A Murder

My sister lives in Richmond. In 2003 according to  www.cityrating.com/crimestatistics.asp  there were 38 murders in the city of Richmond.  For Oakland there were 109 murders, for San Francisco there were 69, for Pleasant Hill there were 0 and for Tracy there were 2.  I realize that these are super old statistics; however for the benefit of this blog post I will just use them to illustrate a point.

Around 11 o’clock my phone rang 2 different times – each complete rings. I was downstairs and when I came up and looked at the phone, my first thought was I wonder what she wants and then my second thought was she never calls me this late, something must be wrong.  I called her back. She was crying, she was shaking, she was a mess! I went into calm mode and listened and spoke with love.  

My sister was doing laundry on Saturday night and she heard gunshots.  She said it was loud and she was afraid.  She ducked down in the laundry room, pulled another lady down who was doing laundry to the ground, and called 911. The agent instructed her to stay in the laundry room until the police arrived. She says she was shaking, she was frightened and she was praying.  When the police arrived, very shortly after the 911 call, they came and escorted her and the lady out of the laundry room and walked past the crime scene.  It was a young man in his early 20’s who had been shot while sitting in his car. My sister described it like it was in the movies, where the body is riddled with bullets and all of the windows of the car are broken and shattered.  This was in her apartment complex.  When she called me she was incoherent and could hardly breathe, the pain in her voice, the fear, the disbelief – all I could do was ask her to breathe and take her time.  She eventually was able to calm herself through my voice and her inner strength; the dialogue that she spoke to herself worked more than my words could ever have.

It got me to thinking about how casually murders are reported.  Close your eyes and remember the last time you heard the news. The teleprompter reader’s voice gets lower, a sadness comes over his or her face and they read that there was a murder at approximately such and such a time and the victim was in his early 20’s, late teens or mid-40’s, whatever the age, death is death.  The reader continues with an interview with the police officer on scene or a witness and then as quickly at this is out of their mouths; facial expressions change and the teleprompter reader now talks about the weather, the festival coming up, the latest happenings of Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen and the death as well as the sad expression are gone. 

People are murdered in real life and in television shows and in video games all day and everyday.   We are so desensitized to it that we don’t even give it a passing ear, as we go about the business of taking care of our duties for the day as the tv blares in the background. Our subconscious picks it up and stores it somewhere and then our conscious mind has to leave it stored so that we can go on to more “important things”.  However, we do this as adults with the full knowledge that there has been a transition of sorts in our mind and in order to remain healthy we have to compartmentalize the pain and the drama or else we will just lose it.  We do this constantly as adults.  What must it be like to be a child who does not have the benefit of aged knowledge that murder really should be something to fear? My sister was traumatized by this incident.  All of the adults in her apartment complex that heard the shots and then saw the body were traumatized. She said because it happened late at night, the body was not removed until the morning.  The dead young man was out there all night and no one came to mourn for him. Oh my.  Where were all of his homies then? Where was his mom or dad? I don’t know, perhaps they came and were told to leave so as not to contaminate the crime scene.  I don’t know the answer to that one. What I do know is that my sister has been affected by this incident. I am sure she relives this incident and yet she knows that it has passed and it will soon get better for her. 

There is a phrase not in my backyard (nimby) which indicates as long as it is not in my backyard I don’t really have to care about it. Well times have changed. There are indeed towns where murder is not a factor and that is a good thing; however murder is always possible even in those cities that can rely on low statistics . One murder is one too many. Murder of our children is an abomination and one that our leaders who take away funding should realize is going to get worse. What is a child to do when there is nothing to do? Most children invent games; hide and go seek, four square, and hopscotch are games of the past, now our children keep their heads crooked and their fingers poised either on the controller or the cell phone or the Ipod or the gun or the drug or the knife, never looking up to see what the person who reads the weather teleprompter is saying and that is it is going to be a great day for going outside and enjoying the sun.  Oh to go back to the time of our youths when hide and go seek and coming home when the street lights came on were really all we worried about.  For my sister, this too shall pass.

Yolande Barial
Your Words Project: Speaking on Purpose

Seeks to Enrich the Lives of Women through Spoken and Written Word.








“Through her inspirational writings and spiritual poetry, Yolande Barial empowers women of all ages to be on purpose.”