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I never had the chance to meet Marquise Anderson, but he was my cousin. He died Aug. 26 as a result of a gunshot wound.
I think we’ve gotten lost in the vitriol of cable news commentators, social media snippets and trolls who entertain themselves by riling the general public. We’ve busied ourselves trying to state our reasons for believing that black lives or blue lives or all lives matter. I’ve grown weary of the hateful comments and name-calling that leave us further apart instead of working together to find solutions.
Here’s what I know for certain: Marquise mattered.
Marquise mattered to his parents, his grandparents and his children. He mattered to my cousins, one of whom said she barely made it through the work day after hearing the news. Several times during the day, she had to stop and weep. I mourn the missed opportunity of getting to know him and develop a relationship.
He didn’t deserve to die this way. No one does.
There is a pervasive disregard for human life that transcends movements, think pieces and yes, thoughts and prayers that lack power. Whether the perpetrators wear trenchcoats, gang colors or blue uniforms, the disregard is the same.
It’s hit our streets. And I know the answer for many people is to leave town, but this disregard is already in that town or city, too. It has beaten you to your destination. Leaving is not the answer.
We need to uplift the folks who are out here doing the work to let people know they matter before they become a victim or perpetrator of violence. We need to support their sports teams, camps, afterschool programs, field trips and outreach programs. They need us — our time, our money and our hearts. They are making a difference. The people they help just don’t get as much attention as the ones who perish.
I love this town, and I refuse to be afraid of cowards with guns who have no respect for life, including their own. I stand with the pastors, youth council directors, 4-H and scout leaders, law enforcement officers, teachers and parents who come face to face with the principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness every single day. They are the embodiment of faith at work.
It is time for us to join them. It is time for us to use our gifts and talents to better our community. Just like Marquise, Redmond and Elliot, you matter.
LaMonique Hamilton Barnes is a reporter and copy editor for The Wilson Times. She blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.