The one thing I want to make clear is while I’m in pain over the murder of Justin Davis by Michael Dunn, I’m not in any more pain than I am over the death of a Hadiya Pendelton and the distressingly long list of Black people who meet their ends not at the hands of a trigger-happy Dunn or George Zimmerman, but through random acts of cruel and destructive street violence.
Hadiya Pendleton was the innocent victim of gang warfare. President Obama mentioned her in his State of the Union address.
CBS 2′s Jim Williams talked to Hadiya’s parents, who despite their grief have been very busy in the past year. January 29th is an anniversary Cleo and Nate Pendleton dread.
Cleo Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, called it “the darkest day of our lives.”
“I don’t look forward to the 29th at all,” said Hadiya’s father, Nate Pendleton.
“I’m afraid of the 29th because I remember what it felt like last year,” Cleo said.
One year ago Wednesday, their daughter Hadiya was shot to death near her high school. The 15-year-old honor student was the victim of alleged gang members who fired into a crowd.
“We grieve always. Talking to you, we’re grieving. Talking about our baby is sad because it’s in the past tense,” said Cleo Pendleton.
The Pendletons will mark the anniversary at an after-school assembly with Hadiya’s classmates at King College Prep High School, which has been decked out in purple – Hadiya’s favorite color.
I’m angry and I’m hurt, but not more angry and hurt than I am when the 11:00 news is on and there’s yet another shooting and yet another dead body on the South side of the city where I live. I’ve written thousands upon thousands upon thousands about Black boys and Black girls and Black men and Black women and Black children who met premature and senseless ends at the hands of someone who looks like them.
To limit my outrage to White killers and Black victims or fatal encounters with cops marginalizes and trivializes the little murders that aren’t front page news, don’t spark marches or soul-searching speeches and commentaries or shake our collective consciences. Every murder matters to somebody and it shouldn’t take an angry racist like Michael Dunn to make Justin Davis matter to me.
In 2012, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote, “Taking on this problem is no civil rights photo op. It’s a campaign that could last as long as the U.S. military action in Afghanistan — America’s longest war. But the payoff for solving it would be huge. It could stabilize black communities…most important, a campaign to end these murders will save the lives of the thousands of blacks who are killed by other blacks each year, an effort that currently lacks the intensity of the call for justice for Trayvon Martin.”
Had Justin died from a bullet fired by a brother instead of a bigot would his death mean any less to me? If Black life isn’t valued and treasured and protected among each other we can hardly be shocked when it is not valued by anyone else.
I grieve for every deplorable death in my community.. The tragedy of a murdered Black child is not magnified exclusively by the White skin of their killer.
We can do better. We must do better. Nothing less than our the future of the race is at stake and when our children are lost to We can spare some family the agony the families of Hadiya, Justin and Trayvon live with every day.
To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, every kid’s death is a tragedy. The fact we don’t know all their names should not make them only a statistic.