Quiet Please

"...We cry out at as the famous for nothing live their train wreck lives or the ballplayer runs for daylight or the TV news tells us about this week's missing coed, but we fail to hear the quiet, painful sound of Tyronieshia trying to read.

Then a mammoth storm swallows an American city whole. And some of us cry out that liberals should not send help to a red state, or that God allowed the storm because New Orleans is too tolerant of homosexuals, or that this tragedy proves certain people are lazy and welfare-dependent. But we fail to hear Erica, who is 10, weeping because she saw babies die in the convention center's heat and stench.

We forget that children are in the room sometimes. We push our agendas and assign our blame and impose our narratives and forget that they are right there, taking it in. Yet, if some of them were failed by schools, community and family, all were failed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the mayor, the governor, the emergency management director and the president. And don't think they don't know.

Maybe you take that as the cue to circle your wagons of race or politics. Well, Erica, who saw babies die, sees an imperative beyond that. She drew a picture, a mosaic of faces in rainbow colors, combining into a single image. A single destiny. With a little one's gift for clarifying and purifying that which stymies and stupefies adults, she calls her drawing All In One.

And the prophet was right. A little child shall lead them."

Leonard J. Pitts

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