While in New York recently, I attended an art show at the school where my daughter-in-law works. I was impressed with all the art — done by children ages 4 to 14. However, one piece in particular, caught my eye: a shield, painted in red, white and blue. The words printed across the shield said: “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
That’s a phrase we hear a lot these days, with all the killing of our youth. But as I stood there, looking down on the piece of art, I thought: Black lives do matter, but to whom?
In recent months, so much killing has gone on in the black community that I don’t have to wonder if black lives matter to those who are doing the shooting. I don’t think so. To them, black lives, or any other lives, do not matter.
When Roderick Sweeting was walking from Norland High School to his home at Northwest 176 Terrace in Miami Gardens, the shooter took out one of our brightest. A young relative of the victim told me the shooter had already shot him at least three times, before he ran to Sweeting and emptied his gun in his already dying body. Both the victim and the shooter were black.
As I read the account of the shooting and learned more about the victim — a quiet, A-student — I was told, I wondered about the heart of the shooter. I wanted to know what caused him to grow up with such a cold heart that he could shoot a fellow teenager down in cold blood. Then go home as if nothing had happened. To this kid, not only didn’t black life matter; life, period doesn’t matter.
The Sweeting relative told me he wasn’t really the target; it was his brother, who had gotten into an argument with the shooter, who was seeking revenge. Roderick Sweeting never knew what hit him. He had earphones in his ear, listening to music. Later I learned the shooter was only 15.
I don’t know what has happened to us. As a people, we older blacks know what it was like to fight for simple freedoms. To us, black lives have always mattered.
We are a people who have survived slavery, and lynchings and the raping of our mothers. We have died on the right-to-vote battlefield and have had fire hoses and vicious dogs turned violently on us to stop the progress of freedom, only today to see our youth being cut down by our youth. It’s enough to make you shed bitter tears, as my mom used to say.
I don’t know the answer. I wish is did. And I know that as I write this column and feeling the pain brought on by the senseless murders (don’t know why I call them “senseless” murders. I can’t find sense in any murder), the ones who need to read this and think about what is happening to our young blacks, will probably never see this column. And even if they see it, their hearts are so hardened that what I’m saying her won’t even matter to them.
As I write this, I am reminded of how I prayed daily for and with my sons, that they would be safe and grow into manhood. Back then, we black parents (mostly we moms) focused our teachings on telling our sons how to act if they were stopped by a police officer. “Don’t ask questions,” we told them. “And if they call you the ‘n’ word, don’t worry; you know who you are. The main thing is for you to stay alive.”
I learned recently that black parents are still giving out that same advice. Sometime it works and sometime it doesn’t.
Today, with only one son left, I still have a burden of prayer for him. In addition to praying for him, there are my little great-grandsons. I don’t want their rite of passage into manhood to be a jail sentence. And I don’t want their beautiful lives cut short by a bullet or bullets from a gang member’s gun.
We are living in a sad time. But as a mom and great-grandmom, I can’t give up. I must keep on praying and keep the hope within me alive and pass it on.
It’s the only way.
SUMMER FREE FOOD PROGRAM
The kick-off for Florida’s Summer Free Food Program and food tasting will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 14 at the Annie Coleman Housing Complex Park, 1907 NW 60th St.
The event is hosted and presented by the Rev. Benjamin H. Parrott of Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church at 8100 NW 17th Ave. The kick-off event will is geared to bringing community awareness to the free meals available to children and teens throughout the summer months.
To ensure children from infancy to 18 will get at least one nutritious meal during the summer, Christian Fellowship has partnered with the Florida Summer Food Program, which will begin the day after final day of school. It will continue until the end of the summer school recess.
The church will prepare, deliver and serve a breakfast/lunch, a lunch/snack, or a lunch/dinner to children every day during the summer. For churches that sign up for the program, the food will also be delivered to their vacation Bible school sessions. The children will be required to eat the meal/meals at the site where the meals are served.
The free meals program will be June 16-Aug. 19 at Christian Fellowship and at participating locations throughout Miami-Dade County.
If your church or organization would like to be a participating feeding site, or if you need more information on how to become involved in the free meals program call Anna Jackson at 305-308-0542 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW OUTREACH MINISTRY
The Cutler Bay community is invited to attend a new outreach ministry, Ambassadors’ Empowerment Center, led by the Revs. Malcolm and Teresita Harris at 20740 SW Old Cutler Rd. (behind Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church).
An interdenominational full gospel ministry, Pastor Teresita Harris said the vision is to “raise up mature kingdom citizens to fulfill their God ordained purpose on this earth.”
Recently relocated from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the South Miami-Dade area, the couple have more than 40 years of pastoral and teaching ministry experience as well as academic teaching at both the high school and college levels.
SYNAGOGUE HOLOCAUST DISCUSSION
The community is invited to hear Peter Tarjan, Ph.D., who will be the guest speaker for Yom Hashoah at Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom. Tarjan, a Holocaust survivor, will speak at 9:15 p.m. Friday, May 6, after the worship services.
The author of the book Children Who Survived the Final Solution includes his own experiences as a child of the Holocaust in Hungary. He recently shared some of his experiences in a testimony he gave to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
The temple is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami. Light refreshments will follow Tarjan’s lecture. It’s free and open the community.
DISCUSSION ABOUT TERRORISM, ANTI-SEMITISM
Brian D. Siegal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties office, will be the guest speaker at 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Ahavat Olam Synagogue, 10775 SW 112th St.
Siegal will speak on the topic, “A Defining Moment in History: Confronting the Challenges of Jihadist Terrorism, Anti-Semitism, and the Attacks on Israel, while Seizing Opportunities to Build Friends and Allies for the Jewish People.”
The free service is open to the community. For more information, call 305-412-4240 or email, members@ahavatola,.org.
OVERCOMING YOUR PAST
The May Lesson Series Theme of “Boldly Living a Life of Greatness” at the Universal Truth Center for Better Living will continue on Sunday with the sermon lesson: “Greatness, Overcome Your Past,” presented by the Rev. Charles Taylor, senior minister at the center.
Also, the center will host the 12th annual colloquium of the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary May 12-14. the community is invited to “explore the biblical perspective of Christianity, racism, and white privilege.” If you go, you are requested to register in the church’s community room after the service.
The church is at 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens.
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