Just when we thought the Cleveland man Steve Stephens who killed an innocent old man named Robert Goodwin Sr, and caused a nationwide manhunt was the epitome of sickness…another man proves he’s far worse than Stephens and does the unthinkable.

31360_10150194328180584_8289904_nThis man killed a little boy in Columbus Ohio. The innocent little boys last day on earth was at school. He was a bright student and had a future ahead of him until he was brutally murdered in front of all his classmates by the killer Donte Woods-Spikes. The saddest part is after he murdered the little boy (pictured below) he took the body with him and left a letter behind explaining why he did it.

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The Letter reads,

“I am from Columbus Ohio…I am the murderer of the little boy, and I’ve been on the run with his lifeless body ever since that day. I don’t feel bad for killing him at all, I actually did him a favor. He was about to live a bad life anyway. I’m writing this to let everyone know you will NEVER catch me for killing him, even if I’m in front of your face. You will never find his body either. Don’t bother telling the police, don’t tell his parents, don’t inform any schools, because I killed him in front of them and they didn’t care. He is not the only little boy that was killed, there is a group of us that kills black boys often. Not only in Ohio, but all over the United States. If you have a black son prepare for him to get killed very soon.”

Now, as much as I would like to continue on with the metaphor, I have to stop here and let it be know that there is no killer and there is no bounty. I don’t want anyone to get killed.

For those that haven’t caught on yet, I AM the little innocent boy. The killer I was referring to was MYSELF. As a child, I decided to kill myself internally because I KNEW there was no way I could exist if I continued to be myself. As I got older…me killing myself inside as a child, made me want to do unthinkable things as a man. Now that I revealed my angle, please read the letter again if need be before you continue on.

Now lets get back to Steve Stephens.

Is what he did beyond disgusting, yes.

Was it very selfish to do? Yes.

Was it unforgivable? Yes.

Was it cowardly? Yes.

But….

Was what he did unique? No.

What WAS unique about it this whole situation was the fact that he actually recorded it AND provided an explanation as to why he did what he did. That is something that is very rare. I was just as bothered as everyone else, but I became much more bothered after he began to speak. Why? Because every single thing he said out loud is something I said inside of my head. From my relationship failing, to not having any money, not liking my job, feeling like no one listens to me, to me wanting to kill myself or someone else. Of course, he is at full fault for his actions, but id be lying if I said I wasn’t there before with my actions.

As much as I hate to admit it, as well plenty of other black men, in some ways, we are just like him. As black men we “kill” the innocent version of ourselves so we can survive in the environment we are in. We are NOT taught how to speak about our feelings or share what we are going through. As time goes on we constantly suppress our emotions and feelings. Once we reach an certain age around our teen years, we get a special visit from someone…our innocent self. What happens next?

Our innocent self ask if it can come back into our life. We are left with 2 choices to make. Some of us say…

“No, its too late. I got rid of you for a reason. Im better off this way.”

While others say “Yea, I know this environment has changed me into a person I’m not, and plus I need to get a job, and I don’t want to be like my father, and I don’t want to go to jail, and etc…”

So for the guy that says yes to letting his innocence back into his life, he’s faced with a problem. He forgets to address all of the years of his life where his innocence was missing. The transition is instant. So…when he finally tries to live life different, some of the simplest things that shouldn’t be offensive to him, are. When things don’t go his way he internalizes it, and it becomes a personal attack on his innocence that he’s recently just let back into his life. The newly developed individual he’s become is meaningless in his mind because NOBODY respects it. He can’t talk to anyone about it because when he does, they may tell him “thats life” or “man up” or “you’ll be aight.”

Now its something going on inside of him. A lot of opposing feelings begin to surface, and most of all that innocent part of him starts to walk away again…and he’s not even bothering to stop it because doing everything the right way hurts too much, and having that moment of being in tune with his innocence once again, and seeing it leave…hurts even more. He can’t get beyond the fact that he decided to change his life, and nobody cares. He knows he doesn’t deserve any praise…but it seems like the innocent version has no significance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, common sense says when a person is on edge, and feel as If they have nothing and no one to turn to, they “snap.” He didn’t snap If you ask me…he simply just didn’t care anymore and used the word snap in place of that. Regardless if it was him snapping or not caring anymore, when a person gets to that point they may begin blurting things out, they may start seeking attention in irrational ways, they may become distant or clingy, they may kill themselves…or in this case someone else. Regardless of what how stupid their “reasoning” may seem to us, if its reason enough for them to do something along the lines of what Steve Stephens did…thats REASON enough for us to pay more attention to the fact it happened.

Stating the obvious about this issue, calling him a coward, and saying what he done was wrong does nothing for the innocent man that was killed. All it does is remind the family that their loved one is gone.

I was literally supposed to be Stephens. Everything he said, and went through I did and I was prepared to do things that made no sense. Most of all I wouldn’t of cared what happened. I wouldn’t care If I went to jail, I would care if I got killed or if I took an innocent persons life, because I had to destroy mines and dig deep to find it again and luckily I was able to keep it.

You can cut the news on EVERYDAY and see someone has been killed. Stephens didn’t need the news to show what he did, he showed us hisself. Out of all the senseless killings we have witnessed in the past few years HE is the closest thing to reminding me of myself. In a perfect world I would like to say I’m no where near being like him but that is a lie. I snapped before but I didn’t kill anyone…except for my internal self.

As of today I go back to my past and realize I was suffering from anxiety, depression, isolation, trauma, and various other things. From the average persons view, I looked like the kid that understood everything, that had it all together, that was going to make it in life, that had a good head on his shoulders…but in reality I was having serious internalized psychological issues. I think back on those specific years where I showed obvious signs of losing my mind…but nobody said or done anything to try and help. I could of EASILY went out and killed someone during that time. It all makes me wonder, even when the signs are showing…will people intervene?

I THOUGHT about taking my anger and pain out on innocent people and yes I had thoughts of killing people. At some point in my life I said EVERYTHING he said, from not feeling like I was listened to, to being ignored, to feeling like I was done wrong in a relationship. All of those things balled up into one put me in a serious trance for years. While I was in that trance there was absolutely NOTHING anyone could say or do to change my way of thinking.

As far as Stephens goes, I don’t know if my experience is his, I’m not sure if he was using excuses to do something he already planned to do, I don’t know if he was really mentally ill…but I do know He reminded me of myself, and it made me question myself and reflect back on life and how I can be just as bad as he is at any moment.

If you want to make a change and make sure this doesn’t happen again, check on and listen to your brothers, fathers, uncles, sons, nephews, male cousins and friends. Once again most of us as black men are NOT trained to speak about how we feel, we are trained to show it. Also with that being said, hold them ACCOUNTABLE. This same thing happens all the time where the INNOCENT is killed…but no one has anything to say, especially when it’s someone we care about is the killer.

With that being said, if we REALLY feel bad about what happened to Robert Godwin Sr, and if we REALLY hate Stephens, then we REALLY need to pay close attention to the people around us and start listening to them if they are speaking. You never know exactly is going on in their mind, or what they are capable of doing.

P.S.

This is my TEDx talk. It talks about me coming across some very unexpected people who showed me that my voice mattered. If only we worked harder to make everyones voice matter Robert Godwin Sr, as well Steve Stephens would still be here.

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