Dead Black bodies are a growth business (and business is good).

michael brown_autopsy_

And we’re back.

I needed some time off and I took off. No mystery to it. I’ve written about dead Black bodies that only came to my attention when they ceased being live Black bodies. I could have lived a happy life blissfully ignorant of Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Ferrell, Justin Davis, Renisha McBride, Hadiya Pendleton, Antonio Smith or Michael Brown’s existence. Now they are part of mine. Despite never knowing them or meeting a part of them lives on in me and their restless spirits travel with me even as I wait for the next name to be added to theirs.

I could write every day for every last day of my life on dead Black bodies bleeding out in the street and never run out of material and I’m tired of it. It makes me angry and then it makes me depressed and then it makes me want to lie in bed all day long with the curtains drawn until its night again. How many words have I written over the past 22 years about dead Black kids where only the names and locations change but the details stay all too similar? I don’t know the exact number, but I know it’s been far too many.

Michael Brown and Antonio Smith were the last dead Black bodies that pushed me to and then over the edge. Ishmael Reed once declared “writin’ is fightin’ “, but these were the murders that made me drop my gloves. It’s not that I’m never gonna stop writing or fighting. How can I when I know I’m not going to throw a brick through anybody’s window or burn down anyone’s store or spit in the eye of any cop no matter how much I might want to.

You don’t have to smell the putrid funk of dead bodies to be sickened by it. I’m tired of writing worthless words which do nothing but make one man feel a bit better about the things he can’t stop or change.   Words are the only bullets in a writer’s gun, but depending on what the subject we’re drawn to and compelled to talk about we can fire for a while before we start shooting blanks. Dead Black boys provides a lot of ammo and Lord, do I wish I could put this gun down and never pick it up again.

Got no justice.  Can't rest in peace.

Got no justice. Can’t rest in peace.

Yet I know I will.   I always do.  In six weeks or six days or six hours there will be another Mike Brown and another and another after that.  Dead Black bodies is a growth industry.  I’m never going to run out.   No matter what else draws me away the certainty of cold hard steel tearing through warm soft flesh will draw me back to this subject time and again.

It will make me angry and it will make me mad and it will make me so depressed I’ll want to lie all day in a dark room with the curtains drawn and I’ll be thankful for only one thing: that’s it’s not my son or daughter.

I’ll pray it’s never my son lying face down in the street or my daughter staring up at the stars with dead eyes wide open that see nothing. I’ll pray for that even as curse living in a sick, sick, SICK world where any parent anywhere should ever have to pray “Lord, don’t let it be mine, let it be someone else”

Maybe tomorrow nobody will die.  Maybe nowhere in the world no trembling hostage will have some sadistic bastard cut his head off.   Maybe a Black teenager won’t get blown away with his hands raised hoping to save his life from a White cop determined to take it.   Maybe no woman will be raped or beaten or strangled.   Maybe there won’t be any war anywhere because maybe both sides decide to take a day off.

Maybe.   And maybe I’ll just wake up and wait for the next batch of bad news to come looking for me.

 

The Little Murders Matter Too.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

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.

Trayvon Martin’s parents.

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.

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Going Out In A Blaze of No Glory

Today a headline.  Tomorrow a footnote.

Today a headline. Tomorrow a footnote.

Watch The President’s State of the Union or The Last Day in Chris Dorner’s Life? Both events are predictable, but only one matters.

HINT: It’s not the loser who probably ate a bullet in a burning cabin. I’m amused by those who seem to believe Dorner is a modern-day Django. Well, sorry to spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it but Django rode away with his lady-love in the end. All Dorner is going to do is give a coroner a chance to see what his dental records look like.

I’m sorry Dorner’s rage has claimed a fourth victim.    I’m personally sorry for some of the utter brain-dead bullshit that Dorner’s sadly misguided groupies have vomited  all over Facebook and Twitter.   Hatred of the LAPD is one thing, but attempting to justify the murder of innocents is absurd.   I don’t agree with it and I will never endorse such a twisted vision of race, police and justice.

Chris Dorner is not a hero.   Heroes don’t shoot an unarmed woman and man trapped in a car where there’s no escape.   That’s gutless and it’s cowardly.

Dorner going out in a blaze of no glory was exactly how this was going to go out.     As a cold-blooded, merciless killer he deserved no better than he got.

That’s not the Hollywood ending the Dorner groupies were looking for, but life doesn’t always come with happy endings.

I only regret Dorner’s death because what comes next will be the inevitable deification and martyrdom of Dorner.   He doesn’t deserve it.  Not any of it, but it’s coming.   I  wish those who have turned this killer into a modern-day Angela Davis were half as interested in ensuring the gun violence Dorner reveled in did not claim and more children in Chicago and Newtown and across this bullet-riddled nation.

Whatever truth there was to Dorner’s manifesto is washed away by the rivers of blood he’s spilled.  Four people are dead.  He terrorized an entire city.  He’s destroyed families.  Yet some weak-minded fools can justify all of that because Dorner supposedly blew the whistle.  Most whistleblowers don’t have to kill someone to make their point.

Hadiya Pendleton is a real hero.   Hadiya Pendleton and those whose lives were snatched away too soon are the real victims.  You want Christopher Dorner?  He’s all yours if you want him.

But you might need an ashtray.

Today Chris Dorner is a headline.  In a week, he’ll just be a footnote.   A killer on the run has been run to ground and both he and his manifesto will soon be history.     The whining few who laud this twisted sicko as a hero will always be recognized by the sensible majority as the villain he turned himself into.

dorner_manhunt

It’s Not Wrong to Do the Right Thing

Hadiya will be laid to rest Saturday

The news that First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending the funeral this Saturday of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton is welcome news.   It’s the right thing to do and frankly, I don’t understand why some are criticizing the decision.

Where was the President and The First Lady before this?  What makes Hadiya’s death so special?  Because she performed at the inauguration a week before she was shot down?   Every gun death is a tragedy say those questioning why the White House cares so much now when they were so stonily silent before.

I understand why this is controversial to some, but I disagree agree with them.  I don’t want The First Lady or The President attending funerals for murdered kids for the next four years. It would be like attending funerals for every fallen soldier. They would have no time for anything else.

The First Lady is described as “heartbroken” over Hadiya’s death

This is a special case with a great deal of symbolic importance. In her own way, the First Lady and the Obama Administration is acknowledging all the fallen from urban violence and Black-on-Black crime. Hadiya’s case is particularly heart-rendering coming so soon after her having  paid respect to Obama at his second inauguration.   No, Hadiya is not “special,” but the circumstances are different.   The presence of Michelle Obama is an acknowledgment of that and proves the president is not indifferent to the suffering going on in our cities.

it simply isn’t possible for them to attend every funeral of every young person’s whose life was prematurely and violently ended without it being a logistical nightmare, eventually making their attendance a trite affair.  Can you imagine how much of a strain on law enforcement it would be to handle the security details each time the president or his wife attended?  The media would be all over it and who wants photographers snapping pictures while you’re trying to bury your dead? Never mind how it would affect the Obamas personally to in effect become “professional mourners.”

How long would it be before every family that lost a loved one serving in Afghanistan or somewhere else start wondering aloud, “My son died for this country, yet the Commander-in-Chief didn’t attend his funeral. Why?” That would open a Pandora’s Box of misery that would never be closed again.

I can’t believe people are so obsessed with polishing their Obama Bashing Badge and pushing their b.s. political agendas to demean the First Lady showing up to pay her respects to a dead Black teenage girl.

No, actually I CAN believe it. There’s always someone sitting comfy in a chair that knows how they could do a job better than the person who actually has to do it. It’s just really disgusting when it comes over the dead body of Hadiya Pendleton.

The critics and cynics don’t care about a mother’s grief

I am not in any way trivializing the deaths of Black people across the nation when I cite the cases of Hadiya Pendleton, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo and more for special notice as I have for years. I am never numb or indifferent to the unnatural deaths of my people, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to mourn each individually.

Not for me and certainly not for The President of the United States either.

The critics should STFU.  A young woman is dead.  The president’s family said they were praying for Hadiya and tomorrow the First Lady will be present to commemorate her life.   There’s nothing wrong with that and those who accuse the Obamas of a “publicity stunt” or not showing enough concern for other murdered Black children are out there where the buses  don’t  run.

They need to  stay there because they are miserable excuses for human beings.  Shame on them for their cynical exploitation of a dead girl to score their meaningless political points.

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Hadiya Pendleton performed for the president’s inauguration. A week later she was dead.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was an honor student who according to her father hated and avoided violence.

But violence is relentless in how it methodically seeks out and destroys even those who want no part of it.

A 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends after school in bullet-scarred Chicago.

Hadiya Pendleton — described by family as a “walking angel” — was standing under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire and fled in a white car, police said.

Pendleton was shot in the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.

 A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident. Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the intended target.

 “Never in a million years did I think I would get a call that my own baby had been gunned down,” Pendleton’s mother, Cleo Cowley, said through tears from her Chicago home.

“As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy . . . He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” the victim’s godfather, Damon Stewart, 36, who is a police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”

A sophomore at selective King College Prep High School, Pendleton had traveled to Washington to perform with the band at inaugural events.

“It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on gun violence.

“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the shooting a “terrible tragedy” and said the Obamas were praying for Pendleton’s family.

Cousin Shatira Wilks said the inauguration trip was the talk of a family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even more excited about something else: plans to travel to Europe this spring with the band.

“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said. “Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any problems ever.”

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

The day after Hadiya died, another gun victim, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords went before a Senate committee to ask Congress to actually make a tough call instead of talking a problem to death.

“Speaking is difficult,” Giffords said slowly and haltingly, “But I need to say something important. Violence is a problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.”

Also speaking was NRA Executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre running his usual rap about how more laws and background checks won’t stop criminals and only impede the rights of law-abiding citizens. It’s subject to debate whether LaPierre was there to testify or check on how the NRA’s money is being spent. Eight of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have received campaign contributions from the NRA including all eight Republicans and Democratic chairman Patrick Leahy.

There is no reason to believe “something” will be done by anyone on Capitol Hill.  Stand up to the gun lobby?  Question the priorities of the NRA?  Not from a  Congress populated by dopes like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) who doesn’t believe the proliferation of guns is any sort of big deal.

“I’m going to wait and see on all of these bills,” Alexander said. “I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns.”  Alexander, who is up for reelection in 2014 owns a 92 percent lifetime rating from the NRA.

Politicians that aren’t moved to action by White children killed in an elementary school,  aren’t about to do anything for Black children killed on the streets of Chicago.

The day Hadiya died she was one of three to be gunned down in broad daylight in the Windy City.

In 2012, while crime fell in most major cities, over 500 people were murdered in Chicago.

Thus far in 2013, over 42 people have been killed, the most violent January since 2002. Seven people were slain on one bloody Saturday.   Chicago is so segregated if you avoid the battle zones and stay in the nice neighborhoods and the tourist areas, you probably wouldn’t even notice they’re pulling bodies off the pavement two or three at a time.   If this isn’t war in the streets, it sure is claiming a body count like one.

It’s one thing to live in a war zone in Syria or Afghanistan. It’s another to live and die in a war zone in a major American city.   “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman…you took the life of my life, Nathaniel Pendleton said of his daughter, ” Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”

As young Black people are murdered by other young Black people, I wonder if there might be more of an outpouring of outrage if there were thousands of racist Klansmen behind the mass spilling of blood across the  streets of America.

But I recall there is no law, no agency, no Constitutional right that can make someone respect human life. Self-hatred leads to self-destruction.   I could paper the walls of my house with all the editorials, essays and columns I’ve written about young people like Hadiya.   Apparently, I was writing those words for the wrong audience.

A petition has been created on the White House website requesting the president attend Hadiya’s funeral.   He really should.  She was there to commemorate his second term.    Obama should be there to commemorate her premature demise.   It’s not the most, but it’s certainly the least he can do.

I never knew you Hadiya, but I cried for you little sister.   I’m crying for you now.  Tears of pain.  Tears of anger.   Tears of bitterness.  Tears of rage.

“You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”

~ James Baldwin

Look familiar?  It should.

Look familiar? It should.