An Open Letter to the Coalition
While recently driving to work, enjoying the Tom Joyner Morning Show’s conversations and groovin’ to my era’s music on Hot 105.1, I was struck by this news story: “A shooting outside a Miami Gardens home has left two people dead near Northwest 24th Court and 169th Street.” Not too far from my office, I thought, as I headed to work to create effective community solutions that empower and protect youth and families in the City of Miami Gardens; our NDYFC mission. But what really struck me, besides the continuous senseless violence involving young people in our communities, was the report that indicated a car was found riddled with bullets and it was hauled away with the victim (a teen body) still inside. I was in shock!
I cringe when I think of a young person dying from gun violence, but am especially devastated when I hear a young victim is hauled away with bullets inside a car. It was almost like the child was a part of the trash. I have a son. I could never stand for that to happen to his body. He’s my baby and I wouldn’t want him hauled off…no matter what.
Sunday, June 26th Jesse Williams, an actor and activist, made an acclaimed acceptance speech for his Humanitarian work throughout the nation at the BET Awards. The BET Awards were established in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television network to celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports, and other fields of entertainment over the past year. The awards are presented annually, and are broadcast live on BET. His speech was full of pride and wisdom about our collective minority struggles from the past to the future. It hits home at this point when we can haul a teen body in a bullet ridden car. Mr. Williams said:
“..burying Black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations, and stealing them; gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Violence seems so pervasive throughout the country, one would think it’s a television reality show. But it’s not and it’s up us, as adults, to protect our youth. Not just parents or police or teachers. Not just those who we are related to in our personal families, but all of us — collectively together — one community! If we really care about what is happening in our community to our children it’s time to stand up. Like Mr. Williams said during his speech, “the system can’t survive if we stand.”
So Let’s Stand up! Take a part in and control of what happens in our community. Stand up for and with our children. Don’t join the bandwagon of despair about them. They need their community to feel good about them. Like all parents, we must do for them even when they have gone astray. If we show our children some kindness…kind words, understanding — that we too were once young and made mistakes, coupled with love, perhaps they won’t be so afraid to talk with us about the important stuff.
Lessons in Jazz (LIJ)was funded by The Children’s Trust to develop innovative solutions to help deter youth violence. As a part of LIJ we met with a select group of youth and adults throughout May and June; taking them through a series of Music Conflict Transformation workshops. One goal the group unanimously agreed upon was that the missing link to youth violence was a sense of community. The kind of community in which people feel safe and connected — invested in. To that end, Thursday, July 14, in collaboration with the Miami Gardens Police Department, NDYFC will partake in Coffee with a Cop on the Block. We’re adopting one city block in the city of Miami Gardens to inundate residents with love and support.
Further, each of us can help. Take some time out of your summer schedule to plan a trip with a group of kids from our neighborhoods. Take them to a neighborhood pool or to the beach or take them to view a movie. Support and patronize the young kids making it the honest way at their lemonade stand at 191 St NW 33 Ave., Miami Gardens. Take some groceries to the single mom living near you who struggles with multiple kids or as Coalition agencies adopt a single mom and provide babysitting services, just for one day, so she can have a moment to think about tomorrow.
We can change this! We must all become a part of our own rescue. Let’s not become complacent. Let’s not become so desensitized to gun violence that we aren’t appalled by a child hauled off in a car ridden with bullets.
NDYFC and our Coalition Partners have pledged to work harder to identify youth in trouble, help families deal with life’s challenges, monitor their results and communicate steps to ensure continuous support where they live. We ask all to become involved in the Coalition’s work!
NDYFC meets monthly to address community need and develop solutions. Coalition Meetings start again on Thursday, September 8, 2016 @ 1 pm and will be hosted by the Fountain of New Life Church, located at 4601 NW 169th Street, Miami Gardens 33055. Join us. Call (786) 520-4136 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember….‘Just Because We‘re Magic, Does Not Mean We‘re Not Real‘…Jesse Williams
Enjoy your summer!