Monday marked one year since the slaying of little King Carter, who died in the crossfire of a shooting in the parking lot of the Blue Lake Village apartments where he lived. He was only 6.
I remember thinking that, surely the death of this child — this baby — will shake the community to its core and such deaths will cease to happen. I was wrong. Although the community marched and held press conferences with the family of little Carter begging the shooters to come forth, to put an end to the killing of our children, it was to no avail.
Months soon turned into a new year, and still the blood continues to flow in the streets of some of our neighborhoods. Just a little over a week ago, I went to pick up my great-grandson Jaylen from Barbara Hawkins Elementary, only to learn the school was on lock-down. There had been a shooting a block from Carol City High, which is about two blocks from Carol City Middle school,, which is next door to Barbara Hawkins Elementary.
I commend the principals and staffs who are dedicated to the safety of our children. They don’t have to wait for an order to lock down the school whenever there is the sound of gunfire. They simply step up to the plate to keep our children safe.
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But that is only while the children are in the confines of school. The danger comes once the children are let out and are on their way home. In this particular incident, the three teens who were shot — two were 15, one 14 — were walking home from school when they were clipped with flying bullets. Thank God, they all escaped with minor injuries. According to a story in Monday’s Miami Herald, last year 18 teens and children under 18, weren’t so fortunate. All were killed by gunfire.
Such statistics cause me to want to keep my great-grandchildren and their playmates tucked safely under my arms, like a mother hen protecting her young. As I write this column, Jaylen, who slept over last night, is down the street playing with his little friend Jeremiah. They often play in the street in a game of street touch football. When it is dusk, and Jaylen hasn’t come home, I yell out his name, to let him know it’s time to come in. Sometimes, he is reluctant to come right away, arguing that the “street lights haven’t come on yet.” He usually is the first of his friends to have to come inside. It bothers him and he often tells me that none of his other friends have to go inside as early.
That is when I become my mom. “I don’t care what other children do; you have to mind me,” I tell him. He sulks for a while and soon, he is happily playing a game of football on his phone.
I feel so sad, when I realize that Jaylen has been robbed of some of the most wonderful and awesome opportunities I had when I was his age, like spreading old newspapers on the grass on the backyard and watching the stars come out at twilight on warm summer evenings. And to be excited when we see the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper shining brightly down to earth from some million miles away. Or going for a walk to the corner drugstore in the moonlight.
Nowadays, while many of the drive-by shootings happen in the daylight, dusk brings with it an additional shadow of fear. And so we gather our young and bring them into what we would like to believe, is the safety of our homes. But sometimes, walls and locked doors are not enough. I remember not long ago, a child was shot while in his grandma’s living room.
This causes me to wonder whatever happened to the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I can’t believe that nobody in the neighborhoods where the shootings are taking place, hasn’t seen something, or someone, that would help the police put a stop to the senseless shootings.
We, the people of the “village” must stand up and be counted. If we don’t, I’m afraid there won’t be any children left to raise.
The public is invited to hear a lecture by Batya Shmeuli, an Ethiopian Israeli, noon March 2 at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Blvd., and on March 3, at a lunch-and-learn session at Beth Torah Benny Roc Campus at 20350 NE 26th Ave. near North Miami Beach.
Shmueli, a staff member from the Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel, which is home, school and a safe haven to 430 at-risk youth from all over the world, will speak on empowering at-risk immigrant women in Israel through an innovative program called IsraElite, which specifically addresses the needs of young women from the margins of Israeli society and provides them with the tools necessary to attain leadership positions in Israel’s military service or in life.
She will also share her personal journey from the desert sands of Ethiopia, to her arrival in Israel as a refugee in 1991, to her successful education and career in Israel. She has a B.A. from Haifa University, where she studied teaching and the history of the Jewish people. She is married to Hed Shmueli, a sculptor and artist and they are the parents of three.
For more information go to the website, www.yeminorde.org.
Celebrating Protestant Reformation
In honor of the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Roman Catholic Church have joined together in a spirit of unity and collegiality for a year of service, learning and celebration.
To kick off the year in Miami-Dade County, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at noon, Sunday for the creation of a prayer labyrinth on the grounds of MorningStar Renewal Center, 7275 SW 124th St. in Pinecrest.
Called “Digging Deeper than Doctrine” the project seeks to bring together people of different faith traditions to create a common space for reflection.
According to information from the MorningStar Renewal Center, a prayer labyrinth is a circuitous walkway that has been used since ancient times for meditation and prayer. When completed, it will be open to the public and can be used by all faiths and traditions.
Black History Month salute
Plymouth Congregational Church at 3400 Devon Rd. in Coconut Grove will present its sixth annual Salute to Black History Month — a Jazz Brunch — following the 10 a.m. worship services on Sunday.
The honored guests will include Jesse Jones Jr.; Brenda Alford; the family of Marsha Jackman; and Melton S. Mustafa Sr.
Contributions to The United Negro College Fund are welcome and will be greatly appreciated.
Study of Spirituality at FIU
The Dianne Collins and Alan K. Collins Distinguished Speaker Series, Program in the Study of Spirituality, will present a lecture by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., on the subject, “Discovering Your True Nature — A Quantum Magical Mystery Tour of You” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus in the Wolfe Theater.
In his lecture, Wolf will help the audience to realize that “an infinite, unchanging reality exists hidden behind the illusion of ceaseless change, lies at the core of every being and is the substratum of the personality ... that life has one main purpose: to experience this one reality — to discover God while one is living on earth.”
The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 305-348-7266.
Church chicken BBQ
The men of Silver Palm United Methodist Church will have their 43rd annual Chicken BBQ on March 4 at the church, 15855 SW 248th St.
The chicken is slow-cooked over a moderate fire for five hours and people come from miles around just for a taste.
Takeout begins at 2:30 p.m. and dining in starts at 4:30 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall. The cost for a half chicken, veggies and dessert is $10 per person for adults and $6 per child for children under 12.
For more information, call Bob Jensen at 305-248-0976.
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