Google his name, however, and his photograph might bear witness to that cold description. A handsome young man, he is pictured wearing a clownish, multi-colored wig with the word “Love” tattooed beneath his right eye.
He was found dead in the well-traveled, wide-open lot between a Dairy Mart on East McMillan and the McDonald’s on East McMillan and Victory Parkway.
That lot is like a superhighway of pedestrians from the neighborhood taking shortcuts, some with their children in tow, back and forth between the mundane errands of their lives. From what I’ve seen, that Dairy Mart is the flashpoint of some nefarious traffic and the preferred in-and-out spot of corner boys.
In the hierarchy of neighborhood bodegas, it goes like this: United Dairy Farmers is the preference of workers on lunch breaks looking for ice cream and snacks and for mid-day drunks copping beer; the Chevron station across from the McDonald’s is the choice for lottery junkies, weedheads needing rolling papers and blunts (UDF sells neither lottery tickets nor rolling supplies) and sugar addicts (they have the best selection of sugary drinks); and the Dairy Mart is simply for the Dark Forces and the ghetto girls who love them. It’s more like a joint you’d find in Detroit.
Outside it is where Hampton’s body was found at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night.
That is not a late hour in this neighborhood.
In fact, it’s prime time.
Folks are doing what I call the ghetto scurry.
On their way to the club or to house parties, niggas are getting their drinks of choice and buying junk food and condoms in preparation for a night of hard partying.
It is loud.
It is electric.
It pulses with anticipation and agitation.
It very nearly looks like the middle of the day except it’s nighttime. Add to that the unseasonably spring-like weather for August and the block was hot around here.
People were out.
If Hampton was indeed turning tricks, my sanctified imagination tells me some ’hood nigga paid for it and became enraged once he discovered Hampton was, in fact, a man and not a woman.
That customer then had to kill that part of himself he allowed to become attracted to a man like Hampton. It’s not such a secret anymore that some black men — indeed, many men — secretly pay for homosexual sex on the street.
However, because black homophobic roots run deeper since they were often planted and watered in the black church and because black male sexual virility gets played out — no, acted out — in professional sports and rap videos unlike any other group in America, a black man’s sexual identity is so much more at risk if it’s a secret that can be literally and figuratively blown by a transvestite prostitute.
All psychosexual conjecture aside, my heart is broken for Hampton.
Whatever we think about what he looks like or what he my have been doing because of his appearance, Hampton came from somebody. He had family, he was loved, he had a childhood, he had interests and he certainly had friends.
Something astounding and stupefying has happened within the black family of man. When one of us is publicly murdered, no one comes forward to help police in the investigation.
If I am found dead in a field between a grimy bodega and a fast-food restaurant, my last prayer would be that someone will tell the cops what they saw or heard so my family can get some peace, some closure and some rest.
More importantly, I’d hope that another black person would care enough about where they live that they’d want to rid it of a murderous vermin.
Poor and black do not have to equal ignorant.
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