Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time Keeps on Slipping...Into the Future

Whoever starts a blog spends the rest of their time trying to find time to update it. But I am here now, cooling my heels in a library in the City of Orange, as I wait for something big to happen. Here are little chunks of my thoughts:

Errant Thought: Be among the first to enter to win the Brand Spanking New BMW 1 Series at the Angel City Classic on Sept. 27, 2008. Go to and click the banner ad to the left that asks, "Are You the 1?" While you are there, order your tickets so you can be there because you must be present to win. When you win, tell me so I can let folks know you heard it here first.

This week I have been at church almost every evening for Vacation Bible School. Pastor Norman Johnson at First New Christian seems to have extended the reins over there to let the young speak to young: His son, Norman Junior taught, as well as the son of State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sinclair Ridley-Thomas, who left this morning to return to Morehouse for football camp. On Sept. 27 Sinclair and his team Morehouse will be playing the game on the almighty Coliseum field for the Angel City Classic sponsored by Farmers Insurance Group. Can you imagine his excitement? Cool as a cucumber, you wouldn't even know he was a senior in college. He is just the epitome of cool as he counsels kids, folds and unfolds chairs and does the work of the church.

My son, Jaaye Person-Lynn, was the third young man tapped to teach and he has taken to this like fish to water. And this is how I came to be there everyday. Every night he teaches the audience has grown. Last night the young talked about being Young Gifted and Black. He invited Kenyon Ates to speak along with Sinclair and another young man and young woman. Everyone was so well spoken and had a lot on their minds. The classroom was packed. Tonight they talk about leadership.

Errant Thought: One day, in a few more blogs I will tell you why Jaaye doing this was so remarkable, but for now that will have to wait. Remind me, if I forget.

The thing is Pastor Johnson has been touched or something because his sermons have been so on point it is amazing. He was always a great teacher, but now, I can't explain it. He is on a mission.

One session I sat in on was for parents to read the writing on the wall. A trio of police officers (looked like the Mod Squad, lacking a woman) came and told us so much about gangs I'd never noticed. For example, most of us know that gangs like wearing sports caps. But if your child is all of a sudden clamoring for Houston Astros gear, beware. (They wear orange t-shirts to match--so it ain't always about the red and the blue). Your cherub may be one of the Hoover Crips. Don't believe me or the police? Just google the subject. I found these two articles and they aren't even talking about Los Angeles. Gangs are nationwide:

The largest gang (and it is international) is the 18th Street Gang, which is largely Latino. Even if you do not have children, you need to be aware because it could dictate where you move, how you dress and more. You may just happen to like the Astros, but beware.

Pastor Johnson said he wants the church to do something about this youth violence we are experiencing. He wants to reclaim the kids who feel they have no alternative to gang life. Jaaye sees them every day as his law career has him going into lockup every day. They act hard, but their lonely faces crumple up when they realize that they are looking at 25 to life when all they wanted was a little protection. Now nobody is coming to see them because since many of their homeboys have records, felons can't visit an inmate and if their families were broken before, they surely won't have family support once locked-up. It's too expensive even for the most well meaning family: collect calls, ordering food (yes, food...what they are rationed is not enough) and toiletries. The time and gas to drive hours into the desert to see them for a couple of hours alone is hard on the average human.

It makes sense to save them now. Like I always say, start with the one near you. That nephew that niece, the neighbor's kid or your own child can be an investment in your future, heck all of our futures.

One young man who was doing just that is Brandon Walker. Brandon headed up the Teen Clinic at T.H.E. Clinic, my former client. A robust guy, he acted in the plays to let the public know about AIDS and HIV and he was a creative graphic designer, designing the T-shirts for the annual summit which should be coming up next month. I said was because Brandon, who had been awaiting a kidney transplant, finally got that call. He was so ecstatic and emotional on his way to the hospital to get it, he thought all those years of struggling were over. But, his body rejected it, and he passed away a few days ago. He was in his late 20's and married, but now the world will never know what this young man was capable of. Rest in peace, Brandon.

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