Another death by a gun, and the one before that one, and the other one before that one…you get the picture. Senseless deaths -- all consummated by gunfire. When will it end, are there viable solutions to these seemingly frivolous and callous crimes committed undoubted by members of the same society? South Florida in general and Miami particularly is no different than any other region or large-scale metropolitan sector experiencing this type of angst. Our African-American communities for the most part are disenfranchised, under siege, and reeling out of control. Sometimes it seems like life is snatched away from the good before they’ve had time to experience it. I’ve taken the time to talk to people living within the angst – the mothers living in perpetual fear hoping that none of their children would not become a part of the statistics that are continuing to spiral with each senseless life that is snuffed out. I’m at wits end and do not lack the means and concerned voices to back my claim that something is amiss, and change is inevitable.
Enough is enough! I talk to the young adults, the absentee fathers, runaway teens, and even the homeless to gauge their mindsets about this. Everyone has an opinion, and ironically theirs parallel mine. I, like many I’m sure, are fed up and want to see solutions, and see and advocate a method to the madness for change. I will give my opinionated views and offer what I think should be the ultimate to turn the tables to make our communities safe and the people therein accountable. The genesis of this essay came about with the deaths recently in my community; of two young adults erudite in their individual sensibility to thrive in their own world, despite the odds of rising above the statistics that define impropriety at every turn in not making it out of that sordid existence.
I had the opportunity to help a student write an essay in my class on this very subject, witnessing two of her friends, James Tisdale Anderson and Jeffrey (Taylor) Johnson Jr., succumb to this violence at the ages of 16 and 17, respectfully. Their goals were within sight, attainable and relished, but not before the sound of gunfire and the bullets altered their dreams. You can take any large metropolitan city in American and find the same problematic issues being discussed relative to soluble efforts to find solutions in our Black neighborhoods. James Anderson also known as J.T. was tragically shot in front of his house, an innocent bystander hit by a deluge of bullets intended for whom? His last words were a plea to his mother to hold on. How poignant but ever so tragic that such a brave young man dies so strong in spirit. J.T.’s situation at home casts a heavy burden on that same mother who was the second child that she had lost by way of violent means. What do you say to a mother who has lost two children before they reached adulthood? How do you comfort her? Who can we blame to extrapolate the changes needed? Now comes the story of Jeffrey Johnson, Jr. The situation is different but the results are the same…a senseless death at the hands of the ungodly where pomp and circumstance goes awry. Jeffrey Johnson also lost his life at a young age. Also known as Jeff, he was shot and killed by a jealous friend over his car at a graduation party at age 17, when bullets intended for someone else found its mark. Among all the things that were going on, Jeffrey still found a way to show self- esteem by putting on his cap and sitting on top of the car. As to say, “I’m graduating who cares about a car”. An honor student already destined for college we are deprived of another star student in the classroom that our society desperately need to dispel the notion that our Black boys are all headed to jail.
We all ask ourselves “Why”? To know this kid you would be proud of his academic accomplishments – and an honors student, and was the epitome of a young adult who was on his way to great things, always on top of his game and never one to became sidetracked. Jeff had fulfilled so much but still had so much to give. His death confused many, yours truly included. Life is too short to dwell in a moment, or to think about supposition. We are always saddled with the ‘what if’s’, ‘if I could have done this ’ or I should have done that’, then things would have been better. Time is NOW! My solutions are simple to stem this tide. I surmise that one should endeavor to live life as if it was your last, but do so with a reverent plan with God firmly embedded deeply into the psyches of those that need it most. We’re not infallible, nor do we live in an Edenistic society where everything is perfect. I can honestly say these two young adults and baby girl should be testaments for challenge and change. I suspect that because of the tradgedies that is indicative of this essay, a lot of people lives have been changed, mine especially.
I cannot purport to be a part of this environment and not be accountable for my actions, or the decisions I make to teach and be a respectable role model for children that may look up to me for guidance. This has been a growing experience as well as a dreadful experience for me, and I WILL make a difference. With the solutions I have, I know that comfort will prevail because they did not die in vain. Gun violence in any society today is a disgrace, and shouldn’t be tolerated at all. Our ancestors were no less daunted in their quest to make their particular communities harbingers of truth and citizens accountable to stability. I feel it’s about time for us to be vociferous and vigilant to make our elections and calling sure…with this firmly as a prerequisite, He will not allow things to be status quo. When will we take a stand in disarming those that are responsible? We are the people who can do it!