Friday, October 24, 2014

Endangered Species

Andy Lopez, John Crawford III & Michael Brown
The tragic premature deaths of these three young men, Andy Lopez (13), John Crawford III (22) and Michael Brown (18) glaringly illustrate that something is horrifically wrong with how a number of police departments handle dealing with young black and brown males.
These young men are just the latest of countless others who have been killed by members of law enforcement. Officers who although sworn to protect and serve, become judge, jury and executioner in the split second it takes to pull a trigger. I need to make perfectly clear that I am not accusing the entire law-enforcement community of racism or extreme bias toward young Black men, but it it obvious that a minority of them have an unhealthy pre-judgemental condition that is illustrated by these killings.

Young men of color are dying at alarming rates and no one seems to know how to stop it. The proliferation of guns that are seemingly pumped like water into the inner cities of America has created an explosion of youth to youth homicidal violence. With the rancorous cancer-like infestation of street gangs and drug cartels, homicide continues to hover over our young man like tremendous cumulus clouds filled with bullets instead of raindrops.

Antonio Smith Jr.
Black males have, in my eyes, literally become an endangered species in America. The three young men above are only a small sample of how they are killed on the streets and towns of our country. Through the plague of the so-called "iron pipelines", kids as young as nine years old are murdered just for being in the wrong neighborhood, as in the case of Antonio Smith Jr. in Chicago.

As I stated, no one seems to have a clear cut solution to stopping this virus. But, in my opinion, the so-called mainstream media (movies, TV, music videos…) surely seems to know how to keep the spread of this virus going. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prisoners Of Violence

As someone once said many years ago, we Americans are Prisoners of Violence.  

It is everywhere; horrifically real in tragic wars around the world and just as factual in the senseless daily violent acts that we Americans perpetrate on one another. And lest we forget the in the captivating, yet explosively realistic  manufactured orgiastic violence in Hollywood movies, television shows, and video “games”.

It is everywhere. And shamefully inescapable.

This is a requiem for two young men who recently died way before their time: Kermy and Boy Summa.

When a cop kills an unarmed young person, the justifiable outrage roars around the world. When a young man is killed by another young man on the streets of the urban jungles, it seems only the family and friends mourn.

This is a sad lament for two young men of color, who were killed on the same Sunday. One in a big city, New York, the other in a small one, Jersey City.

Aspiring rapper Francisco Mercedez (29, pictured right) was shot in New York along with his manager, Kenny Jimenez in a drive-by shooting outside a deli in Hamilton Heights. The shooting happened about 3 A.M. Mercedez, whose rapper name was Boy Summa Benz, had supposedly just been at a release party for an album in Connecticut before he had come back to New York. A friend stated that Mercedez’ rap lyrics were all considered to be positive and that Jimenez was his manager. The two of them were working hard to get out of the neighborhood and do it the good way.

In Jersey City:

22-year-old  Kermy Amparo-Berroa (pictured left) was pronounced dead shortly after 5 a.m. after he was stabbed outside a birthday party on Manhattan Avenue, in Jersey City Heights. Just before 4 a.m. Sunday morning, Jersey City Police were dispatched to a report of a stabbing in the area of 48 Manhattan Ave. When officers arrived they found emergency medical services treating Amparo-Berroa for life-threating stab wounds to his upper body. Amparo-Berroa was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center, where he later died.

One young man may have been targeted and the other seems to have randomly crossed paths with a drunk group of thugs looking for a fight. The persons who killed these young men also destroyed their mothers and fathers and family. They will live on, but they will be dead inside; suffering a wound that can never, ever be healed.

Below is a candlelight vigil for Kermy Amparo-Berroa near his home in North Bergen. Eventually, the flames will burn out, just like the lives of all the children who have died violently in America.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Scarface in Blackface--The Unreality of our Youth's Reality.

I Came across this video and first thought it was something out of the early nineties when Boys N Da Hood and so called "Gangsta Rap" was the flava. Then I realized this is this artist's new video and was posted 2 days ago.

Sometimes, words cannot express what the picture tells. This is one of those times.

God save our young men. #Godsaveouryoungmen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Please, Thank You and Excuse Me.

Please, Thank You and Excuse Me.

Such simple words. But to get most people to say them, especially young people and teens, it’s like pulling teeth.

Recently, a girl about 19 years old asked if she could use my cell phone to make an important call being that her phone’s battery had died. I let her use my phone and when she was done, she handed it back to me and started to walk away. I called out to her and told her she had forgotten to say “Thank You”. She then proceeded to give me what I perceived to be a half-hearted, insincere “Thanks” and was on her way. Another day, I was on the train going to work. A man brushed against a woman in a rush to get a seat and almost knocked her down. He did not bother to say excuse me. The woman objected to his behavior and a volatile argument ensued. It started getting really nasty and neither one would back down. And all I kept thinking was if the man would have just said a simple, “Excuse me” when he bumped her, all this drama probably would have been avoided.

Please, Thank You and Excuse Me.

I then wondered why is it so hard for people to say these important words? My first thought is they do not hear them at home; where good manners and everything else begins. If you are not taught how to be a respectful, well-mannered child from your parent/s when you are young, it’s more likely you will not have these qualities when you get older. Good manners come from good habits. Being taught early to say Please, Thank You and Excuse Me instinctively becomes part of our nature and we’ll use these words as often as possible to let people know they are valued human beings, who, like us, deserve high regard and respect. It is also at home where we are taught the most vital emotion of all—Love. We must first learn to love ourselves. If we truly love ourselves, then we would truly have love and compassion for all living things.

Please, Thank You and Excuse Me.

In my opinion, much of the world’s problems emanate from the lack of our love for self and love for others. War, violence, hatred and intolerance are, in my opinion, direct results of the lack of many people’s  love and respect  for the sacredness of humankind. 
I do my best to show everyone respect in my daily travels--especially young people. I get a kick out of how funny they look at me when I purposely hold a door open for a young girl or address a young man as ‘Sir’. It is obvious that we cannot solve the world’s misfortunes overnight, but teaching and reminding our young and our older folks to use the words Please, Thank You and Excuse Me would be a good start.

#pleasethankyouandexcuseme #loveyourself #respectothers #actsofkindness

Photo courtesy of The Empower Network

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

If You Want Eight Year Old Boys To Stop Making Play Guns, Then Dammit: Stop Glamorizing Them!

Another day; another young boy expelled from school for making and playing with a gun made out of paper. Another day, another new Hollywood movie comes out that, in my opinion, glamorizes guns. Here's the problem that, I feel, expounds on the hypocrisy of talking out of both sides of the mouth. Schools are on a mission to have so called "zero tolerance" on anything gun related. Then the next movie or video game or TV show that is geared toward young males comes out and is marketed in what I feel, is an aggressive in-your-face campaign with plenty of guns and violence.

No wonder statistics say that our young males are in trouble. They're totally dazed and confused on how they are supposed to behave and be like. This latest young boy's father served in the military and he and his son were talking about military weapons shortly before the son made the gun in school. So an eight year old boy excitedly discusses military weapons with his father and then gets kicked out of school for making one out of paper, and saying he's going to "shoot" somebody. Hmmmmm, I wonder where he got that from?

Instead of kicking him out of school, how about sitting the boy down and explaining exactly what guns are, and what their exact purpose is. Teach about the dangers and also the benefits of guns. Better yet, how about creating special classes or assemblies that educate on not only guns, but also violence. They can also discuss and correlate why young boys are so fascinated with them. That's when it could also be explained to them that Hollywood and video games are a fantasy land, that have their own mission to make as much money as possible, and they have no qualms whatsoever in using guns and violence to be successful. Let these classes or assemblies be ongoing and if a kid draws a gun or makes one out of paper, just give that child a little more counseling on the subject. By expelling the child from school, you are given that child the burden of a "scarlet letter" at seven and eight years old.

It's very hard to understand people when they talk out of both sides of their mouth.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Mother's Song, A Son's Tragic Death--Anesthetized To Madness!

This is a story that is, to me, the epitome of a tragedy in a place where tragic stories are the norm. 
Via New York Post 3/17/14

Verbena Burgess, 50, said she was outside belting out Chris Brown’s “Take You Down” when several young men across the street from the Morris Avenue (Bronx, N.Y.) apartment building where she lives told her to keep it down. The standoff escalated into two fights, the last one of which ended with her oldest son, Tony, shot to death on a building staircase. 
Tony Burgess

“The boys threw a bottle at me for singing,” Verbena said. “I said to him, ‘Why did you throw the bottle at me?’ 
He said, ‘Shut the f–k up.’ Then he got a piece of paper and threw it at me. I said, ‘I’m going to call 911 because you’re bothering me.’ “Then he said, ‘Call them. Call your sons.’ That’s when I rang the bell.”

Moments later, Tony and two of her other sons came outside to her defense, and got into a fight with the group from across the street before chasing them off. 
“When we started fighting, they ran,” said Burgess’ brother Shaquille, 20. “So we came back inside the building and they came back and they got inside our building, and we started fighting again.
“I was in the basement in the back with my little brother fighting one of the guys and my big brother was with two other people, fighting two guys, and one of the guys came in with the gun and he shot as my big brother was going up the stairs.”
EMS rushed Burgess to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, officials said.

This is a story that is almost beyond belief. I have to read these lines a few more times to actually grasp the meaning of what happened. After I process this information, what transpired was a 24 year-old young man is dead because he defended his mother who was singing and some punks objected to it. A young man is dead because of his natural in-bred instinct to defend and protect his mother. And, as what happens so many times on today's streets, a fistfight escalates into gunplay and another young black male is murdered.
More and more the self-hatred that young people of color seem to have for one another perpetuates itself. The disrespect those young boys had for this woman was only trumped by the rancorous self-loathing they had for themselves that caused them to attack the ones who looked like them and happened to challenge them. Our youth are in a perpetual free-fall with the lack of a proper education, a lack of employment and a lack of any moralistic conscience--all this added to the easy availability of hand guns in a city that has one of the most toughest gun laws in the nation.
Many outsiders--people who live well beyond the teeming city streets--must be shaking their heads at the insanity of this story. But I guess the ones who have to constantly exist on the "Morris Avenues" of America know all-too-well that this is the stark reality. These human beings are not only anesthetized to violence, but now--they have become anesthetized to madness.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gun Control is important, but how about also--Controlling Guns!

A 39 year-old father of two, Angel Rojas (pictured below with his wife) is dead because a 14 year-old kid with a gun missed his target on a Brooklyn city bus. Witnesses said the kid's gun was bigger than him and sounded like a cannon when he fired multiple shots at a rival inside the bus.

So once again, how easy was it for this young 14 year-old boy to get the gun? Probably as simple as getting a can of soda from the local store. It seems like the iron pipeline is still thriving, and making a literal killing in a city with one of the toughest gun laws in the nation. Until we stop the iron pipeline--until we stop the influx of illegal guns from states with weak gun laws that flow like a raging Tsunami into the streets of Brooklyn, Bronx, Chicago, L.A., and countless other cities, there will be many, many more Angel Rojas' who will leave wives and children barren and alone. 

Gun Control is important, but just as important is, Controlling the Guns! #stoptheironpipeline

Man, 39, killed by teen gunman in B15 bus shooting in Brooklyn

A 14-year-old fiend turned a city bus into a murder scene in the flash of a gun Thursday when his bullet meant for a rival killed an innocent Brooklyn dad instead, sources said.
Angel Rojas, 39, was sitting on the B15 when the kid shot up the bus at about 6:20 p.m. at Marcus Garvey Blvd. near Greene Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, cops said. Rojas, the married father of two, was shot in the back of the head.

The alleged killer and some other teens were in the rear of Brooklyn-to-JFK bus No. 4184 when an apparent rival boarded and started walking toward them, sources said.
“One kid pulls out a gun and he lets off a couple of rounds,” a source said. “He’s running out of the bus, still letting rounds go, and this poor guy gets shot in the back of the head. He wasn’t the intended victim.”