Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Open Letter to Ruben Diaz Jr.

An Open Letter to Ruben Diaz Jr.

News Flash: If you live in any ghetto U.S.A, you’re life is worth nothing more than a graffiti covered memorial wall. Unless you were really special, perhaps then you’d receive a press statement mentioning your own bloody demise – nothing more, nothing less.

This past weekend the Bronx traveled back in time to the early 90’s and saw at least 9 shootings, claiming 14 victims and 2 deaths. Harlem saw the Wild Wild West at its best with another barrage of 50 shots being fired by the trigger happy NYPD, leaving another Twitter gangster, Luis Soto, dead at the scene.

And if all of this bloodshed wasn’t enough to welcome New York back to yesteryear, the Northern Manhattan police precincts have seen a 58% increase in shootings this year.

The early news conferences about the bloody weekend were cute, with Moneybags Bloomberg holding up a bullet proof vest with a slug artistically protruding from it – only to find out days later it was put there by a fellow cop – not another piece of shit street thug as they’d want us to believe.

But what bothered me even more than the lies being reported by the media was yet another empty statement from our very own Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Diaz Jr. is supposed to know better; he himself having survived the tumultuous era of the 90’s when we were witnessing our friends lives lost on a quarterly basis as if we had to lighten the growth potential of minorities in the hood or risk overpopulating the areas.

He’s supposed to know better because he witnessed his friends swap their identities for drug addictions, head off to Correctional Universities for educational opportunities in the field of how to stay sane in the penitentiary 101 and how not to catch a buck-fifty (scar across the face) in the yard; coursework on their way to advanced degrees in survival of the fittest.

Yet even worse, he witnessed his own friends lose their lives and that is enough to make him an expert on the subject matter of senseless teen death and violence in our communities.

An expert who should have the unique ability to directly apply what he knows the streets to be, with what he knows success to be…

In my strong opinion, he’s supposed to be able to fix this because he knows the root causes of the problems as well as the answers to the solutions.

So why then does Diaz Jr. merely release another copy and pasted version of his last press release during the previous bloody weekend and promise to meet with two people who have absolutely no damn idea how to fix the issues in OUR communities?

It means absolutely nothing to anyone that he is meeting with Assistant Chief Carlos M. Gomez and District Attorney Robert T. Johnson.

How I’d love to be a fly on that wall, even if I had to sit in Bloomberg’s shit to hear what was being said…

Maybe they’ll come up with ways to arrest more minorities for spitting on the sidewalk, you know lock them up for those quality of life crimes before they really do something wrong.

Or perhaps, they’ll find ways to flood the “high-crime” areas after the shootings take place…

Yeah, because it always makes me feel safe to see cops in the neighborhood after they’ve locked everyone up for the shootings that took place last week.

Makes perfect sense to me!

Once again, I have to ask how many emails and personal face-to-face impromptu meetings do I have to have with Diaz Jr. offering sound advice in hopes that this time he’ll actually hear what I’m trying to say.

Does it make sense to anyone else that we need to reach out to ALL of the community leaders, to ALL of the youth advocates, anti-gang advocates, anti-violence advocates, ALL of the business owners, ALL of the faith based leadership, ALL of the parents who actually care to get involved, ALL of the educational institutions – specifically the teachers who feel handcuffed to make real change?

Does it make sense to anyone other than me that we need to reach EVERYONE,
EVERYWHERE if we’re ever going to stand a chance in turning this thing around?

At the end of the day isn’t this all just common sense? Isn’t it about engaging the community in a way that makes them and keeps them vested in the futures of their children and the children they watch grow up? Isn’t it about opening up dialogue to the people that actually see the problems occurring on their stoops, corners and parks on a daily and nightly basis?

Why the hell are we not being involved in planning sessions that force us to be proactive as
opposed to reactive?

Can someone please put me in the passenger seat and let me drive this out of control bus reminiscent of Keanu Reeves in the movie Speed and watch me steer us back into the fast lane towards controlled and positive change, change that can be measured, seen and felt.

It’s funny how every week someone is asking me to get into politics, something I never wanted to do. But more and more as I see the inaction of our elected leaders I’m led to believe I just might have to start prepping myself for a future in office.

Why? I guess because I’m tired of the lack of concern and compassion for my neighbors.

It’s time we elect people who cry when a perfect stranger is gunned down because they see
themselves standing over the coffin of those they lost the same way…

It’s time someone lets me put ex-convicts to work, who after spending ten, fifteen and twenty years in prison for drug related offenses become the best kinds of mentors to guide the youth back towards reality.

Our teens are stupid… And guess who made them stupid? We did!

Our teens are fearless until you put a real ex-con in front of them who won’t tolerate disrespect from the likes of a little wanna-be gangster looking for love in all the wrong places.

Our teens believe that tweeting about being thugs is the best way to live their lives, just as Luis Soto tweeted before his death this weekend, when on July 23rd he wrote, “I go 2 da grave b4 I be a bitch nigga!”

It’s high time that we introduce them to real gangsters who show remorse for the mistakes they made in life, such as the Wild Cowboys drug crew who I was able to interview on the radio a few weeks back.

And who clearly stated that they’d NEVER glorify a lifestyle that led them straight to jail for 25-to-life. And whose few members remain free are ready, willing and able to combat the false truths being spread by all these fake ass rappers out here pretending it’s perfectly normal for us to kill one another and rap about it in a song, cause it has a nice beat behind it.

Watch me put artists, musicians, actors and creative geniuses to work to educate the youth about our past greatness and our future possibilities.

Watch me heal all the damage that’s been done to our youth utilizing art therapy and writing therapy…

Watch me find the answers for those that already have them so that we can begin to rebuild our communities.

As the rapper Supa Nova Slom powerfully states in one of his songs, “I’m so sick, so sick of being sick and tired…”

Sick of seeing my people die for nothing… sick of seeing people read my blogs and go back to their daily lives as if this doesn’t affect them… sick of action not being taken.

And so sick of our elected officials, those I’ve supported, like Ruben Diaz Jr., not standing up and saying, “Come sit at the table with me… and let’s figure this out…”

Ruben, I’m waiting for your phone call… It’s your move brother… 347.517.3252.

Be like Spike and Do the right thing

Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.


  1. Perhaps because Ruben Diaz Jr. feels he is not directly affected by the problems that affect the people he represents. That's the only thing I can come up with Ivan. Sorry.

  2. Great read. This is very unfortunate. A great man once said: "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave". Stay brave Ivan, because your leaders are incapable. Cheers.

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