On Derrion Albert



{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}

I'm still having a hard time processing how I feel about the death of Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old Chicago high school student who was brutally beaten by a group of young men not much older than Albert. I'm sure by now you've all seen that devastating video footage, read the articles about him, heard the official White House response to this tragedy. All I know is, I'm tired. Our best and brightest young men and women cut down before they reach their full potential. Many times, it happens when those in power abuse their authority. But too often, it's perpetrated by their own people. So what happens next? I think the following statement might be a good start:

/////"What I'm tired of is people reacting to tragedy with false hope... with lazily organized boycotts and protests, etc...Quit being so reactionary people. Make a plan for 50 years and execute that slowly and steadily. If every time a black man gets killed we reinvent the wheel we ain't going no where for a long ass time. Stop pushing hope like it's crack... We need plans... history... insight... identity... not another protest and corny ass boycott that's organized via email or yahoo groups."/////

The above statement was from an anonymous email regarding Sean Bell, a victim of police brutality. However, the main concept behind it is more than relevant to the case of Albert and the four teenagers charged with his death. (Interestingly enough, only one of the teenagers charged have a criminal record and the one who does wasn't charged with a violent crime. Contrary to initial reports, this was not a fight between rival gangs, but students from different neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago -- Altgeld Gardens and Roseland.)

The above statement is a reminder that this problem didn't start this year and it won't end that quickly either. It took years for us to get to this point and it'll be several more years before we work past it. The point is to keep working. Keep working to improve the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health of our young men and women as well as support those who are doing that without fanfare.

Or maybe that's not even enough. Honestly, have more questions than answers. I'm not sure what motivates someone to think that beating someone else with a 2 by 4 is fair game. I'm also not sure what motivates someone to film the whole thing instead of trying to help. But I'm glad they did, because it challenges us to ask questions and spark a larger, sustained dialogue.