Charles E. Richardson

I’m just asking, what about Jayvon?

I didn’t know Jayvon Sherman, the 16-year-old Central High student who was found murdered, apparently shot in the chest, while walking to school, making him Macon-Bibb County’s 22nd homicide victim this year.

I don’t know, as of this writing, exactly what happened, but at the vigil for Sherman, he was described as one of the “good kids,” a kid who was trying to do things the “right way.” Those were words of Central’s principal, Emanuel Frazier, who I do know. Knowing him and the heart of most educators, this is painful. It is impossible to protect each student 24/7, but knowing them, I know that would be their wish.

I feel a different sort of anguish. An empathetic throb. Jayvon was just a year younger than my grandson. I can’t imagine sending him off to school on a normal Thursday morning and getting a call telling me he’s been shot in the chest, clinging to life. I couldn’t begin to sort it all out. But when the fog cleared, the questions raised by Macon-Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones would also enter my mind, too. He asked, “Where is the outcry?”

Jones is frustrated, and he has every reason to be. He and his deputy coroners are the ones who have to pick up the bodies. They have to see what no decent human should have to see. They have to knock on doors and tell families that a loved one is never coming home. And they’ve had to fulfill that grim duty 22 times this year, and 21 of the victims, as has been the pattern, year after year after damning year, have been black.

Jones surmised that if the issue would have been about a monumnent or death by cop, people would have flocked to the streets. While I could personally care less about Confederate monuments, to rouse a crowd to march either for or against removing them doesn’t take much effort, but why a 16-year-old murdered can’t seem to draw the same outrage, baffles me.

If there were ever a sign the village is broken — this, yes this — should be it.

Please don’t get this twisted. I’m not saying those who want Confederate monuments moved or to remain shouldn’t do what’s in their hearts to push their agendas. I’m just asking, what about Jayvon?

I’m not saying those who demonstrate against police brutality shouldn’t march or kneel. I’m just asking, what about Jayvon?

It’s not that I don’t know what’s going on. It’s easier to protest when it’s perceived that what’s being done to you is by, “the man,” who has been historically, the villain. But who’s the villain when it comes to Jayvon and those like him? Anyone have a mirror?

It’s harder for the pastors and community activists to get people to the streets over Jayvon without pointing the finger of blame at the very community that birthed him. Jayvon becomes just another statistic, not just in the minds of the greater community, but also in the minds of his own community.

Trouble is, Jayvon’s not alone. There’s Teleshas and Andres and James and so many other others I could rattle off, just from this year, who died for absolutely nothing. There was no outcry for them, either.

We’ve seen it all this year, wives killing husbands, husbands killing wives, fathers killing daughters. All so senseless. There was a vigil for Jayvon. The Citizen Committee of Courage sponsored an “Alive and Buried” event yesterday to address violence in the community, but all too often, we’re one and done until next time. And next time will be soon.

We look to law enforcement, but what do we expect them to do? Most of the murders this year were not random acts of violence. Deputies aren’t clairvoyant. They can’t sense when two people have had too much to drink and decide to pull out a gun and start shooting, or are gang bangers who don’t like what side of the street a rival is on. They can’t tell when somebody’s life is going off the rails.

No, this village is not just broken. This village is sick. I’m just asking, what about Jayvon?