It is that time of the year when the champagne glasses are chilled and the confetti is bagged and ready for release. Resolutions are being listed and the anticipation of 2016 far outweighs the most unpleasant memories of 2015. But for some, actually for too many, 2016 will not and cannot be a Happy New Year. For some, for too many, the deaths of loved ones due to inexplicable and inexcusable gunfire cloud the dawn of the New Year, and that of every New Year that may follow.
Freddie Gray may not have led the most distinguished life, but he was someone’s child and did not deserve to die in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. His family and those who loved him still await some measure of justice. Tamir Rice was a child who had yet to live his life and he was summarily executed by a member of the Cleveland Police Department who, we have learned, will not be indicted for any criminal charges. The parents of Tamir Rice will never know him as a man and, as of now, will never know even a small measure of justice after unspeakable tragedy.
Dylan Roof was not a member of any law enforcement agency, but he enforced the Law of the Gun, slaughtering nine black worshippers in South Carolina even as they prayed. Tyshawn Lee was gunned down by demented gangbangers on the meanest streets of Chicago and his small corpse was added to the endless awful body count.
The toll of death by gun in the national black community can only be displayed on a crazed kaleidoscopic scoreboard when the numbers only go up while dreams and hopes go to hell. And all the while a dollar-driven interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution keeps the industrial spigot spewing rifles and pistols and shotguns and automatic pistols and machine guns into the streets – and so the blood continues to flow in the streets.
The Black Lives Matter Movement began, not to identify the lives of black Americans as exceptional, but rather to make sure that black lives are not an exception in the national conversation about lives mattering. Certainly, a review of the history of the United States does not lead to an automatic conclusion that black lives matter.
Indeed, there are far too many actions by government and the private sector that have led to mass incarceration, limited life expectancy and limited life aspirations to automatically conclude that black lives do matter. And, there is also the dismaying and depressing reality that too often black Americans act as if black lives do not matter – a state of mind that is reflected in murder, mayhem and disrespect that is directed at other black people.
And so, as the New Year approaches, it remains to be seen whether it will be an unhappy one for even more people. For those already cloaked in sadness and despair we can hope that there are tomorrows which will reveal that the sun of expectation will again shine for them. Of course it will take more than hope….it will take a national change of mind. It will take a national change of heart. Indeed the heart and soul of this country will have to change for there to be any real chance of a Happy New Year.