Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
The previous entry may have ticked some people off, not sorry I reposted it after it was removed. What may be a point of contention for some, not all, is the Snopes.com reference. I warned the readers with this one sentence:
“Let me just state Snopes is not your go-to-news when it comes to the hood, but I will say it is valuable in separating fact from fiction and in this case, definitely fiction.”
The fact still remains, there are continuous shootings in South (Central) L.A. The only thing I hope those who have a problem with the hashtag that has caused a lot of panic is that we can agree, something’s not right here. If you’ll read down, you’ll also noticed in the same entry it was pointed out:
“The reality living in the Southside of the city is that random shootings are a natural occurrence. Some are gang-related, others are not.”
“Just because the crime statistics favor quieter streets, they’re no reason to believe they’re not a danger as in the past. As a resident, you run the risk of getting shot whenever, wherever. A bullet doesn’t care what time of the day it finds you.”
Perhaps it’s not as ‘violent’ as it was back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but as long as you live in the hood, this is a reality the folks who live there are going to face. However, when it comes to the power of social media, those fears can be stoked hundredfold, and you cannot separate fact from fiction unless you check out and observe from a variety of sources, yes, that includes Snopes.
Off topic, I had to verify that a story which infuriated a member of my family appeared on Facebook was false. Once I informed this family member the website where the story appeared originated from a satire site, she seemed at ease with my findings. It’s not any coincidence these sites have popped up on social media within the last two years spreading rumors, fallacies that a person with a skill of critical thinking would believe, but there are users who are easily convinced these stories are true, so they link the fake articles from their profiles or pages and just run with it. Would it be any wonder the #100days story be any different? You decide.
This shouldn’t take from the work of concerned citizens who have deep, reliable sources within law enforcement, former gangbangers and a few others who want to improve the quality of life in South (Central) Los Angeles before gentrifiers arrive and make believe none of this ever happened. The eyes and ears of those who actually report what’s happening ‘on the ground’ are the sources to be believed first, before a hashtag takes all of us out of our rational, sane minds. (the ones that are left).
Hopefully, the past entry cleared some of that confusion for you, the reader. I did mention this in the last entry, and I believe this to be very true:
“Social media as my pastor reminded us in church today, isn’t evil. It’s the people who abuse the technology who are.” Social media has already proved to be a useful tool in organizing people with like minds towards a subject or cause that unifies them such as #BlackLivesMatter. However, we have often witnessed the flip side of that usage as it escalates into ignorance, fear or both. The verdict is still out on the #100days hashtag and the validity of what’s happening in the hood which happens every now and then. If these young millennials think it’s wild on the streets now, consider the ones who grew up under the madness when it first began, and still go through it. Those folks have seen and experienced more than their fair share and it’s a shame that it continues.
Submitted for your (dis) approval: So this issue has spread like wildfire in the past few days, here’s an entry that was posted a couple of days ago but I had removed it after hearing three different local news sources mention the hashtag of #100days100nights. (Yes, I’m ‘advertising’ it now too. Consider me guilty). After hearing from these sources, I removed the post but now that it’s proven there’s a bunch of ‘hocus pocus’ to this myth, (as of now, anything can happen still) I decided to repost the entry.
Sorry for this error, and I promise, this won’t happen again.
Original posting, July 26, 2015
Whenever a story comes out on social media, I use my researching skills to verify whether or not it’s true. Ladies and gentlemen, this author has been hoodwinked, bamboozled and deceived by a false ‘news’ story that here in South Central Los Angeles seemed real, but I remained skeptical, I needed more proof. Well, here it is and I’m definitely upset:
Before you click on the link, please be advised this story is FALSE (Courtesy of Snopes).
To whoever posted this hashtag and caused all of this unnecessary panic, please don’t ever play about this stuff, ever. There are too many community organizations and former gangbangers who want to improve this community, not destroy it as so many have done. It’s not about gentrification which will make absolutely, abundantly sure, the pain inflicted in past years is wiped away from memory. It’s funny when this story first came out on my friend’s timelines on Facebook and Twitter, critics resorted to renaming South Los Angeles as South Central Los Angeles (the former name). In their usual manner, the critics have been abrasive in their ‘humor’ of the tragedy of young men planning to eliminate a set number of residents.
Let me just state Snopes is not your go-to-news when it comes to the hood, but I will say it is valuable in separating fact from fiction and in this case, definitely fiction. I walked down my street today noticing a police helicopter flying by (when did they ever stop flying by?) and officers pulling over suspects. Nothing strange about that as it happens all the time here in the ‘hood, but this ‘story’ made it seem worse, which it wasn’t.
The reality living in the Southside of the city is that random shootings are a natural occurrence. Some are gang-related, others are not. When I returned back to the old neighborhood, I knew I had to watch my back and my surroundings. Too many people have too many guns in their hands without a good reason to use them, if there was such a thing. Just because the crime statistics favor quieter streets, they’re no reason to believe they’re not a danger as in the past. As a resident, you run the risk of getting shot whenever, wherever. A bullet doesn’t care what time of the day it finds you.
Social media as my pastor reminded us in church today, isn’t evil. It’s the people who abuse the technology who are. When it comes to stories like this which border on realism, it’s best to slow down, think and ask if it’s actually true or if you’re being played. In this case, the last post proves the latter and I don’t like it. In the future, it is my hope that brothers just chill and not consider this idea of taking human life, nor the posting and hashtags on social media of a story that has been refuted. The hood needs peace which after so long had it. It doesn’t need a reminder or a rehash of the anguish it went through.
Yes, the title says what it means: #PrayForLA.
Attention Millennials and others who happen to read this entry; you would think in these days of celebrating ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ that all of a sudden, racism is dead, poverty is conquered (because it’s never discussed), and all of the neighborhoods flooded with gang violence in the past, are safe. Look at those crime figures! Maybe you need to take a look again and remove yourselves from your social justice warrior cause of the week, because in the past few days the number is climbing.
There’s no need to advertise another hashtag which simply reads of the days and nights of a triple digit number. A number linked to homicides among residents living in the community. While Twitter users are busy fighting over #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter, the only topic not discussed in terms of the community where this madness appears is #StayingAliveMatters. Once you step outside the matrix of social media and the internet, it’s a whole different world out there on the streets, a world where one trip to the store may be your non-stop trip to the grave. A bullet doesn’t care if you’re a child, teenager or full grown adult. Once vengeance from street warriors has been enacted, all of us who are trying to live quality lives, are targeted.
This weekend and perhaps the rest of the year will be a reminder that no president, no candidates for president, not even a politically progressive crowd can ever fully understand what it means to live in a place like South (Central) Los Angeles or other areas impacted by gang violence such as East Oakland or Chicago. This issue is why I truly believe the name change to South Los Angeles or another alternative name advocated by our previous district city councilman, SOLA is ridiculous and naïve. As long as there are young men willing to ‘payback’ or placing bets on the number of lives they can exterminate, a simple name change will not erase the problems within that community. It just can’t be done.
The bullet doesn’t care for your gender or gender preference. It cares not if you attend church or not, all it does is end whatever earthly association you have and takes you away from the allies who support you. Politics mean nothing to the bullet because marches, endless chatter on how to ‘stop the violence and increase the peace’, music videos calling for a cease fire have not helped. Even though crime figures have been down for close to a decade, those of us who knew, who believed the low homicide statistics and low crime rate wouldn’t last long before déjà vu set in with the drive-by and walk-up shootings under a new generation who does not possess mercy or regret.
If anyone reading this is shocked by the recent news stories of random shootings here in South Los Angeles, at least you’ll have your social media accounts to fall back on and remove you from this reality. For the majority of us who continue to live through this madness daily, there is no escape except offer a prayer you won’t be the next victim, nor a hashtag with your name on it outside police violence. #PrayForLA? Pray for all of us.
Earlier today, I found out that my uncle Russell, who was one of the sharpest domino players in the family, passed on to meet the Lord. Our family reunion is coming up this weekend and unfortunately I wouldn’t have made it to have a chance to see him, at the least. It’s always tough when a family member dies. I remember speaking with one of my aunts at the last reunion ten years ago and we discussed publishing a book based on her poems. Little did I know, it would be one the last times I would ever see her. She died shortly thereafter. Maybe a year or two later.
When I used to visit the Bay Area before I moved there, I spent my Christmas holidays with my uncle and his wife playing dominoes (which he always wanted to pull out for those occasions) and we’d play our games until late in the evening. One of his favorite things to say was ‘let me see said the blind man’, and it was part of the sense of humor Russell had whenever my family and I went to see him. A lot of families say this about their departed loved ones; but my uncle was definitely the kindest, sweetest gentleman you would ever meet. He also could talk a lot of smack in dominoes if you’d let him too. I remember those days well. (big smile)
Death is reality. We can’t escape it no matter how hard we try, how often we wish it away, how discomforting it makes us. My uncle had delayed the inevitable for years and as hard as he fought, death came for him. I’m acting as a caretaker for my father now and death came close in the past, but resisted its touch upon him. He’s now prepared to move on to that next life and despite my love, dedication for my father, he will wind up just like my uncle and aunt. He is going to die.
When you’re young like the author of this piece, you don’t think about death often, but at times you do and it numbs you no matter how big and awesome you consider your human self to be. The only thing you can do is to be kind to the people you love, passionate with your hopes and dreams, and a willingness to not let anything stop you as you build the life you want to live. In accordance with past entries, use the freedom of your will to seek the best of the years we are allowed.
I’ll miss my uncle for his warmth, humor and just for who he was. That’s his legacy to me and well-deserved. Love you Russell from your ‘book-smart’ nephew.
The time: November 8, 2016
The place: a studio in Rockefeller Plaza, home of MSNBC studios
The story: The aftermath of the Presidential Election
MSNBC Election Night Anchorperson: If you’re just joining us, there’s been a stunning upset in the 2016 Presidential Election race. The forty fifth president of the United States is Republican…….he defeated Democratic challenger…….. with (electoral college and general election votes read). My panel on set is just as stunned, just as numb as I’m sure the nation is tonight. Any thoughts on what just happened? (Panelists have blank expressions on their faces, across the anchor desk)
Later in the program, a representative of the Democratic National Committee is on camera, waiting for the interview by host and panel. She calmly explains the night as it went on, how taken aback and shell shocked her party is by the ‘upset’ when they thought they had the election 'in the bag'. The anchor asks the rep a very important and troubling question.
Anchor: One reason why the election turned in the Republicans favor is the low percentage of African Americans voting in this general election this time around. Most people I’ve spoken with and had on my show were dismayed of the lack of issues surrounding Prison Reform, Economic availability, and a system that will punish cops if they are found guilty in the death of any African American young men and women. Now the DNC has spoken on this issue on Black Lives Matter in the past year, haven’t they?
It makes you wonder if the representative would take a sudden break from the bright lights and for once, speak the 'truth to power' of what really earned this embarrassing defeat……..
Representative: (struggling to find her words, blank expression on her face) To be honest, we were just as surprised and outraged that African Americans didn’t come out in huge numbers as they’ve had in the past. We only wound up with forty percent (40%) of the vote instead of the eighty-ninety percent(80-90%) we usually get. We made improvements to expand our base with Latinos, the LGBT community, and women. We worked so hard on focusing on those groups and their concerns, that we should have paid better attention to the most loyal members of our base were, and that’s African Americans. We should have gone into their communities to ensure them that Black Lives do matter, to stop the prison pipeline system, and to create better opportunities for economic empowerment. We didn’t do that when we had the chance and instead of talking down to them, treating them as they will vote for us no matter what, we didn’t earn their vote and lost to our rival party this evening.
Host: So will this mean the Democrats will work more closely with the African American community this time around?
Representative: We have a lot of work to do, starting tonight.
The evening goes on about the win for the Republicans and what it means for the rest of the country. The MSNBC hosts and anchors would reflect this is the sharpest defeat ever suffered by the Dems. ‘Scrambling’ is described what their party is going through at that moment.
To the progressive wing of the Democratic party; ignore the growing, seething, budding outrage of the African American population at your own peril. Failure to hear the concerns of many, to discuss the views with most, endangers your perfectly laid plans to continue the momentum you have now in the hopes you'll keep the White House in the next election cycle. Just simply marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, or even J.J. from Good Times without mentioning a solid track record on the advancement of a race sorely in need of a ‘victory’ is not enough. Any candidate who fails to recognize this righteous anger will lose, and deservedly so. This vote must be earned instead of given. Don’t wait until you get ‘spanked’ to finally receive that message.
In case the Democrats do not want to see this outcome next year, may the author of this piece offer a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth?
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
(Boldface: the author of this piece)