By Arlene Jones
This coming Thursday Nov. 28 is Thanksgiving Day. Families all over the country will gather for their traditional turkey dinner. It may also be the first time all year that the entire family gathers together to sit down and eat. It is also a good time for the matriarch or patriarch of the family to host discussions on current and future events, especially when it comes to what is going on in the lives of people under the age of 25.
This decade has brought a handful of young people's names to the national forefront. Trayvon Martin has in death symbolized how a young life can be "snuffed out" for no apparent reason other than being a black stranger in a predominately white neighborhood. On the flipside, there are a number of predominately young black people playing a game called "knock out."
While people walk down the street, they are viciously attacked with a single blow to the head rendering the victim unconscious. In some instances, the victim has died. A preventative discussion needs to happen to make sure young people in your household understand the negative impact of participating in such a sick activity.
Has everyone in the household gotten their high school diploma or GED? As I wrote in an earlier column, the criterion for earning a GED is changing beginning Jan. 1, 2014, as this country moves towards a standardized high school graduation test — there are fewer and fewer jobs that don't require a high school diploma.
What is the employment status of the young people who sit at the dinner table? Are they wearing expensive designer or name-brand clothing while not having worked a real job a day in their lives? Are their pants, while sitting at your dinner table, hanging beneath their buttocks? Are they earning their money by participating in criminal activities? Negative behaviors must be addressed and corrected.
The days of selling drugs on the corner unnoticed are coming to an end. Plus, cellphones are increasingly being used to incriminate their owners for having been in an area where a crime occurred.
Is everyone including you registered to vote, and is your registration for your current address? Midterm elections are right around the corner. As the power of our vote has been taken for granted, we must prepare to put those out of office who do us harm while electing those who will truly serve our needs. And before anyone claims that a certain party is our friend while the other's our enemy, a reminder: it was Republican governor, George Ryan, who put the moratorium on the death penalty and released those men off of death row; meanwhile, it was Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn who had to "think about" ending it.
The murder case of Kendrick Johnson should also be on the list of things to discuss. He is the young man killed in his high school gym when his 19-inch wide shoulders were shoved into a wrestling mat opening that was only 14-inches wide. His was not only a horrific murder, but when his body was exhumed for a second autopsy, they found that his body had been stuffed with newspaper ads; the majority of his skeletal frame was missing.
The selling of body parts by some funeral homes for medical research is a little talked about occurrence. It is more likely to happen when the face has been so badly damaged that it calls for a closed casket. Not a pleasant subject to be discussed over diner. But still, it's one that can't be avoided when we have the number of funerals occurring daily in our community. The flipside is the need for organ donations in the event of someone's death. As a group of people, we don't donate at the level we should, while at the same time if we need an organ we want to be on the list to get one.
Lastly, I want to end with a tribute to my friend Dilbert Tibbs. He died suddenly on Saturday, Nov. 23. He was a member of my writers group, The Perspectivists. He was a former death row inmate wrongly convicted for the murder of a 27-year-old man and rape of his 17-year-old girlfriend — based on an informant's testimony. He spent three years on death row before gaining his release.
Rest in Peace, Dilbert. You were loved and will be missed.
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