Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Very Urban Funeral

I've never been to a funeral for a person who has been fatally shot. I couldn't go to Joe's funeral (the first student I experienced this tragedy with) because they needed staff to stay behind and cover classes. I did attend Izzy's viewing and funeral yesterday and what an interesting experience.

Let me first say that I've apparently become hardened because when I went to pay my respects, I didn't cry at all. Of course, I cried the whole way over and prepared myself for what lie ahead and I think that helped me stay strong at the viewing. It was terrible seeing him dead and lifeless like that. I hate that this is the last memory I have of him - bloated and without a soul. I want to remember him when he was alive, full of life and energy and being a pain in the ass, not like that in a coffin.

Anyway, I introduced myself to his mother (I hadn't met her prior to this), who was holding up remarkably well for someone burying a son, whose death was an act of violence. This was a Muslim funeral and all the women were wearing white dresses and head scarves, except his mother, who was wearing a black head scarf.

One of the nicest parts about this funeral was the distribution of mints. At the end of the funeral, the leader (who looked remarkably like Kanye West, right down to the sunglasses) of the service told the attendees to eat the mint and whenever we have memories of Izzy, let them be sweet and not sorrowful. I thought that was a very comforting ritual.

Now, let me get to the top ten list of perfectly acceptable attire at an urban funeral:

10. Baseball caps
9. Sneakers
8. Shorts
7. Mini-skirts
6. Pants so low they reveal the boxers
5. Cut off shirts that reveal one's stomach
4. Thigh-high boots
3. Sunglasses
2. Wife beaters

And the #1 most acceptable thing to wear:
T-shirts with an iron-on photo of the person who was shot.

So, the very best thing a poor, black kid (who has turned to the street), can hope for is to end up as a face on someone's t-shirt that says: "R.I.P." Something is wrong with this picture. I hope we can find a solution to help fix the prevalence of violence on the streets for poor minorities. I think education is still the leg-up for these urban minorities, but we have to fix the urban school systems.

R.I.P. Izzy, I'm sorry I failed you too.


  1. Wow. Thankful I haven't been to one yet.

  2. I sympathize with your sorrow of the loss of your student but your top ten list was a bit racist and lacked cultural awareness and your reference to Kane west was also inappropriate. People grieve in diverse ways. Please be respectful.