Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do Not Dispose

Early this morning I awoke to the usual drone of the morning’s local newscast, and one of the first stories that caught my attention, was another tragic tale of an African American child shot in the chest while sitting in his mother’s car. The suspect in this shooting is a young, teenage African-American male. Sad--- yes, but unfortunately, it’s a too-common occurrence. Thankfully, doctors think the 12 year-old victim will survive.

As disturbing as this story is, it took a turn for the worse when the news anchor closed the story by stating that the victim has a police record for drug sales. My first thought is--- What the hell does this have to do with him being shot while sitting in his mother’s car? In my opinion, this little zinger was code for--- No need to worry about this young child… he had it coming to him. The comment screamed---- HE’S DISPOSABLE!

In all of the stories I’ve read about this incident, none have intimated this child was engaged in a drug sale while sitting in the car, yet by ending this news story with a reference to this boy’s past infringements, undoubtedly colors how people will process this story.

This pains me; in fact, I’ve been twisted all day after hearing how this story was handled. Our children are not disposable. Yes, they’ve got to learn not to use guns to handle their beefs, but using thinly veiled coded language and dismissing them as unworthy only adds fuel to a fire already out of our control.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

That's My Boy!

This evening while eating dinner, Olivia mentioned there’s a kid in her 4th grade class who is about to turn 12 years old and while I tried to digest that little tidbit, Yannick pipes in with this… “Yeah… there were two kids in my kindergarten class who didn’t move up with the rest of my class to the 1st grade.” Why?” I asked. “I think it’s because they didn’t color too good.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stepping Out of Line

I am a creature of habit. Every morning after dropping the kids off at school, I head straight to the nearest Dunkin Donuts (D&D) to get a large hot tea, with milk and extra sugar. For the last two weeks I’ve noticed a father and his overweight young daughter in line with me at D&D and every morning, this father orders his daughter two strawberry frosted donuts and a bottle of juice.

Now, I applaud this man’s attempt to get something in his daughter’s belly before she heads off to school, but his breakfast of choice for this little girl is driving me bananas. This kid is about 4”7” and no less than 175bs. I know it’s none of my business,and I can stand to lose some weight myself, but damn, this kid’s no more than 7 yrs. old, morbidly obese and a prime candidate for diabetes and high blood pressure. She’s cute as a button, with her neatly braided hair and Catholic school uniform, and every morning she and her dad are chatting away about all sorts of stuff.

But, to be honest, I’m about to bite a hole in my lip in my effort not to step out of line and boldly suggest D&D’s egg white flat bread sandwich in lieu of enabling this little girl’s obvious sugar habit.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Big Ray

Today would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday. My grandfather, Raymond Boust, also know as Big Ray, died in 1974 when I was nine, but my memories of him are vivid. I guess this is because he was larger than life.

He was, in fact, a tall man, well over 6’3”, with steel grey eyes, a pencil thin mustache, and a deep guttural laugh. In his prime, he was known as the “Dark Gable” of South Philly. Yes, he was fine!

He and my grandmother slept in separate bedrooms in their home on St. Albans, and whenever I spent the night, I’d sleep with my grandmother, but my grandfather would put me to bed and stand in the doorway watching over me until I fell asleep. I’d always find him in the same place, watching over me, when I’d awaken. It didn’t matter how early I got up, he’d always be standing there looking at me. In my little girl’s mind, he’d been standing there all night making sure I was o.k. Once I was awake, he’d wordlessly motion for me to follow him downstairs, where he’d perch me in a chair at the dining room table. He’d then go into the kitchen and fix me the best hot cocoa (w/milk, not water) and a cup of black coffee for himself. To this day I cannot drink hot cocoa made with water and I've passed this high brow preference onto my children.

I remember one time when he actually woke me up and took me downstairs before the sun came up. He seemed excited, not his usual cool self and I was confused and disoriented. It was still dark out and I didn’t understand why he’d taken me out of bed. He placed me on the floor in the living room in front of the b & w TV. Big Ray’s voice boomed as he told me we were about to see the first man walk on the moon.

About 20 years after my grandfather died, I unknowingly rented an apartment in a house his family once owned in South Philly. After learning my familial connection to this particular piece of real estate, I became friendly with some of the older residents of the block who knew my grandfather well and remembered him fondly. Without a doubt, I know that my journey to that street, the 1900 block of Pemberton, did not happen by happenstance, but was Big Ray’s keeping a watchful eye on me once again.