Friday, April 14, 2006

Two years ago I went to my friend Otis's wedding reception. Two weeks later I went to the wake for his new wife Andrea's 18-year-old son, shot & killed on the streets of Oakland like so many other young black men & women.

Yesterday I spent 4 hours at the funeral of Otis's eldest son Robert, or RaRa, who had just turned 19 and was shot & killed on the streets of San Francisco.

I just spent an hour trying to write something for this blog that would articulate the complex & contradictory subtexts, theatrics, agendas & issues touched on during this latter funeral, something that would articulate the contradictory aspects of & perspectives on a young urban black man who was by all accounts extremely loving & loyal towards his large family, his community - and towards the young men with whom he allegedly participated in activities that most people in the community of those who might read this blog would consider anti-social, illegal, violent - but try as I might, I couldn't write what I wanted without being, in my opinion, too invasive of the privacy of all concerned.

So I just want to say that if you are ever in the unfortunate circumstance of being invited to the funeral of a young black man or woman killed by meaningless violence, I think you should go. Funerals like this that I've been to have been profoundly sad, extremely complicated, deeply expressive, and more informative than all the blogs, tv spots, books & magazine articles that you can possibly wade through. I am still depressed & heartsick today about this & I think it is important for me to be heartsick about it.

The black men/children whose faces I've looked down on in their coffins have been beautiful, smart, talented and very young. It's hard to find a way to say "such a tragic waste" without it sounding like a cliche. I just know I am very tired of having to go to funerals of young black men.

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