Monday, August 04, 2008

A murder in St. Louis city…

Carl Sharp, a former high school basketball star and a coach and mentor to area youth, lost his life when he was shot allegedly over a dispute over burger.

The alleged murderer is 16 years old.

Carl Sharp was a mentor…and so am I.

The shooting took place just a couple of blocks away from where my mentee lives…this, like too many other shootings and killings.

I don’t know, but the death of a mentor by a youth over such a stupid thing saddens the hell out of me.

Sigh.

One of my favorite radio stations, 104.9 FM, was hosting a discussion about this today and I listened as people called in to talk about how angry chil’ren are today…how violent they have become…how older generations have failed and how apathy towards community involvement is the culprit.

But as someone who volunteers with young people I just can’t bring myself to blame them for their anger…just for the way they express it. I am a witness to the poverty, violence and abuse that too many youth are reared in…if they were not angry then they'd have to be insane.

I do not blame them for mirroring the violence they see adults display…television, music and images carry some of the blame but most of the young people I know learned how to lead with their fist and talk later at home by a parent or guardian.

This isn’t as simple as the problem of hair trigger tempers resulting in violent expressions of anger. It isn’t about blame and it will not be solved through token efforts like some fucking billboard declaring that Strong Marriages Build Strong Families or “leading black celebrities” fussing in clipped tones whilst lounging in air-conditioned auditoriums.

This is about us. Our communities, our towns and our expectations. This is about a lot of people doing what is currently being done by a few.

And I’m not talking race, class or gender…a bitch grew up in a rather fucked up and damaged middle class suburb, so I know that money ain’t the cure and black folk haven’t cornered the market on drama.

What I am talking about is a majority, instead of a minority, of a community really giving a damn.

I don’t know if that’s the answer, but it is the only thing I see consistently missing.

I just don’t know.

May we all be moved to act…to mentor or teach or coach…may that be both a tribute and a legacy.

You might say I’m a dreamer

But please Gawd don’t let me be the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will live as one…

Carl Sharp was 26 years old.

15 comments:

Kieya said...

This is insane. I'm an arts mentor to teenage girls and I agree, I can't be mad at them. I may get a lil ticked off from time to time but I can't be full on angry. I've learned from working with that there is ALWAYS a reason behind their actions. They're not just doing it cuz they can.

Its easy for folks to sit and curse at the younger generation for their actions but these kids didn't come out the womb toting glocks. They clearly learned this behavior from elsewhere. And that person learned it from someone else and so on.

I long for the days that I knew I couldn't do nothing wrong cuz Ms. Peters down the street had no problem laying hands on me then goin home & tellin my grandmother & getting it twofold.

A.evilredhead said...

How awful. You aren't the only one, Shark-fu, I dream that dream also.

May 10 people step up to mentor in Carl's place. In reality, may 1 person be so moved.

Anonymous said...

"And I’m not talking race, class or gender…a bitch grew up in a rather fucked up and damaged middle class suburb, so I know that money ain’t the cure and black folk haven’t cornered the market on drama."

Sing it again now... please.

L. Jackson said...

Yes, the community raised us 'oldies' but ppl are scared now of getting involved because of the danger to self/families. That fear along with the idea that kids are tossed aside w/many not caring and the parents that are teaching fist is mightier than the mouth...so u looking at no easy solution???

betmo said...

wow. i am so sorry for the kids and the people of his community. i hear what you are singing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is incredibly sad and unfortunately becoming commonplace among communities. I'm from a working class/lower middle class area which has gone down hill quickly over the past few years.

Where is it coming from?

Taking out factors of race, socio-economic status, or even gender, and I STILL see this incredible anger in youth today, including myself when I was growing up. It's beyond anger, it's become this insatiable rage. How can we refocus this anger into something positive? How can we quell this rage? Wish I had an answer.

lilalia said...

My condolences to Carl and his family. In a recent discussion with a group of high school girls, we were talking about who their heroes were. None of them mentioned anyone they had ever met. Not one of them had the concept of mentoring or roll models. That left me with a sense that there was a lot of explosives there ready to blow.

You are right in saying that the responsibility can not rest on one mentor's shoulders, but has to be carried by all in the community.

WNG said...

I'm with you Shark-Fu, hopefully more people will step up and take his place. Talking is good, but sometimes it seems that talking is all there is...

IseultTheIdle said...

So many factors. There's a two-pronged problem right up at the top: an unrealistic sense of what constitutes material success, and with that the unwarranted idea that said unrealistic material success is in any way necessary; and a more-realistic sense that said goal is out of reach. Permanently and forever.

So there's a sense of frustration right there, that comes from nowhere and everywhere at once, starting at birth and going on from there.

Guns are too readily available and too accepted. I don't mean hunting rifles, either. I sometimes truly believe the proliferation of hand guns and assault rifles constitute Crack Cocaine v. 2.0: let 'em kill themselves and each other.

Families. Families. Families. When did we stop caring about raising kids right? No, not everyone, but so many. Is it that materialism again, raising its ugly head and sneering that our kids need brand name jackets more than they need our time? - Time we spent earning money for that jacket, believing we were providing what was important rather than neglecting it?

I don't know. Mentoring is a start; it just should never be the end. This breaks my heart.

Rick said...

No JESUS no PEACE, know JESUS and know PEACE. We have decided that we can get along without Jesus in our lives. No time for God or his son. Maybe our parents didn't do it the right way but they atleast made sure that we grew up in church. That we were exposed to God. Black kids are angry because parents have them in a bad situation. Parents didn't stay in school and get a good education so they could get a good job. Kids are angry because females laid down with the cute guy who lays down with all the fine honeys and gets them pregnant, and runs away.
Bad decisions is what they are mad about they just can't quite put their finger on it. The decision not to finish schoool, the decision to have sex before marriage, the decision not to use birth control until you were more financially stable in the marriage.
Decisions decisions decisions. Then we decide that church was smothering and boring, so I 'm not going and neither are my kids. Don't pray and love the Lord. Church is to long and I don't have any money to put in that plate.
Not parents but friends, to the kids. Listen to the same music watch the same videos dress in the same clothes.
Then they are supposed to do what you say? Smoke crack and weed in front of them get drunk on the weekends, don't teach them respect and that they should do well in school, and keep them from knowing their creator and they are supposed to turn out right?
Then we get out in the street after we have taught them nothing because we are too busy getting our groove on or getting our hair did, and scream and holler because the police just killed my boy, they are racist and they killed him because they could. But why is your son out at 3 in the morning if he's such a good kid and you are such a good parent? Punk parents! Scared of being arrested scared of child protective services and scared of your own child. They control you instead of you controlling them. You didn't bust that butt because you didn't like it when you were growing up.
Kids don't have any fear because you didn't instill any kind of fear of consequences for their actions in them.
You failed to enstill in them respect for you as parents and other authority figures.
We allow the children to run the show and you are viewed as cool for that by the kids in the area and you like it. Then when things start to go wrong and you finally start trying to act like a parent then you encounter resistance from your kids because you are the same as them and they don't respect anything that you have to say. They can't see any difference in you as the parent. You are just a bigger version of themselves, so how can you correct them?
Once they are out of control and you can't handle them anymore and you can't use their language to calm them down then you will put them out because now you want respect!
The kid is going to rebell because he does not understand the change in you all of the sudden.
You have a flashback of how you were raised and how it's supposed to be and then you call your parents acking for advice, after you told them to mind their own business because these are your children not theirs!
But by then it's sad to say it's too late in most cases because you are not willing to do what it takes to bring them back, after all you have your pride. So you let the police and society deal with them because you have done all that you can do.
And yet you don't understand why the kids are angry, for the life of you.
Later in life you will understand as you see yourself in younger generations doing the same things you did, making the same mistakes you made. And then if you are worth the salt in your body you will try to befriend that young person and lend them some of the wisdom you gained through a lifetime of mistakes, so that they won't follow in your footsteps.
Try to impart some of this on to your readers, and change your name to something befitting your status as a fine black princess instead of your current moniker. God bless you sister.

Shark-fu said...

Ummm...Rick?

By "you" you must not mean this bitch...cause I don't fit your disturbing definition of modern black women.

Nor do I have any patience for those who attempt to blame women for the ills of society in the name of God.

I know God very well and I doubt that she's please with that kind of nonsense.

Now hush and get thee gone!

Mercy, if I had a dollar for half the trifling motherfuckers trying to school a bitch I'd be able to open up a church...

Crys T said...

Thanks for this post, Shark-fu: it's put into words a lot of things I've been thinking about where I live (South Wales...& UK in general) for a long time.

Currently, there's a moral panic going on about knife crime in the UK (as if it's something that never happened till now) and there's a LOT of blaming & demonising of young people. And I can't help but feel like you do: how there are any young people who aren't angry is what I wonder.

And here as well, the whole idea of "community" seems to be dying, as everything get privatised and everyone disappears into their own isolated existences.

brian said...

Shark Fu,I share your distress. The thing that upsets me more is the availability of cheap handguns and ammunition that makes these acts so common.
We as a society seem willing to accept this "collateral" damage as a price for our 2nd amendment.
The recent Supreme Court decision may have codified this situation.
Why can't we register both guns AND ammunition and severely punish EVERYONE in the chain of a homicide?

betmo said...

the problem isn't necessarily the guns. yes, i agree that there should be better regulation- but guns don't fire themselves. knives don't pick themselves up and stab people. buddhism stresses the fact that every single being on this planet is interconnected. we really don't have the luxury of isolating ourselves- although we are certainly trying. why parents don't parent is a mystery to me- because mine did. my friends' parents did. and i am not that old. i have no idea when it became fashionable not to parent. but the children and young people are here- now- without heroes and without parents. and we share space with them- and they do us. so- what are we going to do about it? are we going to be the example? are we going to be a hero to someone? are we going to step and do the right thing despite the risks and the dangers? carl did. these are people. these are people in need and in distress- how much longer can we hide behind fear? we can't hide behind walls and locks forever because if someone wants to get in badly enough- they will. this world as a whole is in trouble- ecosystems are failing left and right- and the human race, as arrogant as it is, cannot survive without them. we are all interconnected- men, women, people of color and white folks, judeo-christians and the rest of us- all interconnected as living beings. if one falls, we all fall. and that is what we are seeing now. there are no easy answers. the one constant- involvement and engagement with the communities and world we live in. we can no longer play lord and lady of the manner because the 'help' is in revolt. it's 'heads out of asses' time. we don't have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines anymore.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Shark-Fu!

Ummmm...I mean PRINCESS Shark-Fu!!
{rolling my eyes at Rick}

This tragedy has left me speechless?

{shaking my head}

Insanity can not even BEGIN to describe it...

One thing is for certain...we have NOT paid attention to emotional illness among our young people...many live in war zones and suffer from PTSD... seriously.

This news is terribly shocking and sad...

Thank you for blowing the trumpet!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa