Death seems to be the new black this year. On Saturday I spent some time reflecting on the 1996 murder of Tupac Amaru Shakur—Saturday would have been his 41st birthday. On Father’s Day, I spent time with my dad, but thought of so many who no longer have theirs. I thought about how this Father’s Day feels for Tracy Martin, whose son was so needlessly murdered just a few months ago. I thought about the presence of death in the black community. It seems so pervasive—more so this year than ever before in my life, and I grew up in Newark, N.J.
But as my dad, my family and I were headed to church for Father’s Day services, news broke that Rodney King had died. I got that sinking feeling—with which I am now all too familiar—I get when my Twitter timeline scrolls the passing of a life that matters to me, to the black community. And the usual process unfolded. People wondered if TMZ’s early report was reliable; was Huff Post any more reliable if they just picked up the link? Eventually, some trustworthy source makes it official, and the digital outpouring of sadness begins….