Saturday, October 25, 2008
I froze to the point of having a chill sweep across my body when I first read that the mother and brother of the famous singer-actress, Jennifer Hudson, was shot dead in their home yesterday. Nor does it bode well that her seven year old nephew is still missing.
If you are unfamiliar with her, she got her start to fame on American Idol and later had an unforgettable role in the movie, Dream Girls. She sang at Barack Obama's Democratic Presidential Nominee acceptance speech this past August.
William Balfour is the "one and only" suspect of killing her 57 year old mother, Darnell Donerson, and her 29 year old brother, Jason Hudson. They were found shot dead in their home, and their car is still missing.
Did he do it?
I don't know, but possibly. He was apprehended last night, but so far has not been charged with the crime. I can say with certainty that Balfour, now only 27, has the profile of being a troubled youth.
He was paroled in 2006 at age 25. He must have been 17 or 18 when arrested and convicted on carjacking and attempted murder charges, and spent seven years in prison during a time when most American youth are working or going to college, and trying to figure out who they are and what they want in life. Balfour missed that boat.
Yesterday his mother said, "Out of no means did my son do this. This heinous crime to this family is unbelievable. It's unbearable."
I'll bet it is since she's been down this road before with him, so her statement is even more tragic. He wasn't with her when the murders occurred, thus she can't say for absolute certain that he didn't do it. It must be killing her.
My son Xavier, is a former gang banger who was also a troubled youth. It took enormous effort by me and a host of professionals, family, and friends to pull him off his own path of destruction. Last night I told him about Jennifer Hudson's nightmare. He was appalled.
"I can't believe someone would kill someone's mother and brother!"
"Here's the picture of the guy they think did it," I said.
I studied Xavier, as he studied Balfour's photo.
"That nigga's gun hard," he said.
"He's past hard. He's gun hard. Looks like he'd shoot anyone without thinking about it. But underneath, he's a bitch nigga. I'd whip his azz in a fight. Lot of brothas would. That's why he lives by the gun."
"They don't know for certain he did it," I said.
"Probably did," he replied, "and if so, they gonna beat his azz when he goes to jail."
He shook his head. "Damn," he said. "Her mother..."
I explained that Balfour had been involved with Jennifer's sister, Julia, and read to him that she said on her MySpace page that "her No. 1 best friend was her mom, her second was "William" and her third was Jennifer. She also said her mom is the person she most admires while "William" was "most likely" to get arrested."
I said, "Never did Julia dream her lover would be busted for killing her mother and brother, and kidnapping and maybe murdering her seven year old son. I hope that boy is his son, or he might be dead too."
"I think I know how it happened, Ma," he said.
"I'll bet that he came to the house, maybe wanting a visit with the kid or looking for his girl [Julia]. The mama probably told him no or to stop coming around, and he started mouthing off at her, and then the brother jumped in and told him to get the fuck out of their house. That's when that bitch nigga pulled out his gun and shot them dead, with the brother first, then panicked like the lil' bitch he is and ran, taking the kid with him."
Reading more about this today, his hypothesis makes sense. Jennifer's brother was shot in the chest, suggesting to me that the murderer aimed quickly for the largest part of his body. Jennifer's mother was shot in the head; this was an execution-style killing.
It's always interesting to get the point of view of a thug or a cop. The best cops have the ability to think like criminals, but had the opportunity - and took advantage of it - and chose the straight path. Many I've met through my dealings with Xavier were bad boyz themselves as juveniles.
These particular cops were good guys and gave both him and me inspiration that he could stop using drugs, avoid trouble friends, and live a normal life. Xavier did the first two, but until he gets a trade or GED (a high school general equivalency degree), his life won't be quite normal as we think of it. He's scheduled to take a certification class to become a personal trainer and has a $6.50 an hour job now at the gym he works out in, but that's hardly enough for him to live independently like a normal adult would live.
As a therapist, I listen to projection too. That's when someone projects their feelings onto someone else. For example, if you think black men who dress a certain way or have a little swagger in their walk are inherently dangerous, you're more likely to project your beliefs on them and be quicker to assume they're guilty, sort of like middle aged people thought all long-haired young people were LSD using, sex-crazed hippies back in the late 60s.
Likewise, if you've been a black man who was once inherently dangerous, you might also negatively project your feelings and experiences on another brotha. Maybe you're right and maybe not.
As Xavier would say, it takes one to know one. At 17, drug addicted and a member of the Bloods, he was kicked out of a girlfriend's house. They had dated seriously for a year but she was tired of his descent into the street life and broke up with him. Her mother yelled in the doorway for him to not return and slammed the door. In a fit, he stabbed himself.
Yeah, that'll teach her.
Damn but I was glad she waited until he was in the yard before she did that. I'll bet she and her daughter were too. Anyone impulsive enough in anger to stab themselves could stab you in a rage. He was crazy as shit on drugs and moody by temperament along with those awful adolescent hormones.
He wasn't all that sane this summer either, at 19, when his last girlfriend was thinking about aborting his baby. He was so in love with her and praying she'd keep it. He called her place and she cruelly played games on the phone... she was giggling in the background and some guy answered and started trash-talking to Xavier that she was his girlfriend now and the sex the were having was (you fill in the blank).
Xavier ain't never been wrapped too tight from mild prenatal alcohol and chronic poly-substance abuse, plus his early years in neglectful foster homes that left him malnourished when I adopted him.
On that night, he was clinically insane for about a two hours. Nigga had borrowed a gun I didn't know about and said he was gonna kill that son of bitch at his girl's place. Called one of his old homeboyz to pick him up and drive him over there. I was a star in diffusing that shit.
When his friend pulled up in front, I told him of Xavier's plan. This young man's jaw dropped in shock. He's a former gang banger who went straight and now has a great job, and didn't want no part of that. He was a star too, and talked sanity back into my son's head in our parking lot. That story is in my long and compelling article, Abortion Blues.
Thus, Xavier is in an exquisite position to speak of how a criminal lifestyle combined with disadvantages and loss of love can make some men go crazy and become violent.
He was still angrily staring at the photos of this man and Jennifer Hudson. Steam was practically coming out of his ears, and if looks could kill, Balfour would be dead. I had the sense that my son could see what he could have become.
"You almost lost it too, a couple months ago," I said.
He grit on me. "I'd have never shot that azzhole!"
"You were nuts that night. Anything could have happened."
"I'm not like that."
He went back to staring at the photos. He reminded me of myself, never realizing how much I admired and cared about Jennifer Hudson until something unspeakably horrid happened to her family.
I asked Xavier, "Assuming he did it, what went wrong with William Balfour?"
He sighed, then replied in soft-spoken anger:
Posted by Kit (Keep It Trill) at 1:16 PM