Monday, July 19, 2010

Tragic Life, Tragic Death. Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, almost 16 years after his death

As I sat watching a documentary yesterday about the life of Tupac Shakur, I noticed that during his interview there was a poster on the wall behind Tupac that contained the picture of a very young boy. The interview took place in jail so I was a little confused about this child's poster hanging up inside the jail where Tupac was serving time. I could not stop looking at this young kid. The young boy's face reflected so many dark things. I thought to myself: "Well, whoever he is, he can't possibly be in jail too or wanted for something; he looks way too young". So I decided to Google his name which was visible in the poster: Robert "Yummy" Sandifer. When I began to read about this young soul, I almost broke down in tears. To my surprise, this child was already dead. I was about to find out about the tragic life of this deceased child and some of his victims.

Yummy, as he was called because of his love of junk food, was born in 1983 and died in 1994; he was only 11 years old when he died. Yummy was born to a mother who was only 15 years old when she gave birth to him. His mother was a crack addict and was physically abusive to Yummy and his other siblings. Eventually, this child was placed in his grandmother's home. His grandmother already had many other children under her care. In addition to having an obvious rough start in life,  Yummy became a gang member. His gang membership led him to be charged with arson, murder and armed robbery all in the name of the Black Disciples ,the gang he was a member of. (Let's remember that this child died when he was only 11 years old.)  It was difficult for authorities to keep Yummy detained because of his age. He was too young and too dangerous to be held in juvenile detention. Too young and too dangerous ?? How did this happen ? How could this child not have received proper therapy to deal with his obvious mental and emotional issues ? His mother was unfit and his grandmother had her hands too full and probably had her own issues to deal with. Basically, this child turned to others in his neighborhood for acceptance and survival. I thought it took a village to raise a child or does that only apply to "good" children ? How could gang violence get so out of hand ? How could this child have slipped through the cracks of the justice system ? It took this situation to serve as a voice for the entire nation about the reality of gang violence. That is why his picture was on that poster; it was there to raise awareness about gang violence.
Many people are not only oblivious of this child's tragic life but many people do not know what it is to live in a gang-infested neighborhood. For some it's "out of sight, out of mind". If you have children, you should be concerned. This can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. You don't know what life is going to throw at you next.

One of the articles that I read mentioned how several people in the neighborhood were actually glad that Yummy was killed because he was so bad. Many said "he will not be missed". That is what breaks my heart. The simple fact that this child had no one (or so it appeared) to miss him is simply heart-breaking. I'm am sure that a selected few genuinely cried for him but many were actually glad that he was gone. Others took the opportunity to teach their children the consequences of gang violence and living reckless lives by taking their children to see Yummy in a coffin hoping that it would instill some fear in them.  
Yummy committed murder and other heinous crimes, but he was simply a child; he needed help and guidance. Where was the justice system in all this ? I am not defending his acts nor his behavior but others were suppose to be accountable for him.
Yummy was killed by two members of his own gang (ages 14 and 16). His execution was ordered because he was brining "police heat" to the gang due to an incident that occurred several days earlier. Yummy attempted to kill a 15 year old boy. In the process, Yummy's victim was left partially paralyzed but Yummy also killed a young girl with a stray bullet during that same incident. Again, I repeat, this is a child who was only 11 years old.

When Yummy's gang brothers picked him up, he was led to believed that he was being taken out of town until things got settled but instead was shot in the head. I wonder if this young boy ever had thoughts of leaving that gangsta life behind. I wonder if he had other dreams and aspirations or were those dreams shattered and appeared more unreachable with every crime he committed ? What a short life; what a horrible tragedy. He is only one of many children in the entire world that experience this on a daily basis.The only picture they had of Yummy at the time of his funeral, was a mugshot.

To read more in detail about this boy's life, check out these links:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981460,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/03/us/2-brothers-held-in-slaying-of-a-murder-suspect-11.html?pagewanted=1


By: Xela

1 comment:

  1. The following comment is on behalf of a reader who is having trouble commenting; her computer is not cooperating with her. So she has asked me via email to post this comment for her:
    "To read this and not be moved is impossible; not only as a mother but as a human.
    The sad part is that there are many just like Yummy living and breathing this lifestyle as we speak.
    Not only did his maternal family fail him; we as a society at large failed him. To think that his young life, 11 years, experienced such abuse, neglect, hate and violence in such a short time is truly heartbreaking.
    It is obvious that Yummy never experienced the tender moments or lessons that most children are exposed to. Instead he was born into a world of chaos, torment, a world of fear and primitive survival.
    A true tragedy ineed. Let us pray not only for our children but for every child that finds himself in an unhealthy environment. " Mom 2006

    ReplyDelete

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