Hopes it will reduce gun violence
By Chinta Strausberg
While recently driving home, Darryl Duncan, a father of twin teenage boys, turned up the radio when he heard about the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and before he got home in less than a half-hour, he had written a song entitled â€œ18â€ to a youth he never knew.
Duncan, founder, president and CEO of the Flow Corporate Audio Group and Gamebeat Studio located in south suburban Matteson, has been a writer/producer for more than 30-years.
With his sons being around the same age as Martin, Duncan said he was overwhelmed at hearing how Martin was followed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a volunteer watchman at a gated Sanford, Florida gated community. Zimmerman was armed, which was against the complexâ€™s rules, and Martin only had a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea.
â€œI thought of my own two children who are 16-years-old. I thought of them and the fear Trayvon must have went through in the last moments of his life trying to figure out who this guy was and why was he following him,â€ said Duncan. â€œThat was the perspective of the songâ€”Trayvonâ€™s speaking to the man who took his life.â€
Duncan said he wrote 80 percent of the song while driving home. He put it all together when he got to his studio.
Asked his initial feelings when he first learned about Martinâ€™s death, Duncan said, â€œWhen it all came out, it saddened me as it did most people. What bothered me the most about it was the fact that this gentleman (Zimmerman) was not an official neighborhood watchman. He was not operating in an official capacity.
â€œWhen he encountered Trayvon, he initially, immediately assumed that Trayvon was a criminal and up to no good; so every action he took was based on him assuming and being certain in his own mind that he was encountering a criminal, a bad guy someone who was there to break into someoneâ€™s house. He never really gave him a benefit of the doubtâ€¦. He just assumed he was a criminal and thatâ€™s the sad part,â€ said Duncan.
In talking about this case with his family and friends, Duncan said no one knows what actually happened when Martin was killed, but he wonders â€œwhat Trayvon was thinking and heâ€™s walking to his home and is continually being pursued by this gentlemen who doesnâ€™t have on a uniform and is not in any type of marked or official car.., what would any 17-year-old think? Was he thinking he was going to be hurt, robbed, mugged or killed?
â€œAt some point, Trayvon turned around and said, â€˜what is going on? What do you want? Why are you following meâ€™? What ever transpired from that point on should not have happened because Zimmerman was told not to pursue him. As far as I am concerned, everything after that is on Zimmerman because he never should have continued to pursue him when he was clearly told by the police not to pursue him. The police were called. They were coming. There was no need for Zimmerman to pursue him and he did so because he knew he had protection on him, a gun.
â€œThe tragedy for me is the fact that Trayvon need not have lost his life,â€ Duncan said. He said a conversation should have been initiated and â€œTrayvon would have been on his wayâ€¦. Nothing good could have come out of this situation especially when he was carrying a gun. Itâ€™s a real tragedy. Zimmerman made some key decisions that he should not have made that night.â€
In producing the song, Duncan reached out to Emmy award winning international vocalist Joan Collaso who recommended Isaiah Robinson. â€œI auditioned him over the phone, and his voice blew me away,â€ said Duncan. Collaso also recommended a 12-member gospel choir from New Faith Baptist Church. Duncan played all of the instruments, did the mixing and productions.
His message in producing the song is clear. â€œIt was originally dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin,â€ said Duncan. â€œIf you listen to it from a lyrical perspective, itâ€™s very easy to lay this song across the tragedy of gun violence all over this country. The song is about Trayvon in general, but the fact that so many children do not reach their 18th birthday because of violenceâ€ is a tragedy. His song asked why canâ€™t I reach my 18th birthday. Â I want my 18.â€œ
â€œThat message,â€ said Duncan, â€œthat communities all over battling gang violence, gun violence and violence in general can connect to.â€ He has received a bevy of positive messages and e-mails about his song and that half say the song brings tears to their eyes â€œbecause it is from Trayvonâ€™s perspectiveâ€¦Trayvonâ€™s singing from the grave asking â€˜where is my 18â€™â€™â€
Duncan wants the message to be â€œthat all children deserve to reach their 18th birthday and beyond and that we need to figure out a way to end this senseless violence in the street, end the gang violence, end unnecessary deaths all together. While I know this song is not the one tool to do it, it can help. It can go a long way to help people look at it differently and maybe do more about it on a personal level.â€
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.