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Thursday, November 29, 2007, 09:33 PM CST [General]
David Aldridge DJ Kut Blog
Time to stop all the dying By David Aldridge Inquirer Columnist
If you want to debate which quarterback is best for the Eagles, please, go read somebody else. This morning, I don't give a damn. My concern today is not whether Donovan starts Sunday but whether Dontae down the block is going to be alive in a year.Black men, I need your attention.This means you, Jimmy Rollins.Mr. Cosby, give me a minute.
I'm talking both to Beasley Reece and the guy who drives the downtown bus.
Will Smith and the electrician fixing the wiring at City Hall.
The pastor at the Baptist church.
The waiter at the Capital Grille.
The pilot behind the stick of the US Airways flight this morning.
The teacher in West Philly.
The barber in the first chair.
The 14-year-old who thinks no one believes in him.
The gay guy.
The sergeant just back from Iraq.
The lieutenant who is going next week.
All of you. Listen up. I'm tired of seeing young black men go into the ground. Tired of seeing lives ruined by guns, and by drugs, and by bad choices, and by people like me who sit idly by while it happens, because it isn't happening to us. Rich men, poor men, athletes, beggars, journalists, L.A., D.C., Detroit,Chicago, it doesn't matter.
We are dying. I've just spent two days with the Redskins, who are trying to deal with the fact that one of their best players and team leaders, a young, complicated black man named Sean Taylor, is dead at 24, because someone broke into his home at 1:30 in the morning Monday and murdered him.There are those, including colleagues I respect, who say they're not surprised, and infer that Taylor had it coming, because he had had a beef with some bad people two years ago that led to brandished guns and cars shot full of holes. And, thus, it was inevitable that he had to die, like life is a Shakespearean play or something.
A Montague is dead; a Capulet must follow. It's in the script.
No, no, no. That is wrong.
As black men, we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by anyone - by the media or by ourselves - and accept the premise that one beginning means only one possible ending. Sean Taylor, while no saint, was not a "thug." He didn't grow up in the 'hood. He went to private schools before college. And even if he was a thug- whatever that is - or embraced that culture during one part of his life, that doesn't mean he deserved to die in front of his child and fiancée, in his home, bothering no one.
I'm angry that people cry about Sean Taylor's death because he was an outstanding football player, as if his death has extra meaning because he had great closing speed. This is not about sports. We have buried 200 Sean Taylors in this city this year. We don't know what would have come of their dreams and hopes. They deserve our tears, too, for they may have been anonymous to you, but they weren't to their mothers and fathers, their best friends and lovers, their teachers and mentors.
I'm angry that, as of 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control, homicide is the No. 1 cause of death among black men ages of 15 to 34. I'm angry that the Justice Policy Institute found more black men in prison than in college. I'm angry that young brothers who like school and want to learn are accused of "acting white," and have to make the awful choice of sticking with their education or sticking with their boys.
It happened to me when I was 5. I've never gotten over it. How does one mend a heart broken by those who look most like him? I'm tired of nodding in agreement as I did yesterday when Brian Westbrook talked about how he has to be extra careful these days, because he knows that, all-pro or not, he's a target when he steps off the field, and his celebrity provides no shield."I feel as though everybody's vulnerable, to a certain extent," he said.
"You have to watch the company that you keep. You have to watch the situations that you put yourself in. . . . You can't put yourself in a situation where your friends are doing dirt or bad things, and then you hang around those people. 'Cause at some point, karma catches up with you."We can continue to throw our hands up and blame others or we can stop this genocide and deal with the recriminations later. In an otherwise demagogic campaign advertisement in 1964, Lyndon Johnson said, "These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God's children can live or to go into the dark. We must either love each other or we must die.
"What's it gonna be?