Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

If Someone Doesn’t Get Shot Then It’s Not Really a Family Gathering

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Yesterday afternoon, around 2pm, a young friend ominously wrote on his Facebook wall:

I think somebody gonna get shot at the Black.!!!

The Black refers to the Black Family Reunion (BFR).  Maybe it wasn’t so prescient as seeing into a crystal ball and more like playing the odds at a blackjack table. For years there have been “incidences” at the BFR in the past that have made black Cincinnatians shake their heads.  There was black kids wilding out one year; someone was shot last year.  We remind ourselves that other non-black events have had violence –like the Who Concert and that drunk guy plowing his car into the crowd at Oktoberfest.  There’s probably been more, we just can’t think of any off the bat, but white folks ain’t no better look at how the police shoot us.

One year I remember that Mayor Mallory reminded people that the BFR is a family event, encouraging parents to attend with their children.  Meanwhile, I haven’t been to a BFR in hmmmmm, maybe 10 years, maybe longer.  I don’t have any friends who attend, either.  I wonder if that’s the problem.  I stopped attending because I found the BFR boring, it wasn’t living up to the hype of its publicity, there were way too many t-shirt booths although the vocal entertainment was often promising.  Now I  won’t go because too many unsupervised kids and teens is just not a good mix.

Maybe Mallory should remind people again that the BFR needs the parent component to make it work.

So, early Saturday afternoon my young friend predicted someone was going to get shot at the BFR; by late evening a 16-year-old was shot by police, dying from his wounds on Sunday morning.

At 6:45 police learned that someone was throwing fireams into the secure area of the children’s playground at Sawyer Point; the weapons were retrieved by 16-20 year olds.  Somehow, the action moves barely a quarter mile up to Fountain Square where an officer follows a suspect.  The teen pulls a gun on an officer, the teen gets shot.  End of story.

Except I’m sure it isn’t.  I can’t help thinking about how much worse it could have been –there still are some families who attend the BFR, especially with small children in tow, what if one of them were hurt.  What if the teens were planning a shoot out with other teens/gangs there.  Although I am not as aggrieved as perhaps I should be that a young life was taken, I do wonder what got him to this point?  Where are his parents in all of this?  Are they ashamed that their son was killed in this way?  Or maybe they are angry that the police has taken his life at all?

I remember when the BFR was brought to Cincinnati over 20 years ago.  I remember Dorothy Height and Pamela Warner (mother of actor Malcolm Jamal Warner) on the local news,  discussing the creation of the BFR and why it was needed to combat the negative images of African Americans and the black family.  But what has started with good intentions has become a jollification of free P&G samples and unruly teens.

Yeah, just like your own family reunions.

Deep inside I quell a nagging fear that the image of the black family we want to project of ourselves was never real or attainable anyway which is why the reality has come crashing into our dream for the last few years, one can only keep up the pretense for just so long.  I want to believe that the demographical aspect of the black family is not held in the numbers of single parent homes, the high rate of incarcerated black fathers, or the number of black males who can’t make it out of high school.  I want to believe that diminishing numbers doesn’t  quantify the strength of a people who made it through the adversity of slavery and Jim Crow.

I want to believe in a black family that is intact but not crazy.  Or if crazy at least not homicidal with gun-toting children who want to shoot out our future as well as their own.

But if the BFR is reflective of the Black Family in Cincinnati, then how dysfunctional does that make us?

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Written by rentec

21 August, 2011 at 9:49 pm

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