January 8, 2017
Today is my brother Norman birthday.
Today he turned 41 years old.
What a great feeling for a young, black male to reach the age of 41 in today’s world.
And he was not one of the fortunate young, black men to see 41 years of age.
He became a statistic.
Either jail or dead was the statistic for black men, and he became one, so this day he will never see.
On August 31st of 1997, I was watching the crash that was on every TV channel, the breaking news of Princess Diana 2 and her companion Dodi Fayed who all died including the driver with my son on top of me sleep when I hear my mother’s scream.
I remember going into the room to see what was the matter and once I knew, I slowly walked out in utter shock and returned to the sofa and back watching the breaking news story of Princess Diana as the tears rolled down my face3.
I was hurt and shocked but not surprised.
The saying “you live by the sword, you die by the sword” really states the obvious.
My stepbrother was no saint4.
He spent most of his time on earth committing crimes that got him in and out of juvenile detention centers that housed juvenile delinquents from 6 months up until you turned 18 years old. It was all up to you. If you continued the bad behavior that got you there in the first place, your time is extended and extended up until the judge decides you are reformed and most don’t get out until they are 18 years old.
I met my stepbrother Norman Lewis James for the first time outside of the juvenile detention walls around 1991.
He and I both were about 15 years old.
Of course when he gets out, he will be in and out of trouble from that time until his demise in 1997, but we love and still miss him, and the only news you will see on him is in the local newspaper that I have dropped in footnotes 3 and 4.
All the negative things that can be said about him is written in the local paper.
No positive comment about his father being a pastor and his stepmother an Evangelist.
Just noting his criminal record which you will see in the article so that no one will feel sorry for him and maybe so people will think that my stepbrother got just what he deserved.
Sorta like the same thing that the media did in the Trayvon Martin case.
They paint a ‘black’ picture because that sells new papers and boost ratings.
Poor little black kid who grew up in the ghetto and turned to crime to get out.
The owner of the store shot my stepbrother three times in the upper part of his body and with his last breath, he ran out of the store and collapsed and died right in the parking lot.
A lonely, sad death that so many black youth today have suffered.
I had had my second child in January of 1997, and we buried my stepbrother….a cousin, a nephew, a brother, a son and a father in September 1997 at the age of 21.
I don’t remember the funeral at all.
Just the sadness of the day.
I never watched news again after that day.
I set in my mind on that day of August 31st 1997; that the news only brings us dismay and sadness.
No one ever tells the real reason why people turn to crime or begging on the streets.
They never say that the one mistake that cost you your freedom will forever keep you from gaining beneficial employment unless you educate yourself and get around the working system that has condemned you right after the court system did.
I don’t justify crime.
My stepbrother did have a long record, and it caught up with him, but it still doesn’t ease the pain of losing him.
We are left in pain and wondering why he is gone so soon and every January 8th of each year as it pass and every 31st of August when they highly publicize the day Princess Diana died, me and my family will remember our loved one and hurt and hurt all over again.
But it is also a reminder that our lives are not our own and that we are here one day and gone the next….young or old.