Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spoken Word: "In the Clouds: A Poem for Arshell"

I am having a really hard time trying to find the words to complete this post.

August has been deemed the 'most violent month in Chicago in 20 years with 84 homicides,' according to the Chicago Tribune. The headline didn't include 84 homicides...and counting. 

Click "Read More" for the full article

Click-clack. Shots fired. Gun violence rears its ugly head again and again and again. How dare I try to catch a glimpse of sympathy for my inability to write a couple paragraphs when the fact remains another person no longer has a pulse. 

[Related: 'Just Airing it Out': A story on culture shock]

I'm not downplaying the inevitable truth that with life comes death. I understand that death can come like a thief in the night when one least expects it. But why does the thief have the ability to make a home in a neighborhood where the ratio of getting shot is the same as the ratio of a green light turning red? I'm not undermining the harsh cold reality that embedded in the system is a long list of societal injustices. You name it. Poverty. Broken families, absent fathers, lackluster educational systems, drugs and gangs. 

By the time I found out that a journalism student from my alumnus, St. John's University, became a victim of gun violence, the story was already covered by multiple media outlets. It was old news. In journalism, the news cycle is in constant motion - one headline after the other. The lifeline of one news story can become 'old news' in a matter of days. It doesn't mean the story is insignificant, but with every passing second, something else newsworthy has occurred and a new headline must emerge.

What gets lost are the moments unseen - the moments when a wooden casket gets a new owner or when a eulogy has to be spoken again and again and again.

Arshell Dennis was the vice president of the NAACP chapter at St. John's and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, was shot in front of his home in Chicago just before his junior year.

I wanted to share his voice, not because the answer to senseless acts of violence will be answered in a single post, but because not every homicide victim gets heard. So let's listen. 

The news inspired the inner poet in me to write as well. This is called 'Words in the Clouds: A Poem for Arshell'. R.I.P.

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