Wednesday, February 10, 2016



"If this man didn't get out of jail after his last stent, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to kill your brother."

I have the beige knit sweater my brother received for Christmas; his last Christmas. When my mom found it in the laundry room weeks after his death, she ran up the stairs crying. She gave it to me and told me to keep it as a memento. I still have it. I usually wear it on the anniversary of his death which was yesterday February 9th, 21 years ago. The knitting on that sweater has come apart and there are huge gaps in it. I tell myself that's the style I'm going for to justify wearing that tattered garment.
Last Wednesday, me, my brother's 21 year old son and his mother drove to Montgomery AL for the parole hearing of the convicted killer just as we did 5 years agoPartly due to my nephew's declaration to the parole board that he only wants to hear his dad say he's proud of him and the sheer fact that he should, the convict's  sentence was extended by 5 more years.
I always have mixed feelings about these parole hearings. No matter what happens, my brother will still be dead.  The quote above is what the victim's advocate said to me the first time this guy was up for parole. Her comment gave me pause; I had never thought of it that way. That man should not have had a chance to kill somebody else's baby and "that's the truth, Ruth." My nephew, my brother's son was only 3 months old when his father was killed.

Spike Lee's new musical satire, Chiraq, brought up more uncomfortable feelings, mainly since I knew the parole hearing was coming up. As the title suggests, the movie compares the violence in Chicago's black community with a war zone; i.e. Iraq. According to Spike Lee, there have been more murders in Chicago in the past ten years than American casualties in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The violence in my hometown, Birmingham AL seems to be on its way to rival those numbers. There is a different murder report on my Facebook feed posted by my local news every morning when I sign in.

The movie also exposes the absurdity of police officers killing just as many black men as the men in gangs kill each other. We often hear, "what about black on black crime," as a counterargument to police brutality but as Lystralla said in Chiraq, we still deserve respect. Angela Bassett's character asserts, "if gun laws didn't change after Sandy Hook, black lives are way out of range."

There is absolutely no value of human life on any level anymore by anyone. That is the current state of our culture. How did that come to be? It is baffling to me. Chiraq pointed out that there used to be a gang code to never hurt children or the elderly but now its every man for himself.

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