The Urban Grind




Rest in peace Darcside even thought I never knew you.

It was like stepping back in time.  I was transported back to day one at the south Chattanooga rec center. But this time I was in Bushtown at the Carver Rec.  Moving from the lobby couch into the multi-purpose room the kids looked at me like I was an alien - clearly recognizing me as a stranger to their hood.  One even asked if I was the police.  Heard that one before over a year ago.

Darcside got shot last night in Bushtown, a neighborhood I don't frequent.  I read it on Twitter and watched the new report.  Like many of the other gang-related shootings I was saddened to hear of another young black man being shot for flyin the wrong flag.  Following the reporting I was glad to hear it wasn't another drive-by in the southside.  Better Bushtown that Alton Park... Then I got a phone call.  The director of that rec center was reaching out for pastors to come and listen to the kids - friends, neighbors, acquaintances of Jordan Darcside.  To listen.  To encourage.  To be available.  I knew Don from his time at the South Chatt Rec so I told him I'd send an email out to some people I thought might be available.  Shortly after I got in my car to drive to Bushtown.

Almost all of the kids who go to the Carver after school knew Darcside. I knew Don called me just in case any of them needed to talk and the response I received was to be expected - a white man in a primarily black neighborhood trying to talk to kids about guns, gang violence and neighborhood trauma - who the f*** are you?  I spoke for a few minutes with another minister who I sort of knew.  It was like an odd dejavu standing in that sparsely decorated, vintage painted space.  I've never been here but I feel like I've been here before.  I don't know any of these kids, but I know all of them.  I am comfortably uncomfortable and agreaably awkward.  The words coming from my lips are familiar yet felt distant, the recollection of a recessed memory.

Similar to the original days holding down the spot at the South Chatt Rec I had no rapport, trust, or any kind of relationship at all. It was painfully obvious. Yet, I was reminded of how far we've come since those early days in Alton Park.  We have achieved some development of trust (still working on that one :-), a rapport, a small sense of credibility, unspoken respect and, hopefully, the ability to speak into situations of violent tragedy or painful loss.

I could see in their eyes that some wanted to talk.  Most were rightfully leary, while others were apathetic. On my way out one girl asked if I was leaving - I saw in her eyes that she wanted to say something, talk about what happened, ask a question, something...

Rest in peace Darcside.  Rest in peace memories of the past.  Thank you for the reminder.

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