If your life is a mess; don’t have children

What kind of people starve a child to death, burn her body and dump her remains in the trash? Emani Moss was a beautiful 10-year-old girl who lived in Gwinnett County, Ga. with her father and stepmother. Now Emani is dead and her father Eman Moss and stepmother, Tiffany Moss, have been charged with her murder.

Robin Moss, Emani’s paternal grandmother, told reporters this week that she begged authorities not to return Emani to her father and stepmother’s home. Tiffany Moss was convicted of child cruelty a few years ago for abusing the girl. Officials hoped that conviction, along with parenting and anger management classes would help the parents do right by their child.

Robin Moss said she wanted to care for the granddaughter she feared was being neglected and abused. Two other children lived in that same home.

Authorities believe the child died of starvation a few days before her remains were discovered last week.

Nearly a month ago, 12-year-old Eric Forbes of Paulding County, Ga. was found unconscious in a bathtub. His father, Shayaa Yusef Forbes, called 911 and claimed his child had accidentally drowned in the bathtub. But after signs of severe abuse were found on Eric’s body, Forbes was arrested for murder.

For most parents, hurting their own children is unthinkable. But thousands of children are neglected, abused or murdered by their parents or insignificant others who have access to the children.

Crimes against children happen so frequently they have become almost routine. We call ourselves a civilized society yet our children are far more likely to be murdered by people they know than by strangers. The most vulnerable children live in homes where they are exposed to deranged, addictive or dangerous people. A two-year-old left with a live-in boyfriend is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. A child comes to school with red marks caused by a beating. A baby is brought to the emergency room with an unexplained fractured skull.

Let’s face it: if your life is a mess, you are going to attract people whose lives mirror yours. Drug addicts hang out with other junkies. People who drink themselves silly, generally pal around with friends who do the same.

People in this condition shouldn’t think about having children. Unfortunately, they are incapable of thinking about anyone other than themselves. And many don’t have the good sense to take their children to someone who will look after them properly until they can. Instead they are living in a state of deep denial and children are dying as a result.

Expose broken people to your children, and your children will suffer.

Emani Moss, a sweet-faced little girl with pigtails, died too soon because the people who were supposed to love her starved her to death and tried to cover it up by tossing her burned remains in the trash.

Eric Forbes, a handsome middle-schooler who liked to play football, had severe bruises and bite marks on his lifeless body.

No children deserve this fate.

He lied, cheated and helped bankrupt a great city

kwame-kilpatrick.jpg2

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick — the self-proclaimed “hip-hop mayor” and the son of a former Congresswoman —  was sentenced today to 28 years in federal prison for running a criminal enterprise that cost taxpayers at least $20 million.

Kilpatrick, 43, was apologetic and remorseful in court today. He admitted to hurting his wife, three sons and the city of Detroit. The pleas of his attorney for a lighter sentence didn’t sway the judge. Kilpatrick was convicted earlier this year of steering city work to his friend, Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson and dozens of others. In all, 34 public officials and private citizens were convicted in the corruption scandal. Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was one of them.

Before his sentencing, Kilpatrick said he shouldn’t have “blurred the lines” with Ferguson but claimed he never knowingly hurt the city of Detroit. Blurred the lines? Really Kwame? Do you expect people to believe you didn’t know exactly what you were doing and who you were trying to help? Yes, politicians and businessmen have been scratching each others’ backs since the beginning of time, but that doesn’t make the practice right. And if anyone is going to get caught it will be a young, confident black man who lives lavishly, parties with prostitutes and pretty much dares anyone to challenge him.

Kilpatrick has already served time for perjury. He lied about an affair with his chief of staff and tried to pay off a police official who knew about it. That resulted in a whistle blower lawsuit that cost the city dearly. When their text messages, exchanged on city-issued cell phones, were revealed, the mayor was busted. He blamed the media and his enemies — everyone but the man in the mirror.

My time in Detroit was brief — I lived and worked there for a year. In that time, I met some of the strongest, friendliest people I’ve met anywhere. Many were southern transplants like myself who made the trek decades ago when automotive jobs were abundant. Several of my relatives were among them and still live in the city and its surrounding suburbs. Detroit is a proud city. It is also a crumbling one.

 The city is in bankruptcy court, the result of years of bad decisions by public officials and a declining tax base. Its school system is in shambles. If you’re curious to learn more about how the city got to this place, go to freep.com, the website of my former employer, The Detroit Free Press.

One of the newspaper’s most powerful pieces outlines the decisions made by Kilpatrick and other Detroit mayors which put the city in this spot. Even more harmful than Kilpatrick’s corrupt dealings, was his decision to borrow $1.4 billion to restructure the city’s pension debt, a move Wall Street investors hailed as a good one at the time.

The people hurt most by Kilpatrick and his cronies are the people of Detroit and the former mayor’s family. The judge was kind of enough to allow him to serve his time in a federal prison in Texas, so he can be near his wife and sons. Kilpatrick talked about his sons today when he spoke to the court about starting his career as a teacher so he could help young people. When he enters prison, his sons would join the number of young black boys growing up without their father, he said. Too bad he didn’t think about that before he was consumed by power and greed.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Kwame Kilpatrick is America’s latest poster child.

Video confession: “I killed a man”

People use social media to make all sorts of statements; many mundane and some shocking. So I shouldn’t have been taken aback to see a man, his face and voice electronically distorted, confess to hitting and killing a man while driving drunk.

Matthew Cordle’s professionally produced video hit me in a way I didn’t expect. Drinking excessively and getting behind a wheel of a car destroys families. It should never be done. There have been times when I wanted to call the police to report a bartender who continued to serve someone who was clearly drunk.

Ultimately, the responsibility of driving while drunk is that of the person who commits this crime. In a YouTube video, Cordle, 22, confesses to killing 61-year-old Vincent Canzani.

We eventually see Cordle’s face clearly and hear his real voice. We see scars on his arms. He says he will take full responsibility for everything he’s done.

The Ohio man says he consulted a lawyer after the crash who told him he could get his blood alcohol test thrown out if he was willing to lie about what happened. No, Cordle reportedly said, “This video will act as my confession.”

I still have a lot of questions about what Cordle did and why he decided to confess in this manner on Sept. 3, 2013 for a crash that happened on June 22, 2013. Did he leave the scene of the accident? Could his victim have been saved?

And what about the family of Vincent Canzani? He was a Navy submarine veteran with two daughters, according to the The Columbus Dispatch newspaper.

Cordle made another interesting move: he reached out to the founders of a web site called becauseisaidiwould.com. The web site is a social movement where people post promises and talk about how they kept them. The young man who founded the site did so as a tribute to his father, who was always kept his word. It too, is a powerful statement.

Many people will say Cordle exhibited courage by posting this video. Others will say he is an irresponsible coward for drinking and driving and waiting more than two months to confess.

For now, I will reserve judgment on that question. Regardless of what you think of Cordle, the video is a powerful message against drinking and driving.

See for yourself.

How we can harness the hurt

For many of us, Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman was personal.

In Trayvon, we saw our sons, grandsons, nephews and cousins. In a 17-year-old boy walking home with a bag of candy and a drink, we saw our hopes and dreams. In Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s baby boy, we saw our present and our future.

The jury has issued its verdict. George Zimmerman is free. So too, is Trayvon. God’s will be done; for he is the ultimate judge and jury.

Here’s a question for the rest of us: How do we harness the hurt and anger we feel? How do we turn a tragedy into a triumph?

We can hold our sons close and help them understand that their lives matter. We can insist they stand for justice even when doing so seems next to impossible. We can show the talking heads that when violence darkens our door we can stand in peace.

We can help more of our young men graduate from high school and college. We can teach them that drugs, guns and gangs are not the way. That their grandparents and great-grandparents were beaten and jailed for the freedoms we now enjoy. We can be there for them when society puts them in a box based on their age and race.

We can teach our young men that the content of their character is what matters most.

We can fight racism and racial profiling whenever and wherever we see it.

We can create more jobs. We can mentor a wayward child.

We can love one another. We can pray for peace and healing for Trayvon’s family; and for Zimmerman and his family.

We can remember Trayvon Benjamin Martin and what his death has come to symbolize in “post racial” America.

We can vote for people and laws that are fair and just.

We can breathe again and go on.