Media blackout: 2016 claims ANOTHER tragic life…

It’s the end of the year and everyone normally has magazine tributes to those celebrities lost. In just this last week, we’ve seen the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds — the last two of course being daughter and mother, very tragic. However, I want to offer a tribute to someone who won’t make any magazines and will probably be forgotten…but not by everyone.

Another young black life snuffed out, one that apparently didn’t really matter after all.

As reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, On March 17, 2012, 13-year-old Keoshia Ford was shot in the head during a shootout between two groups of gang members in Highland Park. An innocent bystander, she was playing outside near 2012 Bennett Avenue when the shooting started; the conflict spilled over from a large block party nearby. 

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When the bullets stilled, a neighbor rushed outside and found a young girl cradling Keoshia as her blood spilled onto the pavement. Her body was limp. Her smile gone. Keoshia survived, but she was comatose. She could no longer pose for the camera. She could no longer stand, sit, eat, move. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t smile. When she was released from the hospital, Keoshia needed a nurse’s care 24/7.

She slept in a hospital bed in her room, decorated with “get well soon” cards and Hello Kitty stickers. She sat in her wheelchair, gaze distant. Sometimes her eyelids fluttered or her foot would wiggle. Her life became regimented: the nurses followed a careful schedule as they changed her diapers, moved her body into different positions, changed her tracheal breathing tube. 

Keoshia’s mother, Lekeshia Matthews, held on to hope that her daughter would make a full recovery. She clung to every kick, every twitch, every little movement. “It’s been — oh my God, it’s been rough,” Matthews said. “It’s been a rough journey. When she got shot, the things she did, she couldn’t do anymore. She couldn’t walk, talk, couldn’t do anything for herself. It was hard to see your child suffer like that. If she was in pain, she couldn’t tell me, she couldn’t do anything.” 

Keoshia, who also went by the nickname KeKe, grew from a girl into a young woman in her hospital bed and in her wheelchair. She turned 14, 15, 16 and then 17. Each year, Matthews planned a birthday party and bought a new outfit for her daughter to celebrate the day. 

Earlier this year, Keoshia began to respond to voices. She could shake her head for yes or no, and she could squeeze her mother’s hand when prompted. She began to recognize Matthew’s voice, and the voices of her sisters. She didn’t know friends’ voices, unless they came by often. But during these last few months, Keoshia struggled with respiratory issues. She was in and out of the hospital.

Early Tuesday morning, about 5:30 a.m., she died. Matthews hasn’t made funeral plans yet. The county medical examiner will determine whether Keoshia died as a result of her shooting injuries, and if so, the district attorney will decide whether to bring a homicide charge against the accused shooter, a man who was 17 in 2012 and was sentenced to two years.”

The story of Keoshia Ford is playing out all too often across the inner city communities in the United States. Sadly her life appears to not matter, as there are no statements from Black Lives Matter. President Obama hasn’t said anything like Keoshia could have been his daughter…then again his daughters attend the prestigious Sidwell Friends school and have had 24/7 security and protection for quite some time.

Our home here in Dallas is in the vicinity of a very rough neighborhood, the intersection of Forest Lane and Audelia Road. There are times when gunshots are heard, sirens blare, and searchlight helicopters are overhead. Our little community is a tranquil island amidst this turmoil, so yes, I’m a dad that prays to never have to hold Aubrey or Austen in such a situation. But ask yourself, how could it be that someone guilty of stealing away the life of this little girl can only be sentenced to two years? I suppose the shooter was deemed a “victim,” or maybe as Barack Obama has defined it, he committed a non-violent crime.

Keoshia Ford will not be in any of the end of the year magazines. She wasn’t allowed to grow up and become a talented celebrity. She was relegated to being a part of a community where opportunity is evasive. Just think about it, Keoshia’s life is one of those who could have been better with education choice, a neighborhood with small business growth and entrepreneurship. She won’t be considered because her loss couldn’t be a part of a politicized movement. But this is why we need the restoration of law and order, better policing. 

Instead of magazines that have us remembering those who’ve lived a celebrated life of acclaim due to their talents, there should be a magazine that reminds us of all the kids who lost their lives to violence in their own communities. Kids who weren’t able to grow up and live an acclaimed life.

Folks wanna talk about social justice, then tell me, how can someone shoot a 13-year-old girl in the head and only serve a sentence of two years? And you can just imagine the legal defense that will try and say that Keoshia’s death had nothing to do with being shot in the head back in 2012. The fact that a county medical examiner has to determine if her death were a result of the shooting? Let me ask a simple question, what put her into the condition where she suffered the respiratory failure? And the district attorney has to decide whether to bring a homicide charge? The despicable cretin that shot Keoshia four years ago should be sitting in jail now awaiting further charges.

I pray we can break this cycle. Michelle Obama recently talked about a feeling of hopelessness in America…well, imagine what Lekeshia Matthews must be feeling right now. And yes, I did notice that Lekeshia and Keoshia have two different last names — and that’s another sad but telling tale about today’s black community where Keoshia was part of the near 73 percent who don’t have Mom and Dad in the home. May God take Keoshia into His arms and restore her to the little laughing girl she was. May she walk those streets of gold and praise our Lord and Savior knowing her suffering is over…Requiem en Pace dear little Keoshia. And all the children that were taken away from us too soon due to gang violence and criminality.

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