The rugged rhythm of Shook Ones-Part II by Mobb Deep flows through my body like blood. The pressure of the beat triggers a series of head nods and shoulder sways. Classic hip-hop.
The song paints a raw picture of a different side of life in my hometown of Queens, New York. For slightly over five minutes I am able to peer into the looking glass at Queensbridge without leaving my middle-class neighborhood. I never had to live the life they talked about.
When I was growing up I could just be a kid. I played with friends on my street without fear. Our neighbors would look out for us. They'd even tell our parents if they saw us doing something wrong. I did not have to worry about the possibility of being hit by an assassin’s bullet. At worse, an older man may have said something fresh to me as I came home from school in my Catholic school uniform. Therefore, the notion of fighting for survival was foreign to me. It was a different time.
The television in my living room is muted to the six o' clock news. I dislike watching the news these days because there is too much going on in the world. Too much destruction. Too much unrest. Too much anger. Too much need. Too many people fighting for survival in the war on our own soil. If you look out of your front window, there is a possibility that you may witness live combat.
As the final notes of the song begin to trail off, the room is silent. My eyes meet the face of a young woman holding an infant on the television screen. It was clearly apparent that she was distraught by the movement of her body. Tears soon began to stream down her clear brown skin. She was undone.
Then, the video of the crime scene began to play. It was dark. The scene was highlighted only by yellow tape. There were small, tent-like markers identifying the shell casings left behind. This was followed by a photo of the victim. Another Black male dead.
It’s a scene that we see too often. Chicago. New York. Philadelphia. Atlanta. Pick a city. The story is the same. Black and brown hued people are dying.
We can turn our heads. We can close our eyes. We can behave as if violence is not our problem, but it is our problem. Violence looms in the inner city. It chills in the suburbs. Violence kicks in the front door of your home while you are sleeping. It rides in the lane next to you on city streets waving weapons in your direction. It creeps up behind you when you're putting air in the tires of your automobile at the gas station. It follows you home and waits for you to put the key in your door. Violence hunts you as its' prey.
I am deeply troubled by the number of people