On a hot, summer night a few days ago, children frolicked innocently enjoying their neighborhood’s playground while their parents and other adults watched from nearby, perhaps sipping on a frosted beer or a lemon-flavored iced tea, all in the seemingly safe environs of a courtyard in Northeast. Then, without warning, a black vehicle appeared, four masked Black males exited and began shooting indiscriminately.
As the 15 or 20 men, women and children scattered hoping to find safety, and after the senseless barrage of gunfire came to an end, the shooters disappeared back into the once idyllic night in their vehicle, which police have since identified as a black Infiniti SUV.
One witness said the number of shots that suddenly pierced the evening sky, interrupting the sing-song sounds and banter often associated with a fun-filled block gathering, came so rapidly and repeatedly that he could not discern how many rounds were actually fired.
And, as has far too often been the case, a little girl, just 10, has been shot and killed. She will never attend her prom, or have fun considering which college she will attend. She’ll never celebrate the serene pleasure that comes with that very first kiss or experience that indescribable feeling that jolts us to our core when we discover true love. Meanwhile, her family must attempt to make sense out of the senselessness and try to deal with their sorrow and loss, as will we all, because a young child — a beloved daughter, sister, grandchild, or friend — along with unfulfilled hopes and dreams for her future — have ended without rhyme or reason.
Those of us old enough to remember “the good old days” will admit that life back then was far from perfect. Truth be told, there were some aspects of life a generation or two ago that some of us would rather forget. But the notion of a “drive-by shooting” was something with which we did not have to contend. When disagreements arose in the Black villages of old, folks raised their fists in Joe Louis-like fashion. Some attempted to “float” and “sting” following a strategy employed by Ali. There may have even been a few brass knuckles or knives included in the mix. But shooting into a crowd, even if the intended victim was seen among the throng of innocent others, was not the way we Black folks handled our business, dispelled our anger or sought our revenge.
Once upon a time, we cherished and honored the entire village: the elders, women who hugged us when we were sad and encouraged us back to joy, men who were fathers, figuratively or biologically, always protecting the babies, no matter what the cost — those who would become tomorrow’s adults and leaders, then assuming responsibility for maintaining the safety of the village people and their survival.
D.C. Mayor Bowser posted on her Twitter feed, “Enough is enough.” We concur. And for the sake of the village, and so many other villages whose futures remain more and more in doubt, we call for a return to more sensible rules of order — rules of the past. We cannot allow such goings-on to continue while those who would prefer to bring about the destruction of our villages go unidentified, never held accountable for their misdeeds. We are not animals, we are families. When will we illustrate this truth by our deeds?
We pray that the community will muster the courage to stand in unity, if for no one else than for our babies who deserve the chance to become adults and share their gifts in their familiar villages or in villages that have yet to be seen.