Tuesday, October 9, 2007

College Is No Sanctuary From The Violence

Stop The Violence Ribbon

Unfortunately for our young men not even following the rules, staying out of trouble, and going to school is enough. Taylor Bradford was such a young man by all accounts, he was a good athlete, a good student, and came from a good two-parent home. Mr. Bradford had the world in front of him and seemed prepared to make the most of it. Regrettably, he will never have that chance you see Mr. Bradford was murdered on the campus of Memphis University. The sad part is that a vibrant and bright young light has been extinguished. What makes it truly tragic is that it wasn’t done by racism or police, no it was done by other young black men.

(NewsChannel 5) MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A former Antioch High School football player was fatally shot on the University of Memphis campus in what police believe was a targeted attack.

Taylor Bradford, 21, apparently was shot near a university housing complex about 9:45 p.m. Sunday and then crashed a car he was driving into a tree a short distance away on campus.

Bradford was a young man who had every opportunity in front of him. Growing up in a loving and strict household Taylor learned the values he needed to be successful in life. He was well on his way until Sunday night.[1]

It seems that there was a rumor floating around campus that young Mr. Bradford had recently won a few thousand dollars at a local casino. His good fortune was short-lived; his winnings had made him a target for robbery and murder. I would be saddened if this were an isolated incident, but it isn’t we read daily of how some of our most promising young people are cut down and no one says a word. There is a moment of silence and some candlelight vigil and yet the carnage continues.

We teach our young people to go to school, to study hard, and to go to college in an effort to overcome the violence of the streets. We tell them, if they do these things they can escape the hardships that surround them and yet when they do we are unable to protect them from those harsh realities. Is there no safe place for our children? Why can’t we protect them? We hold rallies for nooses, but everyday our children are killed right in front of us. Though he was undeserving of the jail sentence he received atleast Mychal Bell would have been alive by the racism he faced. Mr. Bradford will not receive the same fate; his life was cut short by a different type of racism. The most insidious kind of racism is the kind that pits one young black man against another for a few dollars.

The 21-year-old student, Devin Jefferson, was arrested Monday night and charged with first-degree murder in the perpetration, Sgt. Vince Higgins said.

The Memphis men, who were charged earlier Monday and are not students at the university, were identified as DaeShawn Tate, 21; Victor Trezevant, 21; and Courtney Washington, 22. All three were in police custody. None had an attorney Monday.

"He was targeted because there was some information that was out there and they believed he had some cash," said Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin.[2]

Yes this is racism alright; it is practiced daily in our communities where our youth despise each other so much they are willing to kill one another over nothing. Racism of the type where the value of a black life is counted less, not only by police and politicians, but also by the very black men who continually take them. How can we expect others to value what we take so cheaply? There has been a pattern developing over the last generation, a pattern of violence and envy. A pattern of where if your shoes are better than mine, I kill you; if your rims are shiner than mine, I kill you.

There was an incident here in Missouri a few days ago, a young black man was chased through the park by another young black man and killed for what reason no one knows. If these were white men killing our young black men at this pace we would have marches and demonstrations and telethons, but because it is other black men doing the killing there is silence.

The hypocrisy must stop. Does it really matter who is killing our kids, our brothers, our sons? The response has to be the same, there has to be swift condemnation and action. No longer can we afford to turn a blind eye to the carnage that is becoming our cities. This is not just the drug dealers and thugs killing each other they are killing our best and our brightest. They are killing our mothers, grandmothers, and fathers. No one is safe from this violence. If we can’t protect our families, who can we protect?

The time has come when we must stop relying on an indifferent government and police to protect our loved ones. The Panthers not only protected our communities from external threats, but the internal ones as well. Who are we protecting?

Tammy Harless has been the Bradfords neighbor for 14 years and saw first hand the man Taylor Bradford was becoming.

"He was so sweet. He was respectable. He never raised his voice to anybody or got smart. He always was, ‘Yes, ma'am.' Like I said, the parents raised both those boys up very, very well," said Harless.[3]

[1] http://www.newschannel5.com/global/story.asp?s=7154429
[2] http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3055586
[3] http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=7154429

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