Guns and the City

Guns and the City
guns, pistols, rifle, revolvers, and ammunition

The second amendment gives U.S. citizens the right bare arms. This was essential during the American Revolutionary Era, when the British and Native Americans posed a realistic threat to invading our newly formed United States. However, hundreds of years later, we may have to revisit the amendment. It was originally intended to protect us from our foreign enemies, but now it seems as if  guns are  actually killing our nation from within. I wonder if the risk is worth the reward?

Over the past week in my hometown of Miami, Florida, there have been several fatal shooting deaths of children.  The most recent and probably the most tragic was the loss of of 8 year-old Jada Page. She was too young to have done anything to warrant such an untimely and unnecessary death. And even month before, because of the recent rash of gun violence in Miami, I had my  7th grade students in Brooklyn, write letters to students at Holmes Elementary in Liberty City, in show of support and encouragement, as they lead a protest against gone violence because they no longer felt safe enough to play outside, due to the constant threat of shootings in their neighborhood.

When 6 year old King Carter’s life was stricken down by a stray bullet, I, like many others had hoped that we would see a change or some type of reduction of senseless killing, but it seems as if our hopes have been dashed again. I prayed that these so called “revenge-seekers” would have more dignity and honor when it came to settling their beefs. But it is plain to see that there are far too many cowards with guns in Miami and around our nation for that matter, because it is not just a Miami thing. Gun violence is running rampant all over America.

But when I received the phone call from my sister, I was no longer simply reading about these killings in the newspaper or watching the reports from a screen. This time it was my family. My little cousin Christopher (19 years-old) was shot and killed last Friday. He was my cousin Rosita’s youngest son. She had already lost her only daughter Precious, to cancer 8 years ago. And now this? When I think of Chris, all I can think of is his infectious smile, his wit, his humor and good nature. I remember a bright and talented young man. Now he is gone. Days later, I am still in denial. You often read about this happening to someone else, but you never think it will happen in your own family.

Since receiving the news, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my cousin Rosita  and the pain she must be experiencing. I think of the hundreds of the other parents around the nation who have had to bury their children. I think of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice’s mothers. I think of parents who have children in the military, who receive that call from the U.S. government relaying the message that their child died, while serving their country in some foreign land. I think about the families of police officers who wake up to hear that their loved ones never made it home. And I think of the parents of the hundreds of children all around the nation in cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Boston and Brooklyn, just to name a few. I think about the yellow crime scene tape, the body bags and the visits the the morgue to identify the bodies. I think about the doctors, first-respondents and good Samaritans that did all they could do to stop the bleeding, but to no avail.

When it is all said and done, there is no coming back from death. There are no words to comfort a grieving mother or father who has to continue living beyond the years of their own children. Life is not supposed to be this way. It is an unnatural process, that no one is built nor prepared for. Furthermore, to add more stress to grief, is the economic burden of burying a child. When an adult dies, there is a chance that they may have an insurance policy that will cover the funeral costs. But when a child dies, the family has to come up with the cash or borrow money. And it most be done in a timely manner.

It is going to be a difficult road ahead for my family. And an especially difficult road for my cousin Rosita. What is the lesson learned here? What is the moral in the shooting death of another black boy in America? There is none. None at all. But this is why we have to revisit our policies around gun laws. This is why we have to take care of our communities. We must look out for each other. We have to raise up our children to love each other, not to fear and hate each other. For only love, can conquer hate. I will continue to pray and continue to hope for a better future and take action towards a better tomorrow.


If you would like to support, please visit Christopher’s Go Fund Me Page







The Difference Between Trayvon and I

It is almost laughable when you think about how many Americans continue to ignore the proverbial pink elephant in the room and act like race had nothing to do with Trayvon Martin’s fate.  However, I do believe that we would devalue Trayvon’s story, if we only focused on the obvious racial implications, for this case runs deeper than race and bigotry.

This case has exposed poorly written legislation such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground and how it can be arbitrarily applied. I lived in Florida for nearly 30 years and had never heard of the law.  As a black man, the way in which it was applied in the Trayvon Martin Case makes me very nervous, given our country’s history of racial bias in the courtroom.

Emmett Till, Rodney King, Sean Bell and now Trayvon Martin are all part of an all too familiar American narrative, of black men, who have been forced to drink from the bitter cup injustice. George Zimmerman is also part of another narrative, of white defendants who have perpetuated violence towards black men and have been let off the hook by our court system.

Furthermore, this case reminds us of the underlying idea that some peoples’ lives have less value because of where they are from or their position along the spectrum of America’s socioeconomic hierarchy. The continued probing and questioning of Trayvon’s character during the trial had nothing to do with the fact that he was unarmed and fatally shot on his way to his father’s house from the store. Digging up unflattering images and comments made by Trayvon was not only an attack on him, it was an attack on anyone who looked like him, spoke like him or grew up like him. We were all being judged.

No one’s fundamental right to life and liberty should be compromised because of the clothes they wear or because of the genre of music that they listen to. Too many of our young people (especially black boys) are simply snatched away from us with no regard or recourse.

To make matters worse, the gun companies have lawmakers by the balls, making guns entirely too accessible, inevitably, setting up scores of calamitous incidents, such as the clash between Martin and Zimmerman, resulting in endless queues of bereaved families.

Trayvon will never be the first in his family to graduate from college. He will never have a chance to become a teacher, a coach or give back to his community. He will never have a chance to get married, to travel the world, to become a proud father or be elected president of the United States. A little more than a decade ago, I was Trayvon Martin, a black kid from Miami, Florida.

A photo taken of a young Barack Obama smoking, marijuana. During the trial, Trayvon’s character and integrity were brought into question because he smoked and use the phrase “creepy ass cracker.”

So what is the difference between Trayvon and I?