Even though spring is barely upon us and winter is still a vivid memory, I wonder and fear what the summer will bring. Because this will be the first summer that everyone in Austin will spend knowing the rough economic times we’re in. Now for some folks, their economic conditions have never changed. They were doing badly five years ago and they are still doing badly today.
But for others, this will be their first summer struggling to hold on to what they have. And because they are struggling, the long hot summer is sure to magnify everything. From job loses, to higher taxes, an uncertain economic future, and our inability to be civil towards each other, we are in for one hell of a ride this summer. Especially when you add into the mix the people who have given up and just don’t care.
Now, I’m not talking about just anybody who “doesn’t care.” I’m speaking of the people who are dealing with so many first-time frustrations – those that have taken the “I-just-don’t-care” mantra. For example: a while back, I ran into a friend who was telling me about their next door neighbor. My friend loves to take care of their property. Keeping it clean, mowing the lawn, and just enjoying living in their home. The next-door neighbor has a bunch of children who do everything they can to upset my friend.
They throw paper on the ground and into the yard. They walk across my friend’s lawn, squishing their feet like they are trying to kill the grass. They stand in front of the house hollering and screaming so that my friend can’t sit in the living room and watch television. And the adults in the household who should be in charge of the children are not receptive to anyone saying anything about what those children do. To a large degree, they even encourage the children to behave as such. So what does the economic times have to do with a situation like this?
Well, in good times, my friend could tolerate it. But with so many forces working against my friend, they are at their rope’s end. So when my friend told me about getting so angry with those kids that they wanted to get a gun and shoot everyone in the house, well, that is a threat not to be ignored.
But that was last year. My fear now is what this summer will bring. As people like my friend find themselves under so many pressures, how will they respond to situations that under better times would have been handled more calmly? Will small things turn into larger issues as people so frustrated with life are giving up hope? In the news recently are two incidents I see as examples of people losing it and not caring. The first is the case of Nova Henry.
She is the young woman who had dated and gave birth to the child of former Chicago Bull center Eddie Curry. She used an attorney, Fred Goings, to file a paternity suit against Curry. She later gave birth to a daughter whose last name was Goings. But it turned out that Eddie Curry was the father of that child.
It’s now alleged that Fred Goings shot and killed Henry and the baby. Henry was shot six times, including in the head, back arms and legs. The baby was shot in the head and back. That is a lot of pent-up rage and frustration going on inside the killer’s mind, whoever that person is.
Or, take the case of Kerby Revelus in Massachusetts. No one is clear what exactly set off the 23-year-old man on a killing spree. As police entered his residence responding to a disturbance call, he was decapitating his 5-year-old sister’s head. Boston police officers shot him dead as he then attacked his 9-year-old sister, who survived and was hospitalized. They found that he had also stabbed his 17-year-old sister to death.
These two cases involved black-on-black killings. But the cases also show that for many of us, the old adage that “blacks just don’t do those sort of things” is forever thrown out the window. Black people are now serial killers and mass murderers, capable of committing any heinous crime that years prior we would only attribute to the white society at large.
As the summer approaches, I’d like to see those in position of leadership do something they haven’t done in a long time: actually lead. I’d like to see the same anger displayed when a cop kills an innocent citizen. I’d like to see the multitude of churches-especially all the storefront ones-open every single day to give the kids a place to go and something to do. I’d like to see every neighborhood in Austin have an active block club where neighbors can work out their differences.
Lastly, for each and every one of us who are losing their temper over dumb stuff, let’s just take a moment to pause and think before we act. Every molehill doesn’t have to be made into a mountain.