Saturday, December 26, 2009

In The Search For Peace, We Must All Look Within.

You hear and see it all the time, young kids using the term, “Peace” or “Peace Out” when talking to their friends. But to many, the term, PEACE, is only a slogan that they use flippantly—without really understanding what they say. Because, being about peace is about consciously living your life in a peaceful manner. It means going out of your way to be peaceful.

But then again, I guess they are only doing what we grownups do—just spouting lip service when it comes to peace. Just talking the talk, but rarely walking the walk. We want our children to live in peace, but everywhere they turn, they see a world of violent chaos. From wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to extreme violence in just about every aspect of our Mainstream Media. They see Dads cursing and threatening the umpires in Little League and Moms swearing at other drivers who cut them off on the freeway.

So when we watch the horrific video of Derrion Albert’s murder, by young teens who look just like him; and who should be mostly concerned about midterms and sports and school dances, instead of gang fights and weapons and beefs, why do we always go into a state of shock? We knee-jerk and call for more cops and tougher prison sentences. Then we put flowers and candles to make us feel like we’re doing something, and after a short period, we go back to sleep.

I say that to say this: In The Search For Peace, We Must All Look Within—first! If we adults start living lives of peace, then it will eventually snowball and trickle down to the youth. If we counter and balance the violence in movies, with movies like ‘Nothing But A Man’ (Pictured Above)—a movie that shows a Black man and woman struggling together to survive and get ahead in life. The couple, played by Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln, have the deck stacked against them, but together they face their problems and grow stronger in the end. Even though they are faced with so many obstacles, they remain together and deal with their issues. And throughout this ordeal, they keep their dignity and self-respect for themselves and each other.

The quest for peace must begin with each individual. I will close this post with my poem, ‘Peace Begins Within’.

Peace Begins Within

How do we find peace in a time of war?

How do we show love in a time of hate?

How do we find a way to show kindness

And not be taken for weakness?

It begins within

It begins with loving yourself into a peaceful tranquility

We are all children of God, sublime creations of our Creator

Our bodies are living temples and testaments to his plan

Once we become like our Creator

And start loving ourselves like He loves us

We begin to realize that by killing another

We are killing our self

Our Self


Love is the eternal answer to the eternal question

Loving yourself permeates love for other human beings

In the angelic faces of our children, I see God

We must show them

Peace begins within.

Rob Batista—Copyright 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It was on page 23. A small 3 column article at the bottom of the page that the reporters can probably turn out in their sleep because of the frequency. Only the streets and names change. "Man fatally shot near Paterson's Harlem home". Like I said, it was buried deep in the paper; well after the latest on Tiger Woods and the White House crashers. It was even after a picture of A-Rod and Kate hanging out in London. And also a big write-up of John Gotti Jr. coming home for Christmas. There was also a pic and article of Marilyn Monroe allegedly smoking ganja way back in the fifties. All of these articles came before the tragic story of Kwame Dancey.

Kwame was only 22, so to me, it is misleading to say that a "man" was shot; he was still a kid as far as I am concerned. There was probably so much of life that he still hadn't accomplished. There were probably so many places he hadn't visited and so many things he still hadn't done in life. No, at 22, he was still a youth--and I say this with no disrespect.

Disrespect, what an intriguiging word. The article said that Kwame lived with his father who was a correction officer. His friends described him as a college student from a good family. "He was a good kid who was going to college and wasn't into gangs or drugs," a man who knew him named Malik Finney said. The article said someone walked up to him and shot him intentionally. "He was the intended target," a source said. So someone was mad enough at young Kwame that he shot him like a dog on the street.

So many of our young boys are killed for something as trivial as disrespect. It seems that when you feel powerless, respect is very important. For many of our young Black and Latino males who have been shown a lack of respect by the system and by people in power, getting disrespected by their peers--by people who look like them and in essence, are in the same boat they're in--is unacceptable. Respect is something you can get killed over. You can get killed for stepping on somebody's toe, or for dancing with the wrong girl at a party. The crazy thing is, you can get killed and not even know why because what you may not give a second thought to, someone else can seethe over and explode. Because many times, respect, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

I am not saying that this is why Kwame was killed. All I am saying is that in the newspaper article, everybody they interviewed said he was a good guy who was in college and was basically doing the right thing. So I believe it was a perceived lack of respect by his killer that led to his death. We are living in insane times and I really feel a cultural mental illness has taken over many of our youth. Over a period of time, a lot of our young have lost the ability to rationalize, sympathize and compromise. It is now all about their ego--they are the only ones that matter. And if they feel any twinge of jealousy or envy, or yes, disrespect, they will lash out. And to hell with everybody else.

Rest in peace Kwame, you are my son even though I never met you. And until we all feel this way, the next Kwame Dancey is right around the corner.

Monday, November 30, 2009

T.V. is Fantasy to some, But it's also Reality to Many

3 Boys Arrested in Kick a Ginger Day Beatings


CALABASAS -- Sheriff's officials say three boys have been arrested in connection with at least seven attacks on red-haired students at a local middle school after a Facebook group announced "Kick a Ginger Day."

Two 12-year-old students at A.E. Wright Middle School were arrested on suspicion of battery on school property, and a 13-year-old boy was accused of threatening to inflict injury by means of electronic communication, also known as "cyber-bullying," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

The first reported victim was a 12-year-old boy in the seventh grade, said sheriff's Lt. Scott Chew of the Malibu-Lost Hills Station.

Investigators say he was kicked and beaten by classmates in two separate incidents.

"He was kicked and hit with fists in various areas of the body."

Several other students also may have been attacked, Chew said.

The attacks were allegedly inspired by a 2005 episode of the animated TV show "South Park" which focused on prejudice against "gingers," a label given to people with red hair, fair skin, and freckles.

(Watch Youtube Video)

Copyright © 2009, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Look At Outrage And Then See Why We Must Stay Outraged.

I participated in the National Day of Outrage in New York City and gave out flyers on the reasons why we need a "Youth Violence Awareness Month". It was good to see a celebrity, Spike Lee, participate and speak to the media about this plague. One of the most chilling moments of the rally came when a wooden coffin was rolled out into the center of Times Square and its metaphoric message was clear. The coffin was a symbol of the past, present and future. For all the kids already gunned down, lying presently in funeral homes and for the ones who will be killed tomorrow, next week and next year if this epidemic is not stopped.

I was disappointed that there weren't more people. There wasn't that big a turnout in New York and from what I saw in the news from St. Louis and Cleveland, they could have used more support, also. What I know is that it is OUR young that are dying in vast numbers and it is at the hands of people who look exactly like them. It is us killing us and until WE decided enough is enough and stand up and fight this, the shootings and killings will not stop. It brings me back to a comment I read on a website when it reported Derrion Albert's death in Chicago. The person leaving the comment said he didn't care because it was "just another black kid" that was killed. It's as though he felt that the lives of Black people don't matter. And if we, as people of color, Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow do not care about our youth dying on the new killing fields that are the urban streets, then why should anybody else?

Ironically, on the same day as the Day Of Outrage, the NYPD busted a gun ring pipeline running weapons from Florida to New York. Two Brooklyn men, (who look exactly like us by the way) were arrested for allegedly buying guns down south and selling them on the streets of New York. It was said a handgun selling for $200 in Florida can go for as much as a thousand bucks on the streets of Crown Heights and the South Bronx. So as one of the signs someone was holding said yesterday, GUNS HAVE BECOME THE NEW CRACK.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Every Day Should Be A Day Of Outrage! But Let's Start for Real On Monday

NOVEMBER 23, 2009
2:00 P.M. (EST)

"National Action Network (NAN) will be leading a National Day of Outrage to call attention to the nationwide epidemic of violence in urban communities. On this day, thousands of concerned citizens will come together from Chicago to New York and from Atlanta to Los Angeles. They will stand with a unified message that vicious, senseless killing in our communities will no longer be tolerated."
For More Information Contact:
(212) 690-3070 or

First off, as long as our youth continue to kill each other in epidemic proportions, every day should be a day of outrage. Ever since I wrote and published my first stories about the growing menace of gun violence, 'The City Game' in 1994, and then 'Street Angel' in 1998, I was sounding the alarm over our children killing each other. I had warned back then in my books and in my talks in schools that left unchecked, this plague of youth violence would only get worse. And it has.

I am encouraged to see that more and more people and organizations are finally stepping up and deciding that enough is enough. What the N.A.N. is spearheading this Monday should be the springboard in a major effort and mobilization in this tremendous battle. The reason I say it is tremendous is because just like the problems with our youth didn't happen overnight, solving this issue won't happen overnight either. The root cause of our sons and daughters killing each other is visible in so many areas of our society. Some blame Hip Hop music, violent movies and video games and the over-all culture of violence in the media. But you also have to look at youth unemployment, failing schools and a general lack of positive images in our current society. We tell our youths to not be violent, but we don't show them how. We tell them not to pick up guns, but in all of the popular media, guns are glamorized. In other words, a lot of us adults and parents talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

Our children are so desensitized and used to killings and death, that it's almost as though they have become numb, unfeeling robots now. They no longer feel the human emotions of sympathy, empathy and compassion. Actually, it now seems that they no longer feel at all. And this, to me, is the most frightening thing of all. Because when you look into the eyes of a lot of these child murderers, what stares back at you is cold, detached emptiness. Like they are no longer human, but characters in a video game who are programmed to kill.

Let's hope the day of outrage spawns a national mobilization of fervor to attack this epidemic with the same energy and hopefully resources now used to fight the H1N1 flu. Let's hope that unlike the candles and flowers that disappear from makeshift shrines to the fallen angels, the N.A.N. and all who participate in this 'Day Of Outrage', will only see it as the beginning of the battle to save the next generations of our children.

Rob Batista