Derrion Albert - Victim Of a Society That's Lost Touch...
In preparation for writing this blog I viewed the video footage yet again for the 5th or 6th time. While gruesome, I needed to see it again…to remind myself of the ugliness that plagues our society. Derrion is victim of a society that’s lost touch…that’s lost its way…that’s lost its purpose in providing quality schools and safe streets for children to travel to and fro. I simply cannot wrap my mind around the gravity of what transpired on those streets. I’m not in denial – I know all too well the gritty reality that faces our young people everyday across the country, but I choose not to accept it.
You see, I am the eternal optimist as hope springs in abundance throughout every fiber of my being. Even in this present valley, I refuse to be desensitized to the senseless violence that plagues our streets, robbing humanity of our future. I will not sit idly by and throw up my hands and say “that’s how it is in the world we live in today.” For me, and hopefully for each of you, this simply cannot and will not be the only option.
To say I’m profoundly sad is an understatement. To say I’m discouraged is far too simple. But rather, I must say that I’m determined more than ever to ensure that children do not fear for their safety at the expense of getting an education.
Contrary to popular belief a 16-yr old is still a child even if masquerading as an adult. Think about the events that unfolded…a group of children were gathered along a route from school to their respective neighborhoods and a young person is kicked, stomped, punched and hit by a 2x4 designed for construction. Shame on us as adults for not provided the needed resources to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe. This is an all-too familiar tale. We must reclaim our future street by street, house by house, apartment by apartment and family by family.
As adults, we have a duty, an obligation, a responsibility to provide for, nurture, guide our young people. What happens when humanity loses its soul? What happens when drama kings and drama queens no longer can comprehend the value of a human life? What happens when we no longer see the glass as half empty or half full but rather have no concept of the glass as a container at all?
My prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones of this befallen youth and the countless others whose stories have yet to see the light of day. Even more so, my heart aches to no end for the young people who have replaced despair with hope, those who have replaced optimism with fear and those who have replaced their future with random, senseless acts of violence.
My heart aches because they may know the difference between the above, they lack the ability to comprehend that life is more than their corner, their block, their great room or their strip mall. We need a revival in America…reviving the power and ethic of personal achievement and responsibility. Each of us is endowed with the ability to thrive in this country within which we live.
Understand this – being a man or woman is a matter of birth, but being a man or woman who makes a difference is a matter of choice. How are you making a difference to leave the world better than you found it? When is the last time you stepped foot on a campus, took time out of your day to show compassion for a young person or serve as a mentor for someone who needed you most? I compel each of you to think long and hard about what you must do in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Please ma’am, please sir – make a commitment to OUR future by ensuring our future is bright and our young people are ready to meet the challenges ahead.
I leave you with these words by Mary McCleod Bethune from her “Last Will and Testament” written in 1954:
“I LEAVE YOU FINALLY A RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. The world around us really belongs to youth for youth will take over its future management. Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow. Nor must they forget that the masses of our people are still underprivileged, ill-housed, impoverished and victimized by discrimination. We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”
Byron V. Garrett, Chief Executive Officer - National PTA