Editor’s Note: Our community should be reeling, but it isn’t – at least not as much as it should be. Time and again we find ourselves waking to the news of another death – a shooting. Our paths crossed with Crystalyn, the author of this piece, just weeks before she took to the streets against violence in our city – particularly that of west Shreveport in black communities often glossed over by citizens and local media alike. We often think of violence as something we read about on national news – a school shooting, a rampage, but it isn’t always like that. Shreveport has seen more violence of late, just not in communities that many Shreveporters care about, and it’s time to take notice. It’s time to join a rising chorus of voices yearning for a better future for Shreveport, its sons, and daughters.
Blood staining blistering Shreveport blocks is nothing new. This strange stream being commonplace, though, is something that citizens can no longer tolerate. Honestly, it’s not so much the frequency of events as it is the demographic of the victims. Just this month, Shreveport has lost multiple lives due to gun violence and all were under 40 years of age. Children left without fathers. Sisters left without brothers. Mothers left without sons. This epidemic plaguing our municipality has gone too long without visible combat. We’ve all become complacent with sitting in our living rooms, shaking our head in disapproval and sleeping soundly as the reaper decided to not usurp his grimness upon our family.
However, if we just go a few miles from our home, or a few streets over, or perhaps just next door, we’d find a family riddled with undue grief in the wake of another homicide. My efforts are for my fellow Shreveportians who have been devastated by gun violence just as I have. I’ve had to bury two loved ones. Two too many.
What am I doing to combat? Aside from my profession of teaching high school students and earnestly sowing positivity, I have decided to take my cries to the streets. I choose high traffic intersections in areas that have been the final frontier for far too many young men. It began when I simply decided to be a visible presence to a random group of people who were leaving “The Scene,” a weekly event held at Stoner Hill Park. There was so much positive feedback that I decided to make this an effort for the rest of the week. I had no desire for this “movement” to be such a big deal to so many people.
Deaveon Benjamin and Phillip Sanders are two men that met me through Facebook and wanted to get involved. They’ve helped to bring in a whole new wave of supporters, and I’m very thankful to them. The presence of men is vital.
While my efforts have accrued hundreds of shares, likes, and comments on social media and I’ve earned the support of many, I still see this as just a meager effort for a massive issue. I don’t hold the finite. I don’t believe that there is one, sometimes. What I do hold is a relentless desire to see our communities become the safe places citizens deserve to live in and our citizens become more mindful of their irrevocable decisions before they are committed.
Make your sign. Pick your intersection. Make a difference.