blmWhere were they?

A few weeks ago, headed home driving north from the other part of beautiful Pasadena, one of my daughters, who was in the front seat of my car spotted a small gathering of people standing on the sidewalk. They were. in front of the low-income housing units that were once called Kings Manor but now renamed Kings Villages.

“Oh, someone else has been murdered,” she exclaimed upon seeing candles and flowers and she was able to recognize that the gathering of people constituted what in Black neighborhoods is, an all too familiar vigil.

And soon, some few days after, there was yet another killing.

But where were they?

We didn’t see any placards decrying the murder of the victims who were young black men. We didn’t see any marchers chanting the all too familiar cry of “ Black Lives Matter.”

In reference to these murders of these young black men, I heard the following from several people when I asked where the protest was, “Oh, the victims  were gang-bangers.” I was told this with a clear lack of concern.

Now, maybe these responders were just blowing off their own narrow opinions as to where were those people who are so outspoken against police and their slaughter of young black men in my community.

If the marchers and the demonstrators truly believe Black Lives Matter, why aren’t they on the scene when your son kills my son because he’s wearing the wrong colors?

Maybe the job of cleaning up home is much tougher than that of demanding law enforcement clean up their act.

The excuses for my neighborhood being gangridden and violent are old and worn. Poverty, lack of jobs, poor education, bad policing and unjust criminal justice practices are a reality, and always have been, Maybe it is time for all of us to start talking with the rest of us who we think don’t quite measure up and therefore their lives, even though black, don’t really matter.

My daughter who was riding in the passenger side of the car the day we spotted the memorial is usually getting where she needs to go via public transportation.

I’m asked quite frequently by Pasadena people that I know and who look like me, if I know what kind of people ride the bus. Well, mainly people who don’t have a car?

No, dangerous people who live in Northwest Pasadena, I’ve been told.

If we can demand that law enforcement respect us and stop their killing shouldn’t we be demanding that the family whose son was shot dead in the street and the family of the perpretrator not be shunned but instead be respected and helped to lead a more productive and socially acceptable life?

Police reform is essential. So is community reform.

Can the Black Lives Matter organization create a strategy to improve the value sytem and lifestyle changes needed by our  troublesome and neglected neighbors?

Of course they can. The real question is – will they?

When they don’t, who will? Black folk need to start saving our own. Holding up freeway traffic, as the folks with the placards who admonish the police have been known to do, have not helped eliminate the violence in the Black community.

The Black mother who told me she would never send her child to a Pasadena public school because she couldn’t sacrifice him, had no concern for the hundreds of other minority children who were enrolled in this school system that assures children of color a place in a juvenile detention facility and later an adult sentence of life behind bars.

Black folk don’t get the best education for their children, in part, because those who know how to make their voices heard have applied and been accepted by  some  quality priviate school.

How come the parents didn’t know the front spare bedroom was filled with goods their kids brought home after burglarizing the neighbors?  And when the kids got arrested the parents claimed they were innocent.

It’s been a mighty long time since we’ve seen a teenage neighbor boy with a lawn mower, blower and a trash can walk the block and get the folks nearby to hire him to keep their yard in order.

It’s been a mighty long time since we’ve heard the teenage neighbor girl with a dust rag and vacuum helping the elderly woman down the block keep her house clean.

Black lives do matter but if nobody holds the older generation responsible for putting our younger generation in order police reform won’t matter much because our community will continue to rely on the old and true excuses for not working to solve our end of the problem.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Greta Pruitt

    Shirlee, you have clearly identified the other side of the responsibility issue. It is clear our families need to take responsibility for teaching our children to respect others – and that does not just mean “others in our gang.” It means all others – who live and breathe the same air, eat the same food, and, hopefully, crawl into warm beds at night living peacefully with their neighbors next door. I, too, am tired of spending our time complaining about our ugly past without seeking the joy and the fulfillment of working together with all our community to bring peace and love to one another. Thank you!

  2. Jean C. Troy

    I couldn’t agree more, Once while living in South LA I was at the voting precinct for my neighborhood it was held at a public JR. High School I was shocked at the condition of the school and when I enquired why the school was in such a state I was told what did I care my Kids were in Private school. I explained that I payed property taxes for the up keep of the school, and my children played with the children at the school so why wouldn’t I care? The person I was talking to then mumbled some causes. I went to my school board for the district and filed a complaint. They claimed that no one had complained before. It took six months of constant badgering but I got the school cleaned up it took a county supervisor and a City council member but it was done. We can protect our children but it takes time and work; and the willingness to do so. when we as a people decide that our children are our most important product we will be surprised as to what we can get done.

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