As I stood there a couple of nights ago on 123rd and Imperial in CLeveland, Ohio with hundreds of community members I felt a chill. I must admit that it was kind of chilly but this feeling that when it up my spine wasn’t the effect of the Cleveland wind. This feeling came about because of the stinch of death in the air, the tears and anger of community members as the number of bodies that were found continued to rise; 11 bodies. 11 bodies! I know that sounds horrific! Not just the number but the fact that to this man, community, and city officials these 11 women weren’t looked at as being more important than just bodies they were just beings taking up space. Some of these women were missing for years but because of their habits we didn’t take the complaints of their families as being legitimate. In case you don’t know 123rd is a black neighborhood. What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know, maybe nothing I just wanted to put everything in context. As the bodies were uncovered and identities were made known the family’s worst fear became a reality. As I stood out there that night disturbed women screamed in outrage, “Why are you all showing up now.” I pondered that question as I began to hold myself personally responsible. Why do we only show up when there is a tragedy? All around the country this is a fact. But in a city that has been ranked as being the most impoverished we didn’t need any more bad news. Young black boys are discouraged as the negative perception of black men continues to be enhanced as local and national media plaster this mass murderer’s name and face on the tube and paper. Young girls and women mourn these victims because it could’ve easily had been them. Not only were they victims of Anthony Sowell but they were also victims of their environment. An environment that led them to drinking and drug abuse and an environment that didn’t care enough to even ask and wonder about where they were. “A nation’s success and failure lies on how they treat their women.” Don’t get me wrong, I am disgusted with Anthony but I’m also upset with us. Maybe the upset women was right! We couldve prevented this! We couldve been more loving as a family and community, the system couldve done a better job in helping to rehabilitate these women who were crying out for love even if it came out the mouth of a stranger and in the form of malt liquor and drugs. We have failed these women and because of our failure they are no longer amongst us. They have been gone for a while now. But that night they spoke to me. Some spirits spoke to me that night and they said, “You have failed us but do not fail our babies. Do not let our death be in vain. Save our girls by loving them unconditionally so they will not go searching for love by any means necessary. Make our men feel wanted and appreciated so that their anger don’t cause them to become the next Anthony Sowell.” They screamed at me that night, “You all failed us but We beg you do not fail our babies.”
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