East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"

Imitation of life.

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One of Philly's many murals. Taken by me in summer 2010.
I've been a fan of Rod Dreher for a few years now. I've followed him from Beliefnet all the way over to The American Conservative where he blogs now. Back in 2010, when he was editor-in-chief at Big Questions Online, he sent me an email query about writing for that site (it never panned out). Last year, he linked to one of my blog posts and I wound up with a huge page view increase (thanks!).
Rod's writing (and his photos, I wish he'd post more) combine depth, intelligence, rationality and heart, not an easy task for sure. He has Southern charm and some Northeastern bite, a trait to which this Jersey girl can relate. All this (earnest) fawning comes as a preface of the actual subject of this post, his series of articles (here and here) on crime and violence amongst young Black males. 
Ahhhhh... I hate this topic. I hate that Black dudes are channeling The Wire and killing each other with abandon. I hate that many more are rotting their lives away in prisons nationwide. I hate that many young boys in Detroit, Chicago (especially Chicago), Philadelphia, Camden and Newark are aspiring to this... imitation of life... desecration of life... destruction of life. I hate that many Black websites only skim the subject, using it to rehash slavery, segregation and the past, but don't offer a single workable solution for the present. I hate that many (but certainly not all) Black churches are similarly mute on fixing these problems of the here and now, offering up promises of paradise in the future. I hate that so many of those same churches host funeral after funeral for these boys. Homegoings for those who unlike Kanye, will never come home again. I hate that white people fear us. I hate even more that with this violence, they have reason to. I hate that even though I share the same skin color, I'm scared as hell of them, too. 
But what I hate most is that because of their foolish actions, people look down on my husband. Keiron, raised in Trinidad and Brazil, didn't know about being searched by cops for drugs he didn't have until he came here for college. It was here in the states where police drew guns on him for fitting the description: "Male, Black, 6 ft., wearing a white tee and a baseball cap". That was years ago, but you'll never catch him out in just a Hanes and a fitted until this day. Despite being what John Derbyshire, in his inflammatory essay would label an "intelligent and well-socialized black", complete with advanced education and professional career, K is still followed suspiciously in stores and shunned by some our neighbors (at 5'2 and about 125 pounds wearing thick frames, I scare precisely no one). Soft spoken, spiritual, soccer and cricket lover, chess player, world traveller- he is all these things. But in the eyes of so many, he is one thing- Black. 
And I hate that one day, in a few years, I'll have to try to explain all this to our daughter, Zoe.
So I hate that Rod triggered all these thoughts in my head, endlessly looping with no resolve. I am, however, very thankful that he's broached the subject firmly, cautiously and respectfully. 
May a peaceful resolution soon come.

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