Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A family will be without their son for Thanksgiving due to a "hazing incident" which is college speak for we let some other beat the crap out of your kid until he died.

I went to Jackson State University and, unlike at some white schools where student in band are considered geeks, in black schools, being in the band is a place of honor and the drum majors are campus gods. To have marched with the Sonic Boom still gives me props in a few places and, to this day, my closest friends from college are those I spent my freshman year with more than 20 years ago.

We were hazed. We had to do stupid things. We were worked hard and long hours. Up at 4am and didn't get to bed until well after 10 pm. Learning to march, practicing the more complicated music that put my high school sheet music to shame.

We were hazed. Most of it was psychological. Never did anyone hit me. Never did anyone deny me water or food or make me do anything more embarassing than chanting in line with a bunch of other people, doing pushups, silly pranks.

We also knew that our band directors kept an eye on things and never let things get out of hand.

The experience I had was tough but fair and fun. When I hear about people taking hazing incidents to the level of violence or forced drinking or dangerous pranks that end up costing someone their life, I get angry. How do we let this happen to our children again and again? And make no mistake, this a hazardous issue that crosses color and class lines.

I know they are young. I know they are foolish. But there is simply no excuse for taking hazing this far. In the realm of sensless deaths, this is as sensless as it gets: Death as the result of someone else's fun and sport.

Dear God: Give solace to the family of this young man.

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