Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hope and Aggravation Part 1.

I have more respect for Pastor John Raphael more than anyone in this city. The reason is that he’s a man that is making the lives and future of the young men in his community a priority when he really doesn’t have to. I respect that to the highest because how many of us have made the decision that a section of our community is just going to act wild and destroy themselves? The truth hurts sometimes and the reality is that we have regressed to the point where our outrage towards an act of violence is dependent on the value of the victim or the status of the perpetrator. Just like today when the NAACP met with Chief Riley about the killing of Adolph Grimes by police officers. I have no tolerance for police brutality and if these officers did something wrong then they should be punished. His family deserves that justice. However, for the last twenty years they have been over 100 Adolph Grimes that were probably killed by a person who looked just like him and we hardly say a thing. What about those families? What happens when you slowly start to accept a certain level of violence is that eventually the mentality will fester just like the dream deferred Langston Hughes was talking about and it will evolve into thinking that murder is a way to eliminate any problem. I think this week we saw the end result of that in the murder of two year old JaShawn Powell. You can only keep that accepted destruction confined to a certain criteria so long. I wouldn’t be surprised if crimes like the one Danny Platt committed keep happening in some form.

It could be the foolish dreamer in me or my deep love for my dark skin; but I have always held out hope that this was all a passing phase and that somehow we would get by it without a certain amount of pain. Even after the numbers of kids I knew as a teenager or a child were being killed or locked up I still had my hope intact. After seeing what happened to that baby and the reason why, my level of hope is less than it’s ever been. It might be a little less but I still have some. Just like Pastor Raphael, I know the rest of us need to do something. I have been trying to figure out exactly what I can do to bring about a positive impact. Because I can never ignore the reality around me when I think about things like this, I now have to reconcile some sad truths about what’s happening in certain areas of this community. That is when my hope and desire to make things better clashes with my aggravation. I will tell you about that part tomorrow.


Not So Old Soldier said...

Brother Cliff, you are not alone. My aggrivation and hope have been clashing for a long time. Its hard to figure out what your best course of action is when a problem is this big. But, we can do it. I am still very optimistic for my people and our community.

Anonymous said...

God Cliff, you hit the nail on the head. That's EXACTLY why I've been attending that man's church. I got really sidetracked by the bill jefferson endorsement, stopped going, but then went to talk to him when he was fasting on the neutral ground last week and although his answer wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, it restored my faith in him and his mission.

Pastor Raphael is doing what we all need to do - go and stare the dragon in the face and not turn away. He walks right up to our brothers out there hustling and wrecking shop, embraces them, gets to know them, reasons with them. He makes them a part of his life. That's what we're NOT doing. I'm saying 'we' as Black people because, even though this is everyone's responsibility, it's our responsibility the most. we've got to stop waiting for programs and governments and churches and non profits to address this problem, begin to take individual responsibility, and start including these very troubled members of our community into our personal lives. If we can't embrace and adopt some one-on-one humanizing relationships with the ones falling through the crack, this will continue on ad naseum. And Pastor Raphael gets this. He's the only minister I know of in New Orleans that's walking the talk about 'community'

Anonymous said...

Raphael spoke before me at that rally at City Hall two years ago. Wow, what a speech. I have had much respect for him ever since. Like Marshall Truehill he inspires by example.