Hadiya Pendleton was laid to rest today. You might have heard of her. She was a 15-year-old Chicago girl who marched in the Inaugural Parade and 8 days later was shot to death in the park while waiting out a storm.
If you’ve been reading this blog at all over the last couple of months, you know that I’ve talked about how gun violence has been talked about when talking about Newtown and how different (or non-existent) that talk becomes when talking about urban America. While I can’t change how the media discussion of gun violence, I can try to talk about some things I’ve learned while trying to be a minister.
My internship supervisor told me, as I was preparing for my first eulogy, that my main goal should be to try to impart the gospel of the deceased person’s life. I’ve been thinking about that bit of wisdom since I heard of the death of Hadiya Pendleton.
How do you talk about the “good news” of a 15-year-old’s life when the only reason she is dead is because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time? How do you talk about the fact that, more than likely, she was shot to death by someone who was near to her in age? How do you talk about the fact that this is an all-too frequent occurence in urban America? How do you talk about the fact that there are millions of parents, siblings, other relatives and friends who pray every time their partner/child/sibling/relative/friend walks out the door that they will come back unharmed?
How do you talk about the fact that losing someone senselessly is not just about them dying; that 1/3 of all black men and 1/6 of all Latino men are involved with the criminal justice system? That young black and Latino children are placed in special education at disproportionate rates? That one of the leading causes of death for young men of color is gun homicide?
Hadiya Pendleton is the latest casualty in the senseless throwing away of urban America (which is primarily people of color). How does one eulogize that?