Merlene Davis: The Boston Marathon celebration needs to be replicated in other places where fear lives

Herald-Leader columnistApril 14, 2014 

The screams, the blank stares and the chaos were played over and over again last year as TV cameras allowed us to witness the results of hatred.

According to police reports, two young brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, fashioned two pressure-cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line where Boston Marathon runners would cross and where a significant number of onlookers would be cheering.

Three people were killed and 264 others were injured, many with damaged or severed limbs.

Although many people ran toward the apparent danger to help, the bombs and their alleged makers had fulfilled their purpose.

The people of Boston were thrust into knowing what ordinary citizens in some poorer neighborhoods have grown used to: the life we live today is not guaranteed for tomorrow. Caution and fear have entered the equation.

Now, a year later, we celebrate the runners whose lives were changed so quickly. For the injured, we admire their successful struggle to regain as much normalcy as they can.

The marathon this year, scheduled for April 21, will include a field of 36,000 runners, the maximum allowed, and 9,000 more than last year.

People want to prove a point: Fear will not rule our lives.

But will all the hoopla be just for show? Fear does actually rule us, doesn't it?

Isn't that why we have seen so many innocent young black youth killed by adults who chose to shoot first, never bothering to ask questions?

Don't we fear those youths because we hear more about their crime sprees than their good deeds?

In many neighborhoods, children are kept closer to home, inside if possible, because there is no telling what could happen to them while simply playing in the yard.

The fear may be justified, but it is still fear.

The fear in Boston is justified, as well, but we have an entire nation declaring we will not allow the marathon to be painted as something to avoid, something we will hide from.

Fear means we are no longer in control, that we believe an outside negative force has more power than we do. That's why we will not tolerate terrorism. But it does not explain why we don't show the same intolerance for crime and the fear it generates. Isn't crime a negative outside force, too?

We will fight to keep runners and bystanders in Boston from becoming permanent victims, but we don't seem to have a problem allowing some communities and black youth to be victimized.

Why aren't low-rent districts afforded the same rescue efforts and our youth the same outpouring of love as Boston and the people that terrorist act affected?

Although a lot of money flowed into Boston for the survivors and their families, I think we need a lot of people to storm our poorer communities and declare them off limits to crime.

Our youth need folks who run to them, not from them. And then suffering communities need to have a huge celebration of the resulting turnaround.

I will be watching throughout the day as one triumphant survivor after another details the efforts he or she has taken to combat the fear of terrorism and of being a victim for life.

I applaud them. I hope I would have done the same.

Surely we can find ways to bring our low-rent communities and our black youth back to near normalcy as well.

There has to be a good reason for the numerous Biblical commands to "fear not."

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog:

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