Senseless Violence Takes the Lives of 3 in Newark, N.J.

Though unrelated to the music scene, this has grabbed my attention and fury these past few days. This past Saturday, August 4th, 4 young African-American adults were shot execution style with 3 of them succumbing to their wounds. Two men, two women. They were all due to attend Delaware State University this fall. One of the young ladies tried to enroll for two years before finally being accepted. Dashon Harvey (20 yrs. old-pictured at top), Iofemi Hightower (20 yrs. old), Terrance Aeriel (18 yrs. old-pictured below with Iofemi) and Terrance's sister Natasha Aeriel (19 yrs. old) were told to kneel and shot in a school playground during an apparent robbery attempt. Natasha is the only surviving victim and has been able to give details to the authorities about the incident. We hear about this senseless violence repeatedly and it most often occurs within communities of people of color. Newark, N.J. is a predominately African-American community (with a history of blacks in postions of Mayor and Police chief) that has seen a continued rise in homicides over several years. Between the gang clashes, heroin trade and car thefts, Newark's residents have had to deal with a war on their quality of life. I am disgusted by the frequent murders, shootings and overall victimization of people within these communities. I was raised in public housing and I still live in the hood. I see some of these same knuckleheads on the street everyday that could potentially take my life/my neighbor's life/my relative's life. Things pop off when in the wrong place at the wrong time, Things can pop off when simply walking to the bodega for some milk. I don't live in fear but I always wonder when are we going to truly get tired of all of this? Due to the economic conditions of the residents and the lack of available employment in some cases, many become trapped in the way of the hustle or frustrated from the lack of economic growth. It is definitely not an excuse, but it is understood. Although these challenges remain present after many generations, I still question why do we allow this element to fester within our communities? We can't blame the government for everything. Urban residents have to demand better law enforcement from the authorities and simultaneously make the hood aware that "We ain't having this shit over here".
I understand the fear of "snitching" and keeping silent about any knowledge of such heinous crimes. The residents are not protected from retaliation and often you have family members and/or friends who maybe involved in some type of criminal activity. Collectively we cannot condone any of this nonsense and there has to be a greater effort on the part of parents and the community at large to enact change. Within lower income and poor white communities, there is not this level of gun violence and victimization of each other. Newark is similar to Mount Vernon, New York in the way that there is a historically black populace filled with homeowners and suburban details. Meanwhile both are at odds with the criminal element within.

To all the youth, please take a moment to recognize your strength and potential for positive growth. Curb the addiction for instant gratification and fast money. Educate yourself through schools, churches, and libraries. Avoid prison. Control your anger. See the worth of another's life. We are a reflection of each other and what happens to one random victim can happen to one of your relatives. Generations that came before you have suffered through worse. Blood has been spilled to ensure that you can have certain rights, opportunities and economic access to the system. Yes, the system is f--ked up at times but the opportunity to make it work in your favor exists.

To all the adults, please take some time to become involved in young people's lives. Educate them from home to supplement the schools. Turn off the TV and talk to your family. Stop being selfish with your time. Stay aware of your childrens interests and friendships. Stop thinking its cute to dress your child as a thug. You can help build a child's character and confidence by teaching them how to walk amongst the world of the street and the boardroom. Go to PTA meetings. I know it can be difficult juggling work and feeding the kids, but you have to put an effort in place to enact change in the coming generation.

Hey Spike, I am still shouting WAKE. UP!!!!!!

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