Fatimah Ali: Fatimah Ali has some parting thoughts

Posted: March 30, 2011

WHEN IT comes to gun violence, it's almost as though some kids are numb to the imminent possibility of death.

Every day, we read the news about the shootings and school violence dominating the urban landscape across the country that are leaving educators and our political leaders scrambling for answers.

The debate over how to reverse these trends even creeps into our social lives - recently dominating the conversation at a birthday party I attended.

"We used to fight with our fists, not pack guns," was the tone of the remarks from several middle-aged men during our introspective discussion about the violence plaguing our children's generation. We all agreed that today's hoodlums are much quicker to draw weapons than they did in the good old days of our youth.

And all I could think as the conversation went on: Don't they realize that death is permanent?

Many social factors contribute to violence, not the least of which include broken homes and families, addiction, video games, TV, gangsta rap and the lack of a religious framework in many of our children's lives.

I also believe that so many of our young people are swallowed up by violence because they're angry and confused by a shoddy environment both inside and outside their homes. Because so many families are screwed up, many young people are frustrated by a lack of boundaries or stable support from their stressed-out parents, who are also often at war with each other.

Back at the party, we pondered the topic some more.

"There's a total disconnect from life," said one man, who was leaving early so he could get up at 5:30 the next morning to exercise with his children before he sent them off to school. His philosophy? Raise strong children by teaching them disciplines, like daily exercise.

As Malcolm X said, "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

For 30 years, I've integrated this standard into my work as a journalist. I started in radio back in 1981 and have worked as a reporter, editor, anchor, news director, talk-show host, and, in recent years, as an op-ed columnist here at the Daily News.

I can't imagine loving any profession more, and it's a privilege I don't take for granted. For the last five years, writing for the DN has provided me with a spectacular view of the world and a venue in which to communicate with folks who come from a broad swath of life. I read every email and online comment, and many aren't so nice. But the return for me has been having a platform that lets me weigh in on topics that I'm passionate about and to stimulate conversation about a variety of social issues.

I've written about 100 columns here, covering everything from politics, education and violence to bullying, race relations, teen pregnancy and nutrition.

But the one column that still comes up first if you Google my name is the one I call "Race War in America," from 2008. An aside on what it might mean if Barack Obama lost the election caused it to go ballistic on the Internet and be fodder for talk radio and blogs from coast to coast.

The diatribe that followed me was a real eye-opener, as well as confirmation of how much of a role race still plays in America.

It's the one issue that consistently brings out the worst in people. Racism is a blight that we must eliminate if we want this country to achieve its highest potential. And as a journalist, I'd be remiss to ignore it just because it makes some people uncomfortable.

Which brings me to this.

Several months ago, I began ponder the possibility that I might not be at the Daily News forever. I saw small signals that indicated how far apart I might be from the paper's edgy new perspective.

SO IT CAME as no surprise when I was told last week that today's column would be my last. But I remain a committed communicator, as well as a believer that God's time is always best. And it just so happens that the universe has also placed me back in my first love, talk radio, so we can continue our conversations about all the hot-button issues in our world.

Stay tuned. And join me on WURD (900-AM) today at noon to 1 p.m.

And blog with me about healthy food at healthy southerncomforts.com.