By Andrea Blackstone

This morning I consider an oxymoron at its finest. President Obama made his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, and last night, I witnessed a mother’s pain. The accomplishments that have been made by a man of color make me ponder why Kyle, a twenty-five-year-old black male, had to say goodbye. He was a new father, someone’s son, and a village helped to raise him to become a man.

My phone rang at approximately 11:30 pm. I’d already spoken to my cousin earlier. I found it strange that she called me back not even ten minutes later.

“Would you ride with me? My sorority sister’s son was killed,” she said.

She explained to whom she was referring. I remembered her from a cook out, during the 4rth of July weekend. An earthy, warm woman with an infectious smile stood out in my mind. She hugged me with a welcome, although I didn’t know any of my cousin’s friends. It made this reality feel so much uglier, and so much more unfair.

I scurried around my room grabbing keys and incidentals. I felt anxious, sad, and confused. Floored.

When we finally reached this young man’s mother, the door opened. My cousin called someone else to sit with her, until she arrived. He was seated on the far left with a quiet, yet strong presence.

An incense was burning. The room was still, until my cousin’s arms opened.

Tears flowed. They poured from her eyes and Kyle’s mother’s. The male friend began praying, calling on Jesus in a calming fashion. I sat in a chair across the room feeling like I knew Kyle, although I never met him. As I heard various sounds and words of someone’s mother in pain, my eyes grew glossy. My cousin just stood in the floor and held her friend for what seemed like an eternity.

“They killed Kyle. My only child,” she kept repeating.

My cousin consoled her with quiet words and warmth of a true friend. I dabbed my eyes wondering how things have come to this. Why are so many black mothers forced to endure unnecessary pain? A young black male, shot in the head in cold blood represents so many. Kyle’s mother ranted about how careful she’d been with him, and how she told him that he couldn’t go just any place, solely because he was a black male—a target of sorts. She guessed that he had a lot on his mind that day. After spending the weekend with his child, he took her to her mother, then stopped to clear his head in the park. He spoke of visiting her that weekend, but he ended up having visitation instead. This fact affirms that Kyle was a real father, too. It just doesn’t seem right to lose any of those. Forget stereotypes. Kyle wasn’t living a thug’s lifestyle; he was merely living his life in this world.

I was told that Kyle was known to be soft spoken and mild mannered. His mother placed a small stack of recent pictures in my hands. Instantly, I believed what was said about his personality. As I sipped on ice water, I felt honored to review snapshots of his life. A handsome young man who was adopted had been given a chance to live a better life, by a strong, loving woman. It was obvious that she loved Kyle, and Kyle loved her.

His mother’s college classmates rallied around her and took Kyle in. He was a part of the fold, being tutored, sitting in church pews with various families in a tight network, walking through various doors with a back pack and a smile for adopted aunts and adopted uncles. A village did raise him. So many members of that village will surely miss him.

When I reached pictures of Kyle’s beautiful daughter, my heart sank again. She will grow up without him. She only had him for a short time—an even shorter time than his mother.

“I’m okay. It’s going to be okay, everyone.” That’s what his mother kept telling us. “You all leave now. You have a long drive. I appreciate you coming. I appreciate you all so much. I’m not going to sleep. I’ll be up all night.”

We ignored her assuring words. No one moved. We knew and felt the truth. Her pain was layered, and it was just beginning. I sat on her couch, not in the position to say much. I was merely prepared to sit until the time to leave had come. In between fidgeting with the vacuum cleaner cord, talking about the cat she adopted, and trying to remain optimistic, I knew that she’d break down. She even held it together through a call to find out where his body would be transferred, and her other friend asking for information that would be needed for his obituary. Finally, she relented. Ironically, she works to help other mothers in similar standing. Now she has become one of them. What a cruel twist of fate.

When the last knock on the door came, we knew our time there had come to a close. Another mother had been through the very same pain. Her son was murdered too. We left knowing that she’d know what to say best. Kyle’s mother was in good hands. These women now share an unsettling bond.

I’ll be thinking of this mother all day, as well as beautiful little black boys who are robbed of life. Kyle’s mother is en route to another state to see about her child. Regardless of whom perpetrators are, I wish those who inflict violence on others could see and feel the after math. It’s ugly. It’s cold. It’s purely heartless and rooted in hatred, as far as I’m concerned. Black men have a legacy of descending from Nubian strength and power. So many have forgotten that. Complacency should have no place. The call for change is growing.

“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Not even the person’s mother who did this. I will never be the same again,” she commented.

I walked away from the experience feeling that everyone’s life has value, and everyone belongs to someone. When someone is slain, an entire village mourns that loss. Not only must we do what we can to invest in youth, but we also should remind them that a plethora of chaos is generated, because of one single violent act. Real life lessons are relevant for them and us. Peace be unto you, Kyle. Heaven gained yet one more angel, but you are gone too soon.

*The victim’s name has been changed to protect the mother’s privacy.

Written By Andrea Blackstone; All rights reserved. Copyright 2009.

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