On Friday, Monster, the company that was once behind Dr. Dre’s Beats by Dre headphones, announced that Disturbing the Peace co-founder Chaka Zulu would be joining the company as vice president of entertainment and sports marketing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The newly created position is all part of an effort to reinforce the company’s roots in today’s music culture.”
“Everyone at Monster is thrilled that Chaka is joining our team,” said Founder Noel Lee. “We share with him a strong passion for both music and technological innovation, and for helping people get closer to all the entertainment they love.”
All of the fanfare happened about one week after Zulu’s son, Amir T. Obafemi, 21, was fingered as the gunman who shot Morehouse College student Cornelius Savage on Feb. 1. Reportedly over a basketball game.
Because he was in jail for the shooting, Obafemi missed a court hearing on Feb. 6 where he was to plead guilty and have charges dropped for selling marijuana at Douglas County High School.
When the subject of violence and criminality in Black communities comes up it’s often attributed to poverty or a lack of resources or not having a father or positive male role model in the picture. You know, Black folks act up because they’re poor and didn’t have a father figure in their lives.
But this particular young Black man, who allegedly committed such a shameful crime of ignorance – just days before he was due in court to plead guilty to another shameful crime of ignorance – didn’t come from poverty and from what we can discern had his father in his life and plenty of resources.
So what happened?
Looking for a little guidance and possibly some perspective, I spoke with Erin Harper, a contract school psychologist who is months from finishing her Ph.D in school psychology at Georgia State.
“Even if his father is wealthy and has been involved in his life there remains a broad range of additional environmental, situational, and individual factors that could have contributed to this outcome,” said Harper. “You have to account for factors such as an individual’s personal stressors and exposure to violence, whether in the immediate family and community settings, or in society-at-large.”
Harper hasn’t spoken to or worked with Obafemi personally. But it’s not just him. It’s also not just young Black men who seem to be out shooting with no good reason.
Recently, I read the story of 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz who mistakenly drove up to the home of Phillip Sailors, a 69-year-old retiree living in Lilburn, around 10 p.m. believing it to be the home of a friend he was picking up to go ice skating.
Sailors reportedly came out of his home with a handgun, fired a round into the air and then pointed the gun at the car Diaz was driving and shot him to death.
Sailors, who is also a former Christian missionary and military veteran, shot first and never really bothered to ask questions.
“‘Shut up.’ That’s the only thing that came out of his mouth,” passenger Gandy Cardenas told WSB-TV.
The passengers said Sailors held the rest of the people in the car at gunpoint until police arrived at the home. All three passengers in the car are Parkview High School students.
While looking for the news report about Diaz, I found nearly a dozen different stories about people all over the country, of all ages, races and backgrounds, who were shot to death in driveways for seemingly no good reason.
First, there was the 71-year-old Lenoir, N.C. man who shot and killed his neighbor over a “dispute” about how they were going to use the driveway.
Then there was the story of a man killed in Port St. Lucie in an apparent drive-by shooting.
Then there was the story of a 36-year-old man in Laurel, Md., who was shot in his driveway in what may or may not have been a random act of violence.
That was followed by the story of a 34-year-old man in Euclid, Ohio, who was killed in his driveway, apparently in a burglary gone wrong.
The next story was about a 41-year-old Cleveland man who was fatally shot outside his home for a reason no one has even ventured to guess.
There were plenty of others. If you feel like losing faith in our collective sanity, feel free to search “man shot in driveway” yourself. There were more than 2.5 million results on Bing.
Moments like the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders and the Century 16 shooting in Aurora, Colo., grab headlines, but from where I sit the problem seems to be that Americans have completely lost respect for the value of human life.
I’m genuinely afraid that if we destroyed all the guns in the world and melted down every knife and other popular murder weapon in existence it would only lead to an increase of reports that one after another people were killing each other with rocks, sticks or their bare hands.
Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina said something in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that I thought was both brilliant and demoralizingly scary.
“We can talk all day long – we had an armed guard in Columbine, we had an assault ban, neither one of them worked,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We’re talking about preventing mass murder by nontraditional criminals, people who are not traditionally criminals, who are not wired right for some reason,” he continued. “I don’t know if there’s anything Lindsey Graham can do in the Senate to stop mass murder from somebody that’s hell bent on doing crazy things.”
Now that being in a movie theater, playing a game of basketball, pulling into the wrong driveway or even standing in your own can realistically lead to being shot to death, it’s become evident that these nontraditional criminals, hell bent on doing crazy things, are everywhere. And it doesn’t seem like there’s much Lindsey Graham or anyone else can do to stop them.