By Kathy Sanders –
As a mother of three girls, grandmother of two boys, and sister to four brothers, I have to be concerned with the ongoing murders of black men.
It is only a matter of time before this tragedy hits close to home. I hope this article will give pause to some and invoke thought before action to save the lives of my future sons-in-law, current and future grandsons, brothers, nephews, uncles, and cousins here in the United States.
I was sitting a luncheon last September watching a group of well-to-do individuals give recognition and a check to a Pee Wee football team, taking pictures and so forth. They also interviewed a panel of Carolina Panther players about their strategies for the next game and the rest of the season. At that moment, I realized there is a huge disconnect in the American psyche.
Let me explain. At this luncheon and around the country, we’re encouraging young athletes to continue their athletic pursuits which could lead to college scholarships for higher education or even professional contracts. We’re showing these young boys the end result by interviewing three of the 1,920 elite NFL players. There are only 1,920 in the whole world, out of the millions of young boys who play in parks, streets, anywhere. There are fewer than 450 NBA players and 750 official MLB players. There are hundreds of thousands of college student-athletes who play every week. Some are injured; most earn a degree; many fail to finish for various reasons.
What I want to talk about the ones who didn’t make it. I want to take you back to a time when you played Pee Wee football, AAU, sports or school athletics. Some of you just watched sports or played with the neighborhood kids in the park or in the street. Think of your teammates or opponents: young boys or girls you knew or just met for the day.
Can you see their faces, smell their body odor or remember their smiles after playing hard, winning or losing? Were you in the stands cheering for your son’s or daughter’s team to win? Cheering for the star who carried the team to victory week after week…that little boy or girl from the poor neighborhood around the way?
You and your parents were happy to see him or her. Maybe they had little or no parental support in the stands. They didn’t have the right gear, food or a ride, but came anyway. Maybe you and your family helped when you could, so he or she would continue to play. Maybe they helped you.
As I sat at the luncheon, I realized how unlikely it is that someone would shoot the eight- or 10-year-old Pee Wee football player; it’s even less probable that someone would shoot one of the 1,920 NFL players as they drive in an expensive car. Then I asked myself, “Why is it open season on the forgotten or unfortunate?”
Not every child can be on the TV, playing on Sunday or any other day of the week. Thousands make it … but many millions don’t.
Please don’t forget the faces of the millions that don’t. When you pull them over for a traffic violation, or they call you because their car breaks down in the street, don’t shoot. If they’re selling loosies on the sidewalk or playing with a toy gun in the park … don’t shoot. Don’t call the police when they knock on your door for your help … help them. If they have a conceal/carry permit and a gun … don’t shoot. When you’re cut off in traffic, don’t shoot. When their water bill is delinquent, don’t shoot.
Remember their faces, their smiles, and that they didn’t make it. They are regular hard-working people, not elite athletes or superstars. Look them in their eyes. See them. They might be saying, “Remember Me—we were on the same team or in the same class in middle school.”
I’m talking to all of you, the neighbors, parents in the old neighborhood, the storeowners, not just the cops.
Remember Me… Don’t Shoot!