2003-01-11 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms

The Shattered Dreams Of Thomas Johnson

After meeting with the mother of Thomas Johnson this week, I have decided to reprint a column I wrote two years ago. As I promised Mrs. Johnson, it is in memory of her murdered son. As we remember Thomas on this somber anniversary, we must find a way to end gun violence in the black community!

Hey people! I cannot express the level of anger I feel over the killing of Thomas Johnson. He was the young man gunned down on Beach Channel drive on January 10. It is really tragic that someone with so much promise could have it all taken from him in a matter of seconds by a single bullet, and I will never understand why things like this have to happen.

Thomas was an exceptional student and athlete of Christ The King High School. He was sought after by some of the top colleges in the country for his football prowess. He was a loving and caring son, and he truly made a difference in the lives of his family members and the community. The future appeared bright for him and those he cared so much about. That all changed in less than five seconds.

I have really had it up to here with all of these wannabe thugs running around with guns. I am sick of young Black men gunning each other down in their communities amongst children and elders. For some reason these fools have this twisted notion that owning a gun makes you a real tough guy and that they are not to be messed with. Well, I'm here to tell them that a real man finds ways to deal with life, and its ever-present obstacles and conflicts, without resorting to acts of violence. It is the thug, or a complete moron, who believes that any problem can be settled with a gun.

There are those who will say that this is the white man's fault for allowing an endless flow of guns into this country and the minority communities. You may even be able to find the evidence to support such a statement. However, the white man is not shoving a gun in anyone's hand and saying, "Go kill each other!" Young Black men are making the decision to purchase guns in effort to validate themselves and their manhood, and it must stop! This goes for the wannabe gangsters as well as the gang-bangers roaming the Rockaways. If you guys like to shoot so much, then join the damn military!

The way I see it, if you're walking around with a gun, you have no respect for yourself or anyone else for that matter, and it's only a matter of time before you make the decision to use it in some way. As a result of this mentality, little children, and other innocent people, get caught in the crossfire. In the case of Thomas Johnson, their dreams are shattered in mere seconds, but lives are changed forever.

There are thugs and gang members in the Redfern, Edgemere, Arverne and Hammels housing developments, and I am about to offer them a piece of advice. Some members will not appreciate what I have to say, but that's just too bad! Others will understand what I am trying to do as a journalist and a young Black man. Here's my advice. The next time you consider pulling the trigger on someone, over an argument or because you feel you were dissed, realize that your actions have severe consequences.

Also, any negative act by our people, against our people and others, causes society to view our communities as negative and hopeless. That is an insult to all of the good, hard working and upstanding people who live in "the hood", and we deserve to be seen in a better light.

I have often said that a man with a gun is a threat to society, and there are laws in place to deal with those who commit acts of violence. The threat is compounded in the case of young Black males, and they are dealt with in extreme measures. However, a young Black male armed with nothing but knowledge is far more lethal than any firearm. Trust me on this one because I'm speaking from experience. I can interpret and manipulate the laws and statutes of this country as good as any lawyer, and certain members of society, and the elite power bases hate guys like me. Knowledge is the key, and the faster the young "thug-heads" and gang-bangers learn this, our communities will be better off.

In the past, I have been met with opposition from members of the Black community, in Rockaway, who feel that I unfairly attack the youth because I have obtained a college education, whereas many poor kids have not been afforded the opportunity to do so. I happen to believe that you don't need to go to college to obtain a wealth of information. My philosophy is simple; instead of picking up a gun, pick up a book!

I'm always curious to know who reads my column, and this week I'm going to put it to the test. I'm sure what I have written in this week's edition will strike a cord with some people. If some of those people include the principals of Far Rockaway and Beach Channel High School, please find a way to make this column available to your students. If some of those people happen to work in community-based organizations, I ask that you share this with as many young people as you can. The same goes for all of the church groups that are based in the community. If you know people who have never purchased The Wave, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to make sure they read this column and discuss it. It could mark the beginning of a serious effort to correct a severe problem that is tearing our community apart.

If any of the "thug-heads" or gang-members would like to dialogue with me about what's going on in our communities, I am more than willing to do so. The G-man fears no one, and I'm always willing to listen to you, even if you feel no one else will. You may think I'm "bourgie", but I keep it real. I'm from "the hood" just like you.

See you next week!

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