Sunday, March 21, 2010
Every time a teen looks in the mirror, she will see the V-shaped scar - a permanent reminder of the violence that erupted near her grandmother's Brooklyn home.
Shantayah Lewis, 17, sat in her room at Kings County Hospital Saturday, calmly reflecting on the Friday afternoon attack that left her with dozens of stitches in the left side of her face.
"My face is too beautiful to be fighting," Shantayah told the Daily News. "Fighting is not the key. Violence is not the way."
Shantayah was walking with her 15-year-old cousin, Shakeena Grant, on Franklin Ave. near Lincoln Place in Crown Heights about 3:30 p.m. They were being tailed by a girl who is dating the ex-boyfriend of Shakeena's sister, Shamaula.
"She kept following us," the injured teen said. "She wanted to fight."
After a brief scuffle, the 17-year-old girl who had been following the cousins vowed to return.
About 5 p.m. the girl came back with her boyfriend, the center of the beef. She then whipped out what witnesses said was a knife and started slashing.
"She swung and started stabbing my face," Shantayah said. "I didn't know what to do."
Shakeena, who was stabbed, was released from a hospital Saturday.
The two girls somehow escaped and ran to the Union St. home of Shantayah's grandmother, Cheryl Evans. The grandmother called 911 and the two girls were taken to Kings County Hospital.
Though the wounded teens believed the boyfriend was holding them down, cops said he actually was trying to break up the attack.
Police talked to the man, who said he was trying to help, and surveillance video backs up his claim, sources said.
Shantayah said the whole thing should never have happened.
"Basically, [Shakeena] fought for her sister," she said, referring to Shamaula, who used to date the attacker's boyfriend. "She should not have done that. We should not have been involved."
The young girl responsible for the attack was still at large last night and no arrests have been made.
It was Franz Fanon who said long ago that oppressed people oftentimes do not turn their wrath on the oppressor, but on each other. We see this happening more and more with our people, specifically, our children. Dr. Joy Leary has written a book about this called 'Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome'. In essence, her thesis is that we, as descendants of slaves, are still suffering the effects of hundreds of years of trauma. Listen to her speak about this on the video clip.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
When I speak at various locations, one of the main questions I am asked is ‘where do we start in changing the attitudes of violence in our communities’? My answer is the mothers—the nurtures of human life. They must learn to love an respect themselves and their bodies.Then we must un-desensitize ourselves to the blatant violence and sex that our children are watching. We also must rekindle in all adults a sense of moral outrage in the programming of the cesspool of immorality that is coming from the media today.
I know about gun violence all too well. I lost my three boys to gunfire in Brooklyn on three separate occasions. I went to three morgues, three funerals and three burials. My sons became victims of the violent, unforgiving streets where you are labeled soft and weak if you back down or walk away from a fight. Violence has seeped into every aspect of our society; from movies to television to music, to video games. Some of the recent video games that have come out do not even try to hide the fact that they are about guns, violence and death. Parents must do everything they can to protect their children, because an entire generation is being wiped out—especially young Black and Latino males.
Unfortunately, not enough is being done to combat this epidemic. Far too many people are ignoring the problem and burying their heads in the sand. We all must stand up together and declare war on this lethal enemy. We must teach our young that it is okay to walk away from a confrontation—you do not always have to win. Our children must learn that an act of violence is the wrong way to handle an argument or disagreement. Education starts in the home. But it should not only be limited to the home. This epidemic should be treated as such—schools, churches, organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls clubs, Big Brothers-Big Sisters Of America—should all make a concerted effort to work together and attack this viral outbreak as though it were any other plague. We also must realize that a large number of our children are afraid. They feel unprotected. We must re-instill in our young a sense of security and well being.
As I move through our communities, I notice so much pain in the faces of our youth. They seem so shell-shocked by the constant fear that they live with in their day to day lives. Who could really blame them; every day in the newspapers, I read about another child, shot, stabbed, or jumped and beaten. Our kids know very clearly that a bump, a look, or a flippant word could cause them to lose their life. Every time they leave their homes they have to walk through a minefield of guns, drugs and worst of all, apathy and indifference. It’s as though we adults have accepted this as our normal way of life.
We must get back to the ‘it takes a village’ mentality and protect our children; make them feel safe. When a child is shot, we must all take it personal—because your child could be next. ^