The rash of violence that has seemed to engulf my beloved city has taken me like many other people throughout my city aback. However, the recent death of young Aiden McClendon struck a particular cord with me. Not only because of his youth (22 months old), but the seemly randomness by which his young life was taken. At 22 months he had yet to discover any of the gifts or let alone curses life would even offer him and now we collectively mourn his tragic death.
Over the last 24hrs as I have trolled my social media timeline I have seen the ubiquitous call for prayers and the political response by both the Mayor and the Sheriff. Personally, I have found little solace in either as none of the aforementioned has brought about a true reconciliation with what I see and hear. Mentally and spiritually I am conflicted as I try and reject the idea that the very communities that raised me and so many of my peers have evolved into violent hinterlands where not even the youngest of lives is spared. Joy and pain are celebrated equally at the same story line depending on the neighborhood you from.
As I gather my thoughts I find myself asking what is the tipping point for our community? What is the line that everyone understands we cannot cross despite any larger beefs? Under what circumstances do we say jail is the consequence for this particular action? Or have we just evolved to a space and place where no one or any place is safe? Even on the Wire and the Godfather they had rules.
I also find myself asking what is the solution to such rampant and senseless violence that has seemingly become commonplace for not only my community, but also many others like it across the country. I have evolved from a place where I simply believe that economic piety is the cure all for what ails many within these troubled neighborhoods and simply blaming the structural racism that exist is far to easy. Fact of the matter is none of the referenced is valid reasons as to why young Aiden is dead. He was too young to understand the value of a dollar and far to innocent to be sucked into the vortex of racism.
Yet as the days go by and the Internet trolls on there will be no shutting down of roads, or calls for justice about his death. There will be no tears shed beyond his families or any marches with participants shouting “No Justice, No Peace.” His death won’t represent a watershed moment worthy of a hash tag. It will be just another day, with just another name that died on the mean city streets of our beloved city.
And for that I am truly ashamed.
This is my truth and I AM sticking to it.
Dr. Irvin PeDro Cohen