While a hearty group of men, women and children converged in Southeast for the annual King Parade and other related festivities on Monday, Jan. 15, one 13-year-old boy who had dreamed of becoming a professional football player and had already chosen his all-white outfit for his senior prom, lost his life in a hail of bullets along Minnesota Avenue and 18th Street.
The young boy, Steven Slaughter, had been walking home from a 7-Eleven with his friends when gunshots rang out, causing Steven and his buddies to run for cover. Witnesses say they heard at least five shots and believe they may have come from automatic weapons.
However, the real tragedy remains that once again another family must mourn the sudden loss of a child whose dreams will never come to fruition. They must somehow find a way to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives … and their broken hearts.
And I weep for them. I cry for that family as the father of a young Black man, the grandfather of two Black boys and the father-in-law of a hardworking, Christian Black man whose lives I have long entrusted to God.
I weep because I know that in this “great” country, Black lives hold little value to those who have long-stolen away and continue to maintain power.
Such frequent examples of the misuse of guns, and the ease with which one can secure these weapons of destruction, apparently mean very little to leaders within the Republican Party. At least, that’s they exhibited as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, on his first official day of work in Richmond, watched gun-control bills he had backed be demolished by his former colleagues and friends in the state Senate.
It didn’t take long for the celebration of his victory to end. Just two days earlier he had been the toast of the commonwealth in what seemed to be a bipartisan jubilee. It didn’t take long for the narrowly-controlled GOP legislators to flex their muscles, rejecting a plethora of Democratic bills crafted to curb gun violence including one that would have required universal background checks for firearm purchases.
I hesitate to say it, but feel compelled to do so: I wonder if that the little football player from Southeast had been blond, blue-eyed and a little white sparkle in his white daddy’s eyes, if his death would have been so easily overlooked?
We know what weapons do to human beings, human bodies, human families and human communities.
But, as long as the bulk of the pain is suffered by Blacks, I guess it’s more important to maintain that Constitutional-right of bearing arms to which we all hold so dearly.
Another Black boy dead? Does it really matter?
I guess it depends on the seat you occupy