Reflections on a year of tragic violence

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How to get away with murder!

One of my favorite TV programs this year is the hit show How to Get Away with Murder, the ABC drama series starring the talented Viola Davis. It’s incredible how art imitates life and life imitates art.

My social consciousness growing up as a child in Chicago during the turbulent ’60s and ’70s has been shaped by life and death: Medgar Evers, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Each one of them was murdered, and to this day I remember the effect it’s had on my level of trust in this country.

Each death grabbed me and sent my head spinning as a child while dreaming and trying to understand the message in each tragic loss. Being in the sports business, for me it’s always been about winning and losing.

But that’s all in the games that are played. Preparation, dedication, focus, and the bottom line in winning and losing places value in each game, win or lose.

2014 has been a year that’s been greatly shaped like no other year I can remember by social media and perception becoming reality: Michael Sam, Ray Rice, Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Roger Goodell, Los Angeles Clippers, Jameis Winston, LeBron James back to Cleveland, New Year’s Day Final Four, Alabama vs. Ohio State, Oregon vs. Florida State, and now the NFL playoffs are coming.

Many, many others sports stories and stars grabbed the headlines in 2014, but those that I’ve mentioned all have paled in the shadow of Eric Garner’s death, choked to death in New York by a White police officer while gasping, “I can’t breathe.” Then there was Michael Brown shot six times in Ferguson, Missouri by another White police officer while holding his hands up over his head.

Two weeks ago I was compelled to do something, and I did my radio programs live from Ferguson, Missouri.

Andrew Hawkins was shot to death while holding an air gun inside a Walmart Store. Tamir Rice, 12 years old, was killed by Cleveland police while holding a toy gun. Last week, two New York police officers were brutally shot to death in New York. Thousands of protesters have marched and held demonstrations in the aftermath across the United States because not one of these deaths has led to an indictment by a grand jury of the police.

We have reached a point today that has now crossed the level of being just disturbed by what is happening. I have not lost faith. I pray that the title of this column, “How to get away with murder,” allows us, through our faith, to grow as a people and find a way to withstand what clearly we can’t understand.