invoking the tired tales of a childhood gone wrong. I can hear the spin on Black talk radio about giving the killer another chance because, after all, what good would it do to put away another young Black man, would it bring the victim back? Because “. . .two wrongs won’t make a right”, especially in a criminal INjustice system that is so weighted AGAINST Afrikan descendants.

We so guard our communities from the whiff of white supremacy that sometimes we even knowingly and willingly hide killers in our own midst.

Guess we feel that it’s alright if the only people they are killing are their own: us Black folk.

And we pay for that mindset by offering up our young Black people as sacrificial lambs to the Black killing machines among us, down-payments on the price owed for keeping them out of “the system.” Handing over our wealth – our Elders, our children, our futures, our communities – to those who do not value them and willfully and gleefully destroy their own: US.

Why do we give them that allegiance while they take the best from among us? And why do we save our outrage for white people, then, who are “only” doing the same thing?

As I kept waiting for that young man to open his eyes, to give us back the promise of his future, the following refrain kept playing again and again over the speakers: "Lord, make me more than I am. Make me over again.”

If only the killer had another chance to make another choice. If only that innocent young man had not been robbed of his chance to live.

If only we as a community had the guts to stop shielding killers who rob us of our joy, our promise, our youth-wealth, just because they are Black. In shielding them we have made a bargain with the Devil which robs of us our Futures as A People.

Lord, truly make us more than we are.

And help us to stop colluding in our own genocide and to make the investment in keeping our young Wealth alive and safe.

Moving Forward!



  1. Indeed.

    How long will this go on?

  2. How long indeed! I guess until more of us speak out about it and improve and strengthen our stuctures -- family, community, spiritual, other -- so that our young people are surrounded and uplifted by life and hope instead of being dragged down and seduced by despair and death.

    What are your suggestions?

    Together We Grow,