With a homicide rate 42% higher now than in 2020, it's time for H-Town to take a hard look in the mirror
HOUSTON, Texas — "I've seen fire and I've seen rain . . . I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end," James Taylor once sang. "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend . . . But I always thought that I'd see you again."
The last time I saw Chris, my childhood pal from the Cuney Homes, in his characteristic macho yet loving voice, he mumbled to me and my then-girlfriend: "Y'all flew way from New York, huh, so I know y'all must be hungry?"
A few weeks ago when I got the crushing news Chris had been murdered, I cried. And then — cried some more! After all, I always thought I'd see my old pal again.
The last time I saw Aaron Masters, we did what we'd been doing since elementary: debated on and on about who's got more game on the court.
When I got the crushing news Aaron had been fatally shot, I cried. And then — cried some more! After all, I always thought I'd see my fellow Pisces again.
According to the latest alarming report:
In 2020, over 400 homicides were recorded in the city of Houston. In 2021, we are already pushing 225 homicides with more days to go in the month of June.
To put the above heart-wrenching numbers into perspective, Houston is on pace to average roughly two people murdered a day. Why? Due to senseless gun violence!
As for this year's fatal shooting of Taju-Deen, on Telephone Road, when Black Ben gave me the news over the phone, I literally cried myself to sleep. After all, I always thought I'd see my fellow Pisces again.
When another of my childhood pals left Houston to start a new life in Minneapolis, Perry did so primarily due to how dangerous H-Town had become. As for Perry, the last time I saw him, I told him how much I looked up to him growing up, even noting how I followed in his footsteps to play basketball at Yates and at Texas A&M in Kingsville.
When I got the news Perry had been murdered, I cried. And then — cried some more! After all, I always thought I'd see the gentle giant again.
Houston's gun culture is part of the problem
"Now who wanna play with guns?" Jeezy once asked. "A lot of holes, a lot of blood, dawg, this ain't fun (nope)."
Perhaps too much glorification of the "Wild, Wild, West" pervades not just Houston but Texas as a whole. After all, in Texas, the senate recently passed an absurd bill that allows Texans to carry handguns without a license or training starting Sept. 1.
Now think about that for a second. ...
In New York City, the gun laws are so strict that when star receiver Plaxico Burress — who helped win NYC a Super Bowl — accidentally shot himself, he wound up being hit with a 2-year prison sentence.
No wonder NYC made the top 5 list for "surprisingly safe big cities in America."
In short, because "you become what you give your attention to," noted Epictetus, if Houstonians are swarmed by gory images that glorify guns and a culture that promotes "staying strapped," then quite naturally a "shoot first, ask questions last" culture will result.
Time to highlight the true horrors of gun culture
"It's a hell of a thing, killing a man," Bill Munny said. "You take away everything he's got . . . and everything he's ever gonna have."
Perhaps the next time state legislators roar about passing some new gun law, they'll also show images of grieving mothers — dressed in all black — crying over their murdered child's casket. After all, it only takes one squeeze of a trigger to take away someone's precious life.
Perhaps the next time some rapper boasts of how many guns he packs, he'll remember why Jeezy asked, "Now who wanna play with guns?" After all, live by the gun — die by the gun!
Years ago a buddy of mine asked would I join him at the shooting range. I fired back, "Not in this lifetime! Don'tcha know the three wise monkeys cautioned — see no violence (gun flash) . . . speak no violence (gun mentions) . . . hear no violence (gun sound)."
And just as it's monkey see, monkey do, it's also human don’t see — human don’t do! In other words, time to stop needlessly exposing Houston's youth to images of gunplay.
Due to guns, a generation of Houstonians has been left traumatized. The family and friends of these victims of senseless gun violence are left heartbroken. Forever! After all, it's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.
Each year when March 15 rolls around, I always think of calling Cal Wayne. But the mere thought of the convo always proves to be too painful. Yet on Aaron's birthday, my mother's husband was born. Indeed, though the pain is invisible — I can never hide the scars.
Last year on October 14, I wanted to call PJ. After all, given that we'd spent so many days on Miss Cissy's floor playing Zelda and Contra, I suspected on Perry's birthday — in the aftermath of his passing — it would be difficult. But the mere thought of the convo was too painful.
Indeed, though the pain is invisible — I can never hide the scars.
In short, it's time for Houston to take a hard look in the mirror. And in so doing, just maybe we as a city can collectively realize:
Time to put the guns down!
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