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How did we get here?

I am sure you have all heard about the four young people that were victims of unspeakable violence in Newark, NJ last week.  Unspeakable because these babies were gunned down execution style.  Three were killed and one lived to tell the story. I know we see things like this far too often, but at what point do we say enough is enough?

When I think of this incident it makes me sick.  At that age, I used to go to the playground to watch summer league basketball games.  Many nights found me and my friends sitting on the bleachers, or walking down dark streets long after the games had ended. When I think of the number of times I heard my mother give me the people out here are crazy speech….  Back then our biggest worry was the stick up kids or maybe getting jumped by somebody else’s crew.  Kids weren’t carrying guns and machetes.  Every now and then you heard the story of the girl that got her face sliced with a blade, or the guy that got jumped and got his chain/sneakers/ bomber jacket/bike stolen.  How did we get here? 

Two of the alleged perpetrators are fifteen years old?  At fifteen, what makes a person want to take another life? Dashon Harvey, Terrance Aerial, Natasha Aerial, and Iofemi Hightower were four innocent victims of the apparent lapse in morality that the perpetrators displayed.  They were approached, violated, victimized and murdered.  While one of them did survive, imagine the horror of witnessing the murder of your brother and two friends?  When they can’t take your life, they certainly try to take your spirit.  How did we get here?  How did we get to a place where young people can have no value for human life? 

In a time where the crime rate is rising, gang violence is mounting, and the drug game is far too prevalent, there were four trying to do the right thing.  It deserves to be mentioned that in spite of (or maybe because of) all the negativity they had to witness while growing up in Newark, they chose to want more.  They made conscious decisions to pursue education.  A relative was quoted as saying one of the victims was “beautiful inside and out”, and that she tried to elevate herself “beyond what we all see around us”.  Even in your attempt to elevate, someone will try to take you down!  How did we get here?   

A father of one of the victims was quoted as saying: “We need to raise our children”.  Sadly the parents of these four victims did raise their children. A young minister, a potential social worker, a person that listed “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost” as heroes on her MySpace page; yes I would say these babies were “raised”.   How did we get to a place where you can raise your children, but need to be more worried about the ones around the corner that are not being raised?  As a parent what do you do?

For those that know the area, did you ever think we would experience this type of violence in our lifetime?  Whether you matriculated through Vailsburg High, Arts High, Central, Immaculate Conception, Essex Catholic, Weequahic, Shabazz, or West Side did you ever think our neighborhoods would progress from stealing cars to stealing lives?   I know people that got their sneakers stolen at Twin City skating rink.  I know people that got jumped for their bikes in East Orange and over by Weequahic Park.  Now sadly some of us know people that got shot and killed while they tried to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.  How did we get here? 

I do not know the answer to the question, but I do believe somewhere our society took a wrong turn.  Was it the babies having babies?  Did crack get us here?  Did it start when they removed prayer from the schools?  Do we blame big government or overcrowded classrooms?   As a child I believed by 2007 we’d be living like the Jetson’s, but we are all on our way to living in a police state.  How did we get here?  Can someone PLEASE let me know!



August 16, 2007 - Posted by | Life, News, Opinion, Society


  1. I can tell you how we got here…we got when we let all the illegals take over our hood! Booker needs to do something about THAT! They are takin over the city…thats why the crime rate is so high. These illegals run the gangs, they sell the drugs…they are tearing our city down.

    Comment by Hakeem | August 16, 2007

  2. It’s a shame …..when I was a child you never heard or even talked about an elder burying their child….it was always when I die…….you make sure you do this and you make sure you do that. Now the talk on the corner is… “Man they got my boy and his cousin last night”.Like it’s the norm.You have to now worry and pray that your child makes it home every day.AND THAT’S SAD!!!!!!!!!
    We’re not going to be happy until we walk out our doors and go downtown,to the stores and see armed guards walking around with semi- atuomatics….Like what we see in Iraq. That’s what it’s going to come to, if we don’t TAKE control!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Lauren H | August 16, 2007

  3. What bothers me the most is the young lady who was in her junior year at Delaware State. She was only home for the weekend. When I was in undergrad one of my former advisors was a young brother name Chris Love, we met when he was working on his master’s and then he was off to a PHD program to officially become Dr. Love, as he would like to joke with the ladies. Well, Chris went home one weekend and was at a community party in his hood, when he was shot dead. I’ll never forget that! When I travel home to Jersey now all excited to see family and friends I and reminded of Chris and it sobers me right up. I never thought it was fair, but the good do -die- young. So no you can’t do the things you used to do, because you being a good person sometimes is just not enuf!

    Comment by Fiona Edwards | August 16, 2007

  4. You know what happened? Society happened. When society told us how to raise our kids. When society told us what we could and could not do to our kids. Not to play the race game but when white people accused us (black people) of abusing our kids when they got hit. My mother beat me and I turned out fine. (And I sure as heck dont have a problem with beating mine!)Now when you beat your kids you hurting them but when the system gets them they beat them or far worse they kill them. So kids today now have it in their mine “well if my parents hit me I can just call DYFS or 911”. So if society doesnt allow us to discipline our kids what do we do? We need to go back to the beatings and the whippings and take our kids back. We need not be friends to our kids but parents. Let them know who is in charge. Let them know that society is not taking care of them (feeding, clothing or providing a roof). Let them know that enough is enough. We need to stop blaming the next man for our kids actions and step up and let the kid take blame for their actions. Meaning stop trying to cover up their wrongs (make excuses) and let them pay the price for the wrongs they have done. In college I learned a poem from the Alpha Phi Alpha Faternity which is nice learning tool to live by it’s called “EXCUSES” – excuses are tools of the incompetent, they build monuments of nothingness and bridges that lead t know where. Those who excel in excuses seldom excel in anything else. This is where society has gone …down a road full of excuses.

    Comment by Uonisha | August 16, 2007

  5. Much of it goes back to parenting. What happened to ole school punishment? The biggest problem teens having kids, not being responsible parents, allowing their kids to do whatever they want and when they want. Theses days parents think that “it’s cute” when their little kids mouth off or throw a fit, or talk back and act like spoil brats. Cute??? They are only breeding little terrorists, waiting to take cuteness to the next level…robbing, stealing, taking someone else’s life. It’s pretty sad and ridiculous.

    Comment by clover | August 16, 2007

  6. I too agree it’s starts at home. I’ve never been one to try and be my daughter’s friend, I’m her MOTHER! If we don’t set the tone first & foremost, then it will be too late. These kids today have no value for life. If they don’t respect their parents, no-one else will ever matter. Society will not raise my daughter, I will. No one will tell me whether or not to hit or how to hit my daughter. That A?? gets it when needed. And anyone else’s in my presence. How did I go from going to New Years Eve’s in NY by myself to not wanting to go anywhere by myself? I’m afraid for all my family & friends. But we must continue. They took prayer out of school but they did not take it out of the home. We must teach our kids & trained them according to how we want them to grow up. If they get off the path, then we must get it straight immediately. I’m sickened by the thought of these young kids being killed. If u get the chance, check out the tribute on U-Tube that was put together, two of them. I’m sure more to follow – Smooches

    Comment by jerzeecook | August 17, 2007

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