By Zerline Hughes
I don’t usually react when I hear about a shooting or some sort of neighborhood violence. I mean, living where I live in a metropolis with a thriving “inner city” and statistics up the wazoo about robberies, stabbings, muggings and shootings, is unfortunately, a semi-regular occurrence. You know what they say: so many of us are desensitized to violence thanks to shows like “Law & Order” and movies like, dare I say it, “Saw.”
What have I done to combat the not-so-favorable-current events? Not watch the news, skip news site trolling, and skip Facebook and Twitter posts when I see a brazen headline.
That solves absolutely nothing, but it protects what’s left of my psyche, as I raise two independent kids in said inner city.
But last week, too many Facebook friends in D.C. were sharing and commenting on a story that was accompanied by the photo of a African-American woman with a unique and familiar name. Nonetheless, like I said, I skipped it. Twice. The third time … I realized the news was about a young woman whose emails still sit in my inbox as I write.
In fact, I just opened one message. What was just a regular old back and forth communication about a potential news story has now become more than just a story, but a connection. While re-reading our chain of emails, my body became warm and I fought back tears. Still, I didn’t know the young lady, but she was a journalist that I pitched twice in just 30 days. A neighbor. Someone’s daughter, friend …
Her name: Charnice Milton. 27 years old. She was a reporter for the Capital Community News publications. Cause of death: to be point blank, a lost soul used her as a human shield on the streets and she was forced to take a bullet not meant for her.
Should the young man aiming to protect himself be arrested? Yes. Should the shooter be arrested? Yes. But here comes the dichotomy: for how long? In my work, we talk about justice. We talk about what’s failing our young men and women. But we never seem to come up with a win-win solution.
These two fighting each other may well have been doing something elsewhere, more productive, say, if they were better served by our systems.
But today, I want to honor Ms. Milton. Our community will be doing so at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with a candlelight vigil outside of the Washington Seniors Wellness Center located at 3001 Alabama Ave. in southeast Washington, D.C.
We have got to do something to fix this. We must pronounce like I do every time I think about what could happen to my kids: “Not These Two!” and multiply that by all of our communities. This should not be happening. Not in our communities! Not in our world!