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Posts by David
In an essay published last Monday on Ebony.com, eighth-grader Tania Williams explained how she’s been affected by the epidemic of gun violence in her South Side Chicago neighborhood. In her own words, the violence has made her feel that her “neighborhood isn’t safe, like the streets are a war zone.”
No one should have to grow up feeling unsafe in the place they call home. But Tania is living her childhood in a city that saw 506 homicides last year alone. 443 of these homicides resulted from guns, and 65 of those shooting victims were age 18 or under. Simply put, that level of violence is terrorizing.
Wait. “Terror”… terror… where have I heard that word recently? Oh, right. Boston.
On Monday, April 15, two explosives were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others—an incident that President Obama called “an act of terror” the very next day. One of the suspects later engaged in a frenzied gunfight with police that Thursday night and then fled, resulting in a massive manhunt that for all intents and purposes shut down the Boston area all day Friday, until the suspect was caught Friday night in the nearby city of Watertown. Anna Lanzo, a Watertown resident, called the area a “war zone” in the days following the bombings. (Sounds a lot like what Tania said.)
The continuous media coverage of the bombings and their aftermath made sure to highlight Boston’s suffering—a mixture of shock, confusion, anguish, and fear. News cameras and photojournalists brought the faces of these grieving Bostonians into clear focus, showing the world the pain and sorrow of these residents following this out-of-the-ordinary incident.
But why don’t the citizens of Chicago get the same attention, when Chicago’s violence and subsequent suffering—its terror—is perpetual?
It was around 2:45 on a recent Friday afternoon, and I’d just stepped outside for lunch (it had been a busy day). The temperature was a little warmer than preferable, but it was a beautiful day nonetheless. My productivity that day was at sky-high levels, and I couldn’t wait to devour this salad I was about to pick up. It was shaping up to be a great end to the work week.
As I made my way toward the café, though, my beautiful day got real ugly, real fast.
Walking at a hurried pace—as I was in a rush to get my food and get back to the office—I was impeded by this woman in front of me who wasn’t paying any attention to anything except whoever was on the other line of her cell phone. Seeing as how she was moving at a glacial pace, I started walking to the left of her so I could pass by her and keep it moving. But then, for some reason, she deviated from her path and also moved a little to the left—not to purposely cut me off, but just because she was completely aloof and unaware that anyone was behind her.
Her change of path caught me off guard since, at that point, I was extremely close to her and still walking at the same hurried pace. To keep from running into her, I stopped abruptly and almost tripped. As I was about to move to the right and go around her, however, a man walking in the opposite direction toward us told her loudly:
Watch your purse.
After a split-second of shock, I flipped.
Soon before sunset on the evening of February 23, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. But he didn’t bring this on himself—in fact, quite the contrary. He was gunned down in a gated community by 28-year-old George Zimmerman—the community’s neighborhood watch captain—while walking back to his father’s house from the store, where he went to buy some Skittles and an iced tea.
Trayvon’s actions seem innocent enough, right? Well, it seems young Trayvon was guilty of a crime that I didn’t even know existed: “walking while black.” Zimmerman, upon seeing Trayvon on his way back from the store, felt that the young man had a “suspicious” (see: African American) profile. As a result, Zimmerman decided to call 911. (Fair enough. If you’re scared, call the cops. Doesn’t seem like he had any real reason to be scared, but hey. To each his own.)
According to Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to confront Trayvon, but Zimmerman decided to get in his car and follow the teenager anyway. When police arrived to investigate, Trayvon was laying dead in a patch of grass, with a gunshot wound in his chest. The bullet came from Zimmerman’s gun.
The neighborhood watch captain claimed, however, that it was purely an act of self-defense—although Trayvon was unarmed and Zimmerman outweighed the teenager by at least 100 pounds. (Does anyone understand how that’s self-defense? I don’t.) As Martin family attorney Ben Crump put it:
When you add it up, it just doesn’t even make sense. Trayvon Martin, a kid, has a bag of Skittles. [Zimmerman] had a 9mm gun. Trayvon Martin didn’t approach George Zimmerman, George Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin. So how can he now assert self-defense?”
Crump is absolutely right. It doesn’t make sense—unless you insert something called “racism” into the equation.
239. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my total cholesterol level.
When I went to the doctor for a routine checkup a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get my cholesterol checked. A week later, my doctor called me and said that my cholesterol level was a little elevated. So I went in to see him a couple of days after that… and that’s when he dropped that huge number on me. (If you were wondering, your cholesterol level should be under 200.)
I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, though. Anyone close to me knows I have an affinity for the unhealthiest foods (see: the “Land, Sea, and Air Burger,” pictured to the right, that I actually ate a few months ago). And I do exercise, but only on occasion. And, last but not least, high cholesterol apparently runs all through my family. It was really only a matter of time.
Happy Birthday! You’re 63 today, although you really don’t look a day over 40! (Okay, maybe 45. But you still look great!)
I’ve already told the world how blessed I am to have such an amazing father. But to have an amazing mother, too? I must be blessed and highly favored.
As with any parent and child, you and I have our fair share of disagreements. But whether I agree with you or not, at the end of the day, I know you have my best interests at heart, and that you only want what’s best for me. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. The older I get, the more I realize that it’s hard (actually, almost impossible) to find people who will have your back no matter what. So thank you for just being there for me when I need you.
I know no one’s perfect, but you’ve been an amazing example in my life, especially when it comes to loving and caring for others. Whenever I’ve seen anyone come to you asking for help in any situation, I’ve also seen you do your best to help them in any way possible. So many people can vouch for your kindness. You’ve given so much of yourself and cared so much for others. Every single day, you truly embody what it means to be selfless.
Troy Davis was executed last night in Jackson, Georgia. You probably already know the details of who he is and what they say he did, but if you don’t know, read this. I’m not going to get into the details, but just know that I think an innocent man was put to death. And even if you aren’t convinced that he wasn’t innocent, you can’t tell me that the “evidence” was anywhere near strong enough to sentence him to the death penalty. In my most humble opinion, I think last night’s events were an absolute failure of the highest degree by the U.S. “justice” system.
With that said, I haven’t really commented at all on the Troy Davis case before now. Almost all of my friends did, though. Every time I logged into Facebook or Twitter over the last week, someone on my News Feed or my timeline was imploring others to sign a petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Davis clemency. After the board denied him clemency, though, people were asking others to call the Jackson District Attorney’s office, Georgia Judge Penny Freezeman’s office, and the U.S. Attorney General’s office to tell them that Davis still didn’t deserve to die.
Unfortunately, it failed.
Some will say it didn’t fail, however. They’ll say that, although the execution took place, attention was still brought to the issue at hand. But for how long? As much as I appreciate the outpouring of outrage over Troy Davis being murdered—let’s just call it what it is—the most painful part about it for me is knowing that by the time 2012 is here, 95% of us won’t even be thinking about him. I’m sure there will be some of us who will never forget this event, but by and large, the name “Troy Davis” won’t be on our minds in a few months, maybe even a few weeks. The only thing worse than an innocent man being put to death is that same man (and everything he represented) being forgotten.
I won’t get into the ethics of the death penalty or any of that; although I think it’s completely wrong and inhumane, that’s not the point. The point is that we can’t forget Troy. Injustices like these happen all too often, but it’s not often that they get the publicity that Troy’s case received. Let’s do our best to take advantage of all the attention and turn this sickening and shameful situation into a positive, and use Troy as an inspiration to fight for true justice. If we don’t, Troy will have died in vain.
My dad’s turning 65 today. For the most part, I’m happy for him, although being 65 also means that he now gets Medicare, which in turn means that I have to start paying for my own health insurance. When this came up in one of our recent conversations, I think we both got a little emotional about this extra step in my never-ending path of growing up.
Ironically, this month also marks the end of my first year at my first real job in the real world. After finding a job, moving away from home, paying bills, and claiming myself on my taxes, I can say that I’m pretty much on my own now. I’ve learned a lot from being on my own and having to take care of myself, although I realize I still have a long way to go. I just feel blessed, though, that I’ve had such a great example in my life of what it takes to be a good man.
Being a good man requires a lot of things. Strength. Leadership. Compassion. Hard work. Commitment. Loyalty. Just to name a few. I’ve seen all of this and much more in my dad across the years, and for that, I’m thankful. It’s impossible to remember every piece of advice he’s given me, but what I can remember is what I’ve seen in his character. On top of that, he’s also man enough to realize when he’s messed up. Given, it doesn’t happen often, because he’s on top of things 99.7% of the time. But when he’s not, he’s not too arrogant to admit that he’s wrong. Too often, men succumb to their egos and refuse to admit when they’re wrong, because they think that shows weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a strong man to recognize his mistakes; a man that can’t admit being wrong is just insecure.
What I admire most about my dad, though, is that he’s a man of his word. Thinking back on the 22 years of my existence, I can’t remember a single instance in which he’s lied to me. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without my dad’s presence in my life. Sure, I tell him that kind of stuff a lot (well, at least twice a year for Father’s Day and his birthday), but I want to take every opportunity I can to let him know just how much he means to me.
Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.
Being 22 years of age, I’ve had enough time to realize that no one can ever be perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. What differentiates some imperfect people from others, however, is the ability to move past these mistakes.
When we dwell on our mistakes for too long, it impedes our growth. After all, how can you go forward while looking backward? (Try it. Go outside and start walking forward with your head turned behind you. See if you don’t run into something.) You can’t be your best if you’re allowing your past to haunt you continuously.
But that’s not to say that you should completely forget your mistakes. If you’ve made a mistake, you need to look back, analyze the situation, and figure out what went wrong. It might hurt in the short term to take a good, hard look at yourself in the proverbial mirror and figure out where you messed up, but it’ll help you tremendously in the long term. Although experience is the best teacher, you have to do your homework after class in order to learn your lesson.
At a certain point, though, you have to actually learn the lesson and move past the past. Just let it go, and keep it moving.
That’s all. Just felt the need to say that. Hopefully someone will be blessed by it.
In today’s world, empathy is a passing thing. Just look at the disaster in Haiti. Hurricane Katrina. Virginia Tech. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Our attention spans for these kinds of events are getting shorter and shorter. That should come as no surprise, though, seeing as how we live in a world where things continue to move quicker and quicker. (For example, I just Googled the word “quick” and got 2.16 billion search results in 0.27 seconds. Quick.) As a result, caring about these issues and events often becomes just a fad.
That’s why I like the idea behind the Social Tattoo Project. The project is, in their own words, “making empathy permanent.” Here’s what they have to say about it:
Tickets went on sale today for Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” concert in D.C. on November 3. Once upon a time, I considered going to the concert, although I knew ticket prices would be a little high. It is, after all, Jay and ‘Ye. They have a good enough reputation to charge a little extra. But then I found out this morning that the cheapest tickets were $72. Floor seats were $276.
Give me a [BLEEP]ing break.
Let’s put this in perspective. One of those floor tickets amounts to:
- 33.58% of my monthly rent
- Four full tanks of gas in my car
- $21 more than what I’d have to pay to go skydiving again
- $47 more than a brand-new iPod Touch
- Round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for three nights for my upcoming Miami getaway
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Anyone who pays $276 to see these two guys (however talented they may be) perform is insane. But my gripe with the ticket prices goes a lot deeper.