In the next few days, some tragic losses will be remembered. Some will not remember these losses until their social media reminds them. There are some events that I do not remember for whatever reasons. Then there are events that rocked me to the core of my being because of memories attached to them. Two such events is what I want to talk about now.
Tomorrow, April 19, will mark the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray. This is one of those events that I followed from his arrest, to his death, to the riots in Baltimore, and to the acquittals of the officers involved. I do not do that with all tragic or injust humanity stories. I can’t explain why I did with this one except to say that it reminded me so much of the Rodney King case (except Rodney King survived).
As the story of Freddie Gray was being shown day in and day out, something began to stir within me. It wasn’t hatred. It was disgust and concern for my bi-racial sons. My oldest was 11 at the time and he had already seen so much tragedy since he was 9 (he began watching the news at the age of 8 and was shook by the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings which happened when he was 9).
The story of Freddie Gray was not the first nor the last tragic unnecessary fatality. I remember watching as cities, with each of these tragedies that have occurred in recent history, began to burn with extreme hopelessness. Though I do not condone violence of these magnitudes, I do understand it. There are a multitude of individuals in this country (USA) and around the world that are made to feel less than human. The fact that someone does not or cannot understand that reality does not mean it is not happening.
As I was watching Baltimore be put to those flames of unrest and loss, I did not know what to do. I did the only two things I knew how to do; pray and draw. As I was praying and drawing over that entire week, this is what came out:
Every time I look at this drawing, I remember the loss of many and how hopelessness still exists in the world.
Freddie Gray (and all the others whose lives were cut too short by “powers” of the world) is not the only person that will be remembered this week.
On Friday, April 21, some of us will be remembering a great musician; Prince Rogers Nelson (better known as Prince). Some do not understand how or why celebrity deaths affect some of us so much. Here’s why (take it or leave it). Those celebrities that have passed and whose deaths affect some of us so much also affected (and sometimes even changed) our lives. Prince is one of those artists. It does not matter to me how he (and other celebrities who have passed and given me great memories) died. All that matters is we will no longer have the opportunity to see him play live. We will never again hear his thoughts on the current state of the world. We are grateful that he (and others) have shared almost every part of themselves with us.
This week, I choose to remember these souls. With that, I choose to teach my children that power means nothing if you don’t have compassion for your fellow man. I choose to join my voice, through prayer and all other gifts/talents given to me by my Father in Heaven, in saying: “No justice, no peace”. I truly feel sorry for those who cannot understand that. I choose to celebrate a man who, in my personal opinion, was a modern day prophet in his own right whether he knew it or not. One lyric from one of his most famous songs rings very loud and true to this day…”You say you want a leader but you can’t seem to make up your mind”.
What we don’t remember we tend to repeat and what we ignore we continue to endure. Let us remember these losses through prayer and by being compassion and love in one another’s lives. I know I am a work in progress and am thankful for each day I have to be better than I was the day before. Those that have passed do not have that opportunity anymore. This is why I choose to remember them. May they all truly rest in peace.
Alicia R. Shipe