According to many people, Robert Godwin was a good God-fearing man. The father of nine children and grandfather of fourteen was murdered in cold blood on Easter Sunday by a crazed Steve Stevens. On the surface, this is a tragedy of unspeakable measure. However, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
How do we determine who’s worthy of receiving our empathy and our sympathy? How do we determine who is good or evil when we all have a place in the garden?
We can, without question, admit that Steve Stephens was a morally, abhorrent man. His motive for killing Godwin was that his girlfriend didn’t call him back. That’s a facile defense which legitimizes our feelings to not lose any sleep over this asshole’s death, right?
What do we do if the face of evil or malice comes with gray hair, bifocals, and frailty?
“Not speaking ill of the dead” has been a longstanding tradition in our community. This isn’t a particularly healthy practice because it usually errs on the side of blaming the victim but we know that it’s a common occurrence.
Godwin was 74- years old when he was gunned down. His girlfriend/ sons’ mama is 34. They have two sons together. I want to be cognizant of his family’s feelings and their grief so I’m carefully choosing my words. But we, ALL, did the math though, right?
The couple was together for eighteen years. That would mean she was 16 and he was 56 when they started “dating”. FULL STOP. My daughter will be 16 this year. I cannot fathom a girl of that age desiring a man of that age. Hell, I can’t fathom it for myself.
I am willing to bet that Angela Smith didn’t have her parent’s protection or anyone else’s protection for that matter. I am, also, willing to wager that Godwin wasn’t the first predator she’d come across. NO MAN, who has lived 56 years on God’s good green earth, thinks that a child is his equal or could be his partner. This isn’t 1863 or 1932. It was 1999. Grown men weren’t trying to date children- age of consent be damned.
I will be honest. This new narrative changed how I felt. I have to admit that I don’t feel as empathetic as people would have me feel. Are we expected to glaze over this new development for the sake of respecting the dead?
We, certainly, have more than one victim here. And as I watched his family forgive his killer, I couldn’t help but ponder if it was because maybe he hadn’t been such a “God-fearing man” after all.
Undoubtedly, Godwin’s murder on camera was heinous but robbing a young girl of her innocence and you are a grown ass man-is equally egregious.
Black folks have been sweeping abuse under the rug and throwing skeletons in closets since forever. It’s time to step into the light. Our victims’ lives depend on it.