Saturday morning I got the call. I had one of those conversations that does not end happily, I ended it with a silent prayer as I hung up my phone.
That Saturday morning, a friend who I’ve known since probably the sixth grade and regarded as being “sweet as a teddy bear,” became another statistic.
He was added to a long list of black males killed by gun violence. Another senseless murder added to the record books for America. His death indicates an awful truth that needs to be eliminated.
In 2004, the Center for Disease Control reported that homicides were the leading cause of death for black men from ages 15 to 34. Homicides still continue to reign as one of the top reasons of death for young black men.
Year after year, the rise of violence has been increasingly apparent to me.
It’s more noticeable back home. I’m from a small Florida city called DeLand. It sits in between Daytona Beach and Orlando.
DeLand is a conservative, close-knit community where everyone knows everyone.
Growing up, I don’t recall hearing about shootings, let alone serious violent acts. I would hear of a random drug offense but hardly a homicide.
But each year, after I left to study journalism at FAMU, I would often receive phone calls about some violent act committed by someone I knew or learned many details of people I knew who became crime victims.
My mother would call me with a recap of all the violence in our area. It’s getting bad she would say. I would tell her it’s getting bad everywhere.
At least it’s getting bad for blacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting found that in 2006 over 50 percent of the nation’s homicide victims were black.
It’s abysmal that half of the murders in the United States were black and we only make up about 12 percent of the population.
While this is a typical occurrence in larger cities, for my small hometown this was like a blow to the head. I think we can all agree something needs to change.
As black leaders we must start being involved in our community. We especially need to be involved in Tallahassee, where gang activity has increased over the years.
As future baccalaureate holders, we are the leaders who could stop guns from reaching potential shooters.
And we are the face of prevention when it comes to the death of black young males. They deserve a future just like any other American male. Rest in peace Kenya.
A’sia Horne-Smith is a senior broadcast journalism student from DeLand, Fla. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org