Regarding the death of Charles "Mista Dee" Smith:
Luke 15:3-4 reads:
"Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"
Although all the facts have not been unearthed in the Charles Smith, “Mista Dee” matter, one thing is certain, the much anticipated video proved to raise more questions that it provided answers.
Yet, Mr. Smith’s death has united clergy, community activists, civic leaders and the West Savannah community in seeking answers as to how he died. While they all seek justice, there have also been expressions of outrage.
Yet, we seem selective in our outrage.
Three things are certain in Savannah during the summer months, humidity, sweltering heat, and an uptick in crime and this summer proved no different.
From July 5, 2014 to August 5, 2014 Savannah Police say that 24 people were shot in 21 incidents and of that number police speculate that 3 were self-inflicted; yet there was no outrage, no protest -- nothing but the deafening sounds of the crickets.
In 2011 Savannah recorded 31 homicides, in 2012 we recorded 26 homicides, and in 2013 there were 31 homicides. Where was the outrage?
Is the outrage lost because most of the murders in Savannah take place in poverty stricken neighborhoods?
Is the outrage lost because these killings are among and between persons defined as “criminals” or persons defined as engaged in “criminal activity”?
Is the outrage lost because these crimes are among persons who are poor, uneducated, disenfranchised or marginalized because of their status?
A people who are cast aside without a thought and written off as if they never existed, are these same persons not, sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, nephews, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts and nieces? Where is the outrage?
Every day, I see young men standing on the street corners of the underserved sections of our city, sagging pants, cell phone in hand, walking with nowhere to go, nothing to do, no training, and no strategy.
Some refuse to use education or opportunity to get out of the cycle and out of the life and with no signs of prosperity in sight they turn off and turn up a blunt or their favorite rap songs, reciting them as they walk with hand gestures moving wildly.
Some have no clue, while others are frustrated and impoverished; some that resulted from poor choices and actions while others were simply born into a cycle that showed them nothing but disdain.
Rebels without a cause, there are no protests for them and no outrage their injustices. These are the lost sheep of our community.
We have been given a rare opportunity but can we seize upon this moment. Many in our underserved neighborhoods believe they have no voice and now there is a direct line of communication with city leaders and their needs can longer be dismissed or overlooked.
We should be outraged that nearly 26% of our citizenry live in poverty and I submit that there is another 26% that live near poverty.
The current protest should bring about a sense of urgency among city leaders, clergy, and activists who, while seeking answers to Mista Dee’s death should also seek answers as to how this city can increase the opportunities for the Mista Dee’s of our community who want a way out of the life.
There should be a demand for change and outrage over the fact that it hasn’t occurred.
Some of the lost sheep are too ashamed to admit that they can’t read or pass a test bitter and angry, yet they are capable of learning a trade. Although, they may not be able to obtain a contractor or electrician license, they can be trained to perform the equivalent tasks. They can be trained as a plumber assistant, brick mason, in automotive or computer repair, just to name a few.
I am an African-American and I feel the pain when I see a generation lost. I leave this with you, Dr. King said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. It is an injustice for us to forsake our lost sheep.