Robinson High School, as we all know too well, was rocked again recently by the murder of a student, freshman John Simmons, and a recent alumnus, Vanderbilt football player Kwane Doster. Two young men with much promise cut down before realizing their potential. In their tragic wakes were the familiar refrains of “senseless killing” and “wrong place at the wrong time.”
All too true. And yet there’s another, largely unstated factor, which won’t be listed on any coroner’s report: death by black sub-culture. That is an urban black sub-culture that is too accepting of attitudes and lifestyles fundamentally incompatible with safe passage through adolescence. Would that misogynistic, thuggish behaviors were limited to BET videos.
In the case of Simmons, who was 15, he was murdered by a 17-year-old at an after-hours street party, where “trash-talk”-induced confrontations had been known to occur regularly. Simmons was shot about 2 a.m.
Why a 15-year-old was out at 2 a.m. and why a 17-year-old needed to be armed for a block party are not rhetorical questions. In fact, to not ask them smacks of racism.
As for Doster, a 21-year-old junior at Vanderbilt, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time at the wrong end of escalating “trash talk.” So-called “trash talk” is an in-your-face insult-a-thon popularized by black athletes — and excused and even exploited by the media. It’s hip-hopped, macho madness expressed as end-game rhetoric that’s not looking to take prisoners.
And when the combatants are armed with more than words, it will take a life.