11-21-2017  6:02 am      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

Multnomah County Animal Services Waives Adoption Fees Nov. 17

Special runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday ...

Fitzpatrick Presents 'Pathway 1000' Plan Before City Council

Plan would restore involuntary displacement by building 80 homes per year ...

Sisters Network to Hold Monthly Meeting Nov. 11

Meeting to take place Saturday morning at June Key Delta Center ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

By Lz Granderson

My son, barely a few moments old, is crying. I walk toward the medical room bassinette where he is lying, smile, and then tell him not to worry... daddy's here. And then ever so gently I place his tidy hand inside mine and again tell him daddy's here... I will keep you safe.He stops crying.

I start.

And thus began a parent and child relationship that is probably no different than the billions that came before that night and the billions in the 16 years after. Of all the natural instincts that enslave my body, the desire to love and protect my son is a master I have never rebelled against. And I am sure many of you can agree: Being a parent can be both a person's greatest joy and greatest sense of anxiety.

"I will keep you safe," is what we tell them.

And then something like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary happens, or the shooting at the mall in Oregon, or the movie theater in Aurora, and you are reminded of how increasingly difficult it is to do just that.

There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine in 1999, and sadly there is not a damn thing to suggest there won't be 31 more.

In my 20 years of journalism, I have had quite a few conversations with mourning mothers and fathers who have had to bury their children. Last year I interviewed a father who dropped his son off at football practice and never saw him alive again -- taken by an undiagnosed heart ailment. I cried for hours afterward. I'm sure that father still cries on occasion today.

But something different grips your soul when you know the cause of a child's premature death was not brought on by ill health or an accident, but rather an outbreak of senseless violence that took place somewhere we once viewed as safe -- like an elementary school. Or as we saw late this summer in Wisconsin, a place of worship.

We hurt and weep for the victims while fighting off a chilling fear that the same thing can happen to us. I can take my son to the doctor to have his heart checked out, but how do I or any of us drop our children off at school on Monday and not be worried?

Scared?

Some of us who choose to live in small cities or nice neighborhoods used to be able to cloak ourselves with the comfort of "it can't happen here." But in this new America, it can.

It has.

Newton, Connecticut, is far from the mean streets of New York City.

There are fewer than 28,000 people there.

And it happened.

What are parents supposed to do? "I will keep you safe" is so much harder today, and at times I feel as if I'm running out of places to hide. Do I keep him away from the movie theater? The mall? School? Tragedies like these usually reignite discussions surrounding gun laws, but those talks and possible changes do nothing to ease the fear millions of parents are dealing with right now.

In the summer of 2011, a man drove through the heart of my mid-size city's downtown and randomly sprayed the streets with bullets -- striking innocent bystanders before speeding down the street and eventually killing himself. What am I supposed to do, not let my son go to the library that's down there?

"I will keep you safe" is my promise to him, and there are days in which I feel as if this new America is determined to make keeping that promise as hard as possible.

 

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

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