[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Don't Blame Us

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Don't Blame Us

Another Ana Menendez column which left me scratching my head was published in today's Herald. It's about the tragic death of an 18-month old, Zykarious Cadillon, who was murdered in the front yard of his Little River neighborhood by some unknown thugs. The story has gotten lots of media attention and a lot of indignance from the community at large.

Unfortunately, that's not enough for Menendez. She thinks we, all of us, should share in the blame for Zykarious' death.

Here's the column in its entirety, with emphasis mine.

We must all share the blame

By Ana Menendez

amenendez@herald.com

Even before he was born, Zykarious Cadillon faced a life that promised to be harder than most.

As the developing baby of a teen-aged mother, he was more likely to be born below a healthy weight. The chance that he would die as an infant was 50 percent higher than if his mother had been older than 20.

As the son of poverty, he risked a host of problems as he grew, including poor nutrition, impaired brain development and low achievement in school.

As a black child, his chance of dying before adulthood was twice as high as it is for white children.

And it's this final statistic that ended up defining the short life of Zykarious Cadillon.

On Sunday night, as he was playing in his front yard, someone pulled up to the house and murdered him. He was 18 months old.

Thursday, the house on Northwest 82nd Terrace in the Little River neighborhood seemed abandoned in haste. A single black flip flop lay near the front door. At the curb, candles and flowers were stacked next to a pile of stuffed animals. A teddy bear lay slumped over a tiny walker.

So far, no one has come forward with ideas about who killed Zykarious. The reward is now up to $2,000, but even among people as desperate for cash as they are for justice, the promise of either is not enough to overcome a more powerful constant.

SILENCE

A neighbor I spoke to said he wasn't home when the shooting happened. But even if he had seen anything, he wouldn't go to the police. ''I'm scared,'' said Louis Louissant.

It's possible to live an entire life in South Florida and never go into a neighborhood like the one where Zykarious did not finish growing up.

Out of sight, the poor remain out of heart and mind. The problems they face are assumed to be ones of their own making. And most of those who travel I-95 high above Miami's poverty can assure themselves that they have earned their cars and their suburban houses without considering that the rules of the game are set long before we're born.

In the past week, whispers of blame have extended to the family of the little boy and to neighbors who have not told what they know. The emphasis has been on ''conflicting information'' -- was the boy with his father or not? -- and on police frustration in trying to find the truth.

But blame is an untidy thing. Responsibility for Zykarious' unsolved murder starts with the family that failed to protect him and spreads to a neighborhood that remains silent, but it also eventually falls on us who have become numbed into indifference.

Violent crime among the poor barely qualifies as big news anymore. Even at this paper, his murder was confined to the local pages, the front page often reserved for more rare events such as sumo wrestlers and giant cruise ships.

The unintended message is that the story is so common as to have a limited audience. It's not insensitivity. The Miami Herald has run other crime stories on the front page -- most recently the murder of a young high school graduate, who also was black.

But in the paper's search for a good ''mix'' of stories, it often leaves the impression that crime, especially when it affects the poor, is less important. And that makes it too easy to segregate the outrage.

DEMAND FOR JUSTICE

Black community leaders should not be the only ones demanding justice for Zykarious. The problems faced by the poor, many of whom are black or Hispanic, are not all of their own making and not theirs alone to solve. The racism and economic inequalities that lead to injustice and despair are more than minority concerns.

A little boy is dead before his second birthday. It's natural to ask, ''How did they let this happen?'' A more honest society adds, ``How did we?''

We didn't let this happen, Ana. It's not our fault that little Zykarious was born into such a hostile environment. It's not our fault that many people in impoverished neighborhoods continue to make fatally bad choices in life and choose to blame others for their misfortune. Unfortunately, these people aren't helped one bit by columns such as the one above. For a second there, Menendez started to make sense, but then quickly layed the blame on all of us.

How dare you, Ana, when you sit there in your ivory tower and don't have a clue of what ordinary, law-abiding middle class citizens do or think?

How many of those people who zoom by that neighborhood on I-95 pay taxes which support programs to assist those in need? How many of those same people selflessly give their time and money to those people? Apparently, Ana knows the answer.

No thanks Ana, I absolutely refuse to share in the blame. Many of us do care and have given both time and money to help those who are disadvantaged, for whatever the reason.

Once, just once, I would love to read an article in any MSM publication by a staff columnist which places the blame squarely where it belongs. Actually, it happened just 2 days ago in the Miami Herald by none other than Leonard Pitts. I have disagreed with a ton of Pitts' columns, but on Friday, he was right on the money and he deserves credit for saying what needs to be said.

It's not about racism or indifference, despite what Menendez thinks. Those issues have been properly and rightfully addressed. If you want people to care more than they already do, they need to start seeing results. It's time to stop blaming society, move on, stand on your own two feet and make right decisions.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Rafael Serra said...

EV

I also suppose it was nobody's fault that so many little poor Black children had to go without clothes or shoes or food or an education or access to medical care in Cuba before 1959 except their parents for being poor and Black in the first place right?

42% illiteracy in rural Cuba was the average "BC" and the rate for Blacks was even worse but that was not anybody's fault, right?

Infant mortality rates and deaths from preventable diseases hundreds of miles and seemingly hundreds of years away from the glamorous and nostialgic Havana of 1958 and before. Of course, in fairness to the wretched sepia urchins living in the conveniently hidden slums of Havana that tourists at the Capri or the Hilton or the Riviera or residents in Miramar or Kohly or Vedado could easily pretend did not exist ... so easy, one can easily suppose, that those same pseudo Tetuonic Habaneros who revel in sanitized, Disneyesque apparitions of what Cuba never was at elitist conventions of nostalgia still pretend did not exist.

Martin Luther King wrote that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" on a roll of toilet paper he was lucky to get in a dirty Alabama jail and if you truly do not think that what happens to poor Black children in Little River, El Portal, Liberty City, Wynwood, Little Haiti, Richmond Heights, West Coconut Grove, Naranja, Overtown, Goulds, South Miami, and Florida City is a responsibility of yours then do not be mad at anyone else when a once-poor-Black-little-child torches your material happiness upon reaching poor-Black-bullet-proof-glass-ceiling-adulthood.

"Belly full but them hungry.
A hungry mob is an angry mob
A rain a fall but the dirt it tough
A pot a cook but the food no ’nough
A hungry mob is an angry mob"

- por Bob Marley

5:59 PM, May 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave your BS about Cuba out of this, it has nothing to do with it. What do you propose we do about poor Black children in Miami? Do you have any idea how many Millions of dollars have been invested into the Black community? And for what? Bill Cosby and Leonard Pitts Jr are right, the Black community has irresponsible leadership who can think of no better solution than blaming other people for their problems.

1:50 AM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Val Prieto said...

I am so tired of hearing about "our responsibility to the poor blacks of the poor hispanics or the poor rednecks."

Where the hell is their responsibility towards me? their responsibility to become an active, productive member of society?

Oh, and Rafael, since Cuba is such a Utopia now, why dont you move there? tell them you're a cuban living in Cuba and then try to rent a romm at some hotel.

Asshole.

7:51 AM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Rafael and Anonymous,

Why do you feel the urge to bring up Cuba in this post? Unless my eyes are deceiving me, Cuba wasn't mentioned ONCE. Nevertheless, thank you for providing our fair readers with your enlightened opinions on Cuba.

Now to the topic at hand, the common argument of those who blame all of society for the misfortunes of the poor invariably bring up the past. Why, and why is it even relevant. Yes, we must not forget history, but what good does it do to look back all the time and use it as an excuse? Why should the hard-working and giving taxpayers of TODAY be layed with the blame?

More importantly, what have YOU done to help their siutation other than by criticizing the viewpoint of those who feel that success comes from hard work and positive values, not from looking back at the failures of our ancestors and extending hands out for freebies all the time?

As far as solutions are concerned, I suggest you re-read the post, especially the last few paragraphs. They contain my solutions. And yes Rafael, Cosby and Pitts are right, I gave them full credit.

1:08 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous de La Escalera said...

Bill Cosby?

WTF??

What EXACTLY did Bill Cosby say that you guys are jumping up and down about as Gospel?

I want to see where Bill Cosby said anything that any of you can use to refute what Menendez wrote in her article.

While you're at it, show me where Cosby or even Pitts has ever written or said or mumbled what is contained in that quote from Dr. King.

Please!

I wonder if any of you would be "offended" by this column if it had been published before the writer had the audacity to call "Cubans" patronizing the Calle Ocho version of Disney World an exercise in pathetic make-believe....

5:53 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous de La Escalera said...

BTW

What do you mean, Robert, by the failure of our ancestors?

Whose ancestors and what failure are you referring to?

5:55 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Ladder Man,

Read Pitts' column which I linked in my post. Do a google search on Bill Cosby. Then, and only then, come back here and debate the points I have made.

Oh, and one more thing, don't bring up Cuba. It has no relevance in this particular post, OK?

Thanks.

7:16 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Evaristo Estenoz said...

Why does Cuba keep coming up in this discussion? It is obvious that Cuba does and will continue to come up in any and every discussion hosted on a blog that the following image in its mast head:

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3996/960/1600/cc_tower1.0.gif

So if anyone is introducing Cuba into this dicussion, it is the same person that imposes Cuba into every discussion.

Of course, I don't have to wonder why people like Robert don't want to get into a discussion on life in Cuba as I (and others) doubt Robert has ever been to Cuba so, naturally, how can he offer anything intelligent or credible about a place he has only heard about.

By the way Robert, if you have no clue what Bill Cosby really said, you can admit it. It is not like we're not accustomed to you talking out the side of your neck.

Of course, if you do have proof that he said what you et al are trying to imply he said, then please post a link.

In other words, put up or shut up.

Thank you and God bless.

12:00 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger mish said...

as a waitress, i saw upfront how black women are very outspoken. As a someone (white w/ well off parents) who tried to kill herself a year ago today i wonder if depression is just more prevelant in whites just as sickle cell is more prevalent in blacks. I often wonder how those with so little make it and am amazed and impressed. As for Anna, she usually writes columns that are a bit out there - funny and guaranteed to piss off a few people. As a cat lover, I even lauged when she said something about survival of the fittest when it came between a fat house cat and a python - of course she got tons of hate mail for that. I love all the sec B columnists but Anna is the most reactionary by far - i take what she says w/ a grain of salt.

12:42 PM, June 01, 2006  

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