Dateline: Minneapolis, MN
His mother cried from the time she exited the car til the time she arrived at the vigil every step seemingly pained her as she was surrounded by family who tried to console her.Her moans got louder as she neared the vigil at the scene where her 19 year old son Tabyis Paskins was killed, last Wednesday.
It was hard to hear this mother’s anguish and not somehow feel her pain. Tears were the appropriate response.
Her anguish is repeated almost daily in the inner cities of America, where too often young people are left to fend for themselves, and violence becomes the only sane response to an insane set of circumstances.
Making matters worse too many of us stand aside and look, or shake our judging heads.
Others having been given permission by far too many careless,un- thinking Black folks, to point to the killing as an excuse to accuse Black humanity of some innate failing. Some stoop as low as humanity can go, claiming the mantle of racial superiority while pointing to these killings as justification for State(police) killing of Black folks.
Consider the overwhelming irony, the nerve and unmitigated gall of folks who don’t like Black people expressing concern that Black people are killing one another. Gangbangers are less hypocritical and dishonest!
“A stupid killing” is what the Hennepin County prosecutor said after announcing that they had charged a 17 year old with the killing. Michael Freeman bemoaned gun violence, but he is the same prosecutor who has refused to charge gun dealers who facilitate the reign of violence by making guns available on the street. Moreover it was just months ago that he made a decision that all but condoned the “stupid killing” of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police, who was Black and unarmed at the time.
However, stupid is the right term. Supposedly according to the 17 year old accused killer, he was shooting at Paskins friend who was riding his bike with Tabyis, because according to the killer, he was associated with a rival gang. Though Tabyis friend admitted that he was no longer affiliated with that clique the teen shot at him anyway, killing Tabyis.
Tabyis was without a doubt a good kid. Everyone on these occasions looks for something good to say about those victimized, but Tabyis really was a good guy. All of his friends spoke highly of him. He and about four young men were like brothers. I was struck by how even the mothers of his friends spoke well of Tabyis too.
Tabyis even stood with those seeking justice for Jamar Clark. Tabyis sister Quay asked if he would help to canvass to get word out about an upcoming march and he said yes without hesitation. This writer had the good fortune to be with him on that occasion and I remember it was a bit cold out and he didn’t have the best of gloves, but he passing out flyers without a complaint. I was impressed.
He died being a dutiful son and nephew his Aunt and his mother had sent him to check on his grandmother that morning. His aunt expressed regret that she sent him, but fate could not be avoided. Rumor has it that his friend who was riding with him regretted taking a shorter route.” If only” folks were thinking.
But there is no avoiding the fallout from a society that has continually oppressed Black folks since their arrival and has created ghetto’s and ghetto like conditions that they have abandoned, while pretending they don’t exist and blaming it for its failures.
Incidentally Minneapolis has perfected the ability to create ghetto’s without ghetto looking conditions.
If only Tabyis’ shooter had felt he had something to live for. If only he had a summer job. If only his school was up to par. If only someone in the school or community showed him love. If only drugs weren’t plentiful and guns so handy. If only this young man had something to look forward to, to hope for. If only there were no gangs to take advantage of his need to belong. If only he loved himself and overcame the voices we all hear telling us “we are nobody.” If only he had not felt rejected by Tabyias and his friend when they said they wanted no part of gang life.
Ironically, the Hebrew “Tobias” which Tabyis name is drawn from means “God is good.” Seemingly this is a contradiction because of the mean circumstances of one of our young taken away from so early. But the Creator cannot be blamed “It” is indeed good it is THE SYSTEM that is ultimately the progenitor of all this violence that is bad.
If only Tabyis was still here! But he is not and heaven does not have a ghetto so his worries are over. We must use his death as a clarion call to overcome what ails “all” of us or die trying.
justice then peace