Dying Young, Violently and Black

I have posted twice on the death of professional football player Sean Taylor. But I feel compelled to discuss it once again, from a slightly different perspective.

One of my favorite columnists Michael Wilbon is being lambasted in the blogosphere for his column titled “Dying Young, Black”. His colleague at the Washington Post, Leonard Shapiro is getting his share also for “Taylor’s Death Is Tragic but Not Surprising”.

Both Wilbon and Shapiro are my age, in fact Wilbon and I were college chums. While these two “old school” journalists’ columns may have been tactless and untimely, they are clear expressions of the frustration so many of us “old school” folks feel.

We find ourselves in a time when young men, especially young black men, glorify and glamorize violence. They “embrace it, claim it, and refuse to divorce themselves from it,” regardless of their success or new circumstances. It appears throughout our culture via music, TV and language, and manifests itself in real lives and deaths:

Black Americans accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2005 but were the victims of about 15 percent of all of the nonfatal violent crime and about 49 percent of all homicides, according too the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Blacks were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault) and of about 8,000 homicides during 2005.

When I learned that Taylor had been shot and critically wounded, I discussed it with my 14 year old who is a big fan, then offered and posted a prayer for Taylor and his family. As I watched the coverage after his death I heard quotes like, “A ridiculous and unnecessary tragedy” and “This is the worst imaginable tragedy,”

All true, but what about…

  • 240 homicides in Miami-Dade County last year, 46 of whom were teenagers or younger
  • 170 killings in the District of Columbia in 2007
  • a 102 per 100,000 Population Homicide Rate for Black Males 18-24 (by comparison, it is 12.2 for white males of the same age)

All of those statistics are some mother’s child. While I am sure the outpouring of grief and shock in response to Taylor’s death is heartfelt and sincere, I am also confident that were it not for his prowess on the football field, Taylor’s passing would probably have been just another head counted in the growing tally of dead young black men.

Prayer for Sean Taylor and Family After His Passing

Heavenly Father, Comforter and Protector, I come asking You to watch over Sean Taylor. Please take the soul of this young man into Your arms, comfort him and welcome him home, into Your eternal kingdom.

Lord, I ask that You touch his family, friends and fans. Grant them the graces necessary to shoulder this cross. Although it appears to be the darkest of times, let them realize Your Light of Love shines upon them and that Your children grieve with them and pray for them.

In Jesus name,


Following is the post from the evening of November 26, 2007, as we all prayed and waited for God’s will.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope

~~ Romans 15:13

Dear Heavenly Father, full of grace and love, I come to ask your comfort for Sean Taylor and his family of relatives, friends and fans.

Thank You Father for your mercy and healing power. If it is your will, heal our brother, bless his soul and lead him to be the person that you have made him to be.

Thank You Father, that through Your Son Jesus there is a place prepared for all of Your children. If it is Your will to bring our brother home, take away the fear in his heart; let him find peace in Your grace, comfort in Your love, and strength in Your mighty power over death.

The family, friends and fans of Sean are of heavy hearts because of the tragedy that has befell Sean.

Thank You Father, that because of Jesus, You know our pain and sorrow intimately, as well as the path through this dark shadow. May we lay our fears at your feet. As it says in Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Thank you Father, for the comfort found in Your presence. Send us Your peace Lord; the peace that passes all understanding. Don’t let us waiver and doubt. As we wait and watch, lead us to do so in faith. Comfort us as our grief seems to overpower us. You are a good, just and loving Father, don’t let us grow bitter in this shadow of death.

Thank You Father for Your righteousness. We trust that You will do what is right; what is loving. Whether in death or in life Your will is accomplished and You are sovereign. May we know Your presence, Lord. Keep us ever aware of Your loving hand guiding us through all things.

In the name of Jesus,