American Monster

American Monster

I just finished Netflix’s American Murder: The Family Next Door, which tells the story of the murder of Shannan Watts and her two children by her husband, Chris Watts. The documentary is told through Shannan’s own voice as we see old Facebook videos of her and text messages that were provided by her family. The opening scene is especially heartbreaking as you are there in the shoes of a police officer who is initially performing a welfare check, knowing she is dead as an audience member. We see Chris Watts rush home and play the part of concerned dad and this time, we know for sure he is the killer. How can a man kill his wife and strangle his children whom he had just tucked into bed the night before?

At the end of the documentary, it states that the suspect who kills their spouse and children is usually male and it is almost always premediated. Chris cheated on his wife and was in love with another woman, so he decided to kill his family to start a new life, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Some people believe Shannan was bossy or ‘bitchy’ and she herself states she wore the pants in the relationship, leading some to think she caused Chris to cheat on her. I would say otherwise. Chris decided to cheat with another woman who also seemed very strong-willed, so I think he is attracted to ‘bossy’ women, so it wasn’t that aspect that led him to cheat and devise a plan to kill her.

It seemed he did love his mistress and refused to have sex with his wife or call his children when they were on vacation. So why not just divorce them? He was leading a dual life, but he wasn’t dual in nature. This was a man who prided himself as being honest, hard-working, and a good citizen. That is why he agreed to talk to the police, take polygraphs, and talk to the news. He believes himself to be a good person, and that’s what good people do. Good people also don’t cheat, so he could never admit it to his wife no matter how many times he asked. That is the reason why he killed her and the kids: to assuage the guilt he felt as he was not a good person. However, if they simply disappeared, he would never have to answer those questions.

Instead of being honest with his wife, he lied to her time and time again because he could not be honest with himself. He could not admit to himself that he was a cheater and a bad parent. He could not see himself as the person who tore apart his family, so he did everything he could do to make the problem go away. He randomly asked why he couldn’t save his own kids, but the moment he put them in the back of his truck with his wife’s body, he no longer saw them as children. You place children in the backseat in their car seats, and he did not. He had already distanced himself from them. He knew exactly what he was doing when he drove to that site.

You could see in his demeanor and his words that he was not a good actor. Even his neighbor noted that he was not his usual self. He was in the process of distancing himself from the murders so he wouldn’t have to reckon with the idea that he was not a good person. His whole identity rested on the notion that he believed he would always do the right thing and he didn’t have the strength to admit that he had made a mistake. He didn’t want to see or acknowledge his mistakes, so he brushed them under a rug where he didn’t have to deal with them.

He was a person who was eager to please and perhaps because his mother was controlling, he sought out women like her and did not voice his opinion when he was unhappy. This led him to suppress his true desires and needs. When he met his mistress, it all came to the surface and he finally felt alive again. He felt seen. Acknowledged. And still, he knew what he was doing would devastate his wife, so he lied. Not because he didn’t want her to find out about the cheating, but because he didn’t want his facade of being the perfect husband and father to come crumbling down. He just couldn’t live with that idea. Instead, he choose to do the unthinkable.

In murdering his family, Chris did what he never wanted to happen: let the world know that he was a terrible person. It didn’t matter how much he acquiesced to the police or reporters anymore, because they all knew who he really was. And why are we so fascinated with him? Because we never expect the all-American family man to commit such a heinous act? If we can’t believe that, it will be harder to believe the victims of such crimes and what has been perpetrated upon them. There are no monsters walking among us, only broken people who are afraid of the truth and it’s time we realize this can happen anywhere.

An Asian Reviews Mulan: The Live-Action One

An Asian Reviews Mulan: The Live-Action One

As an Asian person who lives in America, I am always excited to see big-screen movies that come out with an Asian-led cast.  Representation matters because minorities should be able to see themselves as leads in movies.  When there is little representation and we are sidelined as sidekicks, we see that our narratives are not as measured as important as others are.  When Mulan was announced, many that I knew were excited about the prospect of a live-action movie with characters that looked like them.  We can actually see ourselves in them as Doua Moua is of Hmong descent.  Simply based on this, this movie helps to celebrate who we are and how we fit into the realm of American movies.  However, the movie falls flat of actually empowering Asians through its narrative.

The movie itself lacks candor, strong relationships, and character growth.  They decide not to include any humor, songs, and magicality in the movie, leaving behind a mostly dramatic movie that lacks any of the charms of the original.  And to add insult to injury, they do not develop Mulan or her relationships with anyone, leaving the audience to not care for her struggle.  In the new movie, she is already a force to be reckoned with at a young age and must shed her lies to reveal her true self, meaning there was no character development.  We do not see her overcome anything and there is no dramatic weight to the film because we are never made to feel as if she has a strong relationship with the romantic lead or her father.  Even the coterie of soldiers do not feel like a band of friends because they do not do anything together.  Although all the actors were Asian, behind the scenes, many of the decisions were made by a mostly White crew, which I felt did not do the movie justice.

The movie had four White writers, and this may have been a reason why the movie didn’t have a strong Asian feel to it.  Does every ethnic movie need to have an ethnic writer behind it?  No, but if there are four writers, why is not at least one Asian?  I think the writers failed to really embellish on what an Asian fantasy movie could be.  They did away with the ancestors and Mushu of the original, but opted for a phoenix that only Mulan could see instead, which held little cultural significance.  There is a lot of wonderful mysticism that is deeply embedded in many Asian cultures and none of this was brought out.  Instead, we got a white-washed version of honor, family, and truth.  The music that is supposed to imbue us with feeling is painfully non-Asian, showing that this movie was really made by White people for White people.  When the writers, the costume designer, the music composer, most of the producers, and the director are all white in a movie that is supposed to celebrate Asianess , how can I see myself in it?

The New White Americans Are Proud

The New White Americans Are Proud

There’s a new breed of White Americans in town who do not want to be labeled as racists and are also zealously proud of their whiteness.  America has come to terms with a new landscape since the shootings by police of George Floyd in Minnesota and Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, resulting in days of rioting, protesting, and destruction.  All these acts then further divide the nation as we try grapple with what we perceive is right and wrong and ardently argue for our rights.  What has emerged is a new set of White Americans who may condemn the shootings, but still wholeheartedly support the police, condemn the ensuing violence, and also refute the movement of Black people, who are trying to change things.  In the landscape of the Midwest of Minnesota nice, how is that the these very people who smile at strangers can’t have compassion for the minorities who are being killed in their backyard?  What is happening in the heartland that race relations and communication between the police and the community have broken down?  Well, the New Proud American may assert that the fault lies with the criminals and those who break laws and not anyone else.

While the Midwest is supposed to be known for being overly nice, is that what minorities have encountered?  I have heard stories of New Yorkers who are unused to the ways of the Midwest, where we say hello to strangers in the street and hold doors for others.  This is mostly true for most of the Midwest, but there is also another layer when you are a minority.  As a minority, I’ve been told to go back to my own country, mocked for speaking my own language, and physically threatened all for being Asian.  When I relate this to my white counterparts, they believe me, but some of them do not believe it is a prevalent or systematic issue.  As most of them have grown up in a mostly white community, they have never encountered what it means to be “other” so they can only rely on what they hear and if they do not have many minority acquaintances, the voices in their community will not be as diverse.  Instead, they rely on Fox News talking points and listen to Black Republicans such as Candace Owen, using her words so that they are speaking through a minority and they do not feel as if they are treading over other minorities because a Black woman said so.

Who are these Proud, white Americans and how did they get to be that way?  Proud Americans are almost exclusively Republicans and typically grew up in a society where they felt blamed for crimes they never committed.  They are made to feel as if it is their personal fault that slavery ravaged this country when their ancestors never owned slaves.  They feel as if they are losing out on opportunities to minorities through Affirmative Action and fear those that are invading their land.  They feel as if their rights are being taken away such as their guns, and they feel it is unfair that Black people can use the “N” word when they can’t.  Far-right news meida then uses these things to stoke fear and anger in them, urging them to agitate for change and to fight for their right to also be proud of who they are.  When they talk about white privilege, they are indignant and state that they were able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, so anyone else of any other race should be able to as well, ignoring systematic racism.  To counter systematic racism, some of them believe it simply does not exist, because if it did exist, they would have to reckon with how they have been helped because of it, and they simply can’t.

In a nut shell, Proud Americans do not think things are fair.  If Affirmative Action benefits minorities solely on the basis of their skin color, that is not fair to them, even though it is trying to correct years of oppression for minorities.  If they can’t say the “N” word, no one should be able to, even though Black people are taking aback a word that White people used as a slur.  If Black people are able to say they are proud of their skin color, they should also be able to say it, even though Black people have been told they are ugly just because of their skin color and White people have never been told the same thing.  Proud Americans are tired of being told to feel sorry for slavery, systematic racism, and more, so they now choose to not feel sorry and to not feel sorry, they must deny that racism is real.  They may believe me when I tell them about the things that have happened to me because they know who I am and would never be racist to me, but they cannot comprehend that this happens to the majority of minorities on a daily basis , which is also racist, but they do not see that.  They do not see it because they would never be racist to a minority, so they don’t think it applies to them, but when they deny systematic racism on a grander scale, it is racist. 

The new Proud Americans may never call you a slur or burn a cross in your yard, but they definitely do not fight for minorities if they cling on to the idea that they are being oppressed when others tell them racism is real.  To white people: you don’t have to feel guilty for any of these things.  They are not your doing and they do not mean your personal struggle is any less real than a minority’s struggle, but please do not continue to deny that systematic racism exists, because it hurts the very minority people who you claim are your friends.  To Black people: the majority of non-Black people who don’t fight for you do  not hate you.  The majority of them simply don’t care because it doesn’t affect them.  It is not hatred that is killing you but apathy.  It is sad to see other minorities who have experienced racism also deny your struggle because we simply aren’t Black.  The reality is that many non-Blacks care about the Black people they know and trust in their lives, but many of us do not care about Black people as a whole and that’s where the real problem is.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Why Everyone Loves Conspiracy Theories

Why Everyone Loves Conspiracy Theories

There are a proliferation of conspiracy out there from Pizzagate to the Sandy Hook mass shooting and even to the usefulness of vaccinations, but why do people keep buying into them?  History shows that we’ve always bought into them and even with the ability to fact-check via the internet at our fingertips, we will continue believing in far-fetched ideas.  In 68 AD, conspiracy theories abounded when the Roman emperor, Nero, committed suicide, with many believing he faked his own death and was still secretly alive.  And today, many people believe Tupac Shakur is alive and well somewhere despite pictures of his dead body on a slab.  Conspiracies have always been a part of who we are and we enjoy partaking in them because we feel as we are privy to something that is forbidden.  So why do we forgo logic to believe things that have no proof? 

One of the most recent conspiracy theories is the Save the Children movement that is spreading like wildfire on the internet and in the hearts of parents everywhere with little regard to the truth.  The conspiracy theory states that there is a cabal of powerful individuals who are abducting and trafficking our children into sex-slavery.  That would be enough to strike fear into any mother, but where is the proof?  While any child can be targeted by traffickers, research has shown that abductors actually target children with increased vulnerabilities such as those who are runaways, those who have experienced previous sexual abuse or rape, or those who have been stigmatized by their family.  However, when you bring up these facts, those who ardently argue against you say it doesn’t matter because children are still being trafficked.  While it is true that this is happening, the likelihood that this will happen to your child are slim, but it doesn’t stop people from protecting the conspiracy theory.

When confronted with statistics such as an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing every year and 49% are kidnappings by family members, 27% are by acquaintances, and 27% are by strangers, those who strongly believe in the validity of the conspiracy theories then attack the other side and accuse them of not caring about the children who are kidnapped.  In actuality, they are now living in fear of something that will most likely never happen.  Fear-mongering can lead to devastating outcomes as a recent post advocated for not wearing masks during the pandemic in order to protect children against trafficking.  Children are more at risk of being molested by family members than they are to be abducted and sold into sexual slavery.  These are facts.  The issue is that when you argue with someone who believes in a conspiracy theory, they don’t deal in facts.  They deal in emotions.  And people believe in their emotions over actual facts because they feel so strongly about then.  They may feel so strongly that they may break into a pizza store with a gun demanding to see the children.  Facts are nuggets of truth, but rather or not people believe them is something different.  Their beliefs are predicated on how they feel about the situation, not actual facts.  If they feel strongly, they will ignore facts to bolster their cause.

We love conspiracy theories not because we are uneducated, but because we choose to ignore facts.  Conspiracy theories allow us to take up the perceived mantle of a cause that we feel strongly about.  We believe it because belief is not about facts, but ideas.  If you can believe in God without any proof, you can see how others may believe in conspiracy theories without proof.  When we live in a society where we feel as if we have little power and no voice, the idea of a conspiracy theory lends credence to our small voice that echoes in a chamber.  When we find others like us, we feel as if we are a movement because we may have no real agency in our lives.  This gives us the courage to advocate for change for things that don’t exist.  In the end, it makes us feel powerful.  We feel as if we are in on a big secret that others are not aware of and we are privileged because of it.  We forgo facts because they risk toppling our house of cards. 

So how does one go about disarming these conspiracy theories if the believers are ready to pounce on you?  With compassion.  If you come with facts, they will try to shout over you and become indignant in their rage, but if you move with kindness, it dispels their ideas of who the opposition is.  Compassion cannot be shown in every situation, but when you can, it will make a big difference in your interactions with people who choose to remain misinformed.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

https://www.missingkids.org/theissues/trafficking

https://globalmissingkids.org/awareness/missing-children-statistics/#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20an,a%20snapshot%20of%20the%20problem.

https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/stranger-safety/child-abduction-facts/

Why Do Black People Riot?

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I’ve heard this question by many people who aren’t Black.  Why are Black people rioting?  Why are they destroying their own neighborhoods?  How do they think this is going to help change anything?  It’s not going to help change anything.  Rioting is not about effecting change.  That is what the protesters are trying to do.  The Protesters of BLM are trying to bring about change because they are tired of systematic racism and abuse by the police.  So why riot?  What does rioting accomplish?  In the eyes of those who are non-Black, rioting diminishes the message of the protesters and even invalidates their claims because they view rioting as illegal and unwarranted.

Rioting is not relegated only to Black people though.   White people have used riots as well.  On March 5, 1770, a crowd armed with clubs formed to protest about a British soldier not paying a bill that later resulted in the death of Crispus Attucks and which later became known as the Boston Massacre.  On December 16, 1773, people who were fed up with paying taxes to the King dumped a shipment of tea into the bay dressed as Native Americans.  Rioting by any other name such as a rebellion, revolt, or civil unrest is still an act of speaking up against injustices.  And yet, when White people riot after their team has won the Superbowl, no one condemns a whole race or even the football team, but when Black people protest and riot, it invalidates the entire reason for their struggle.  Perhaps it is because some of us do not want to listen to them that we we simply ignore their struggles.

We then say that they have no right to destroy property that is not theirs.  That it is illegal to loot and take down statues and as such, we will no longer listen to their protests because the rioting has tainted it.  But White people have killed Blacks in the Tulsa Race Riot in 1921 and the Rosewood Massacre in 1923 and yet, it is still Black people who we view as violent and dangerous.  When it is convenient, we use certain narratives to fuel carefully crafted ideas we have of others and that isn’t fair.  And still, we ask ‘why do they riot?’  What does it accomplish?  Once again, it accomplishes nothing because rioting is not about calling for action.  Protesting calls for action.  Black rioting is simply a reaction.

After Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4,1968, multiple riots happened throughout the United States, taking place in cities such as Washington D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, and Kansas City.  It was a reaction to the murder of a beloved leader who could no longer lead them.  It was about the pain and sorrow they had carried for decades and the anger they felt for what had happened.  After 4 officers were acquitted of charges for excessive force against Rodney King on April 29, 1992, Los Angeles erupted in riots because Black residents were enraged over the continual treatment of their kind by police and how the system worked against them but did work for the very police who trampled upon their rights.

Black rioting has never been about demanding change.  Black rioting is a reaction of raw emotions that have always been bubbling beneath the surface and has erupted because of further injustices.  So to answer your question, no, rioting by Black people does not accomplish anything, but what it does do is lay bare the emotional pain of a people who have been mistreated for hundreds of years because non-Blacks refuse to acknowledge their plights and dismiss their concerns because they feel as if Black people aren’t broaching them in a way that is valid.

Photo by Maan Limburg on Unsplash

 

Who is responsible for watering this plant?

So we have this plant in our office that is rigged up with a water bottle to self-water when needed.  It got moved to my window and I let it be known that it was not my job to take care of this plant and I washed my hands of it.  Over the last few months, it has slowly been dying and withering away, but when I look at it, the water bottle is half full, so I thought that it was fine.  Still, I said it’s not my problem because I already said I refused to take care of it.  Last week, the dying leaves littered the floor around me and I was forced to clean it up.  I thought that the water bottle may be faulty and poured water into the pot and when I did, the soil soaked it up and the water bottle started to actually leak out water.  I realized then that the soil was so dry that the bottle couldn’t even properly work.  I feel this is a good analogy for what’s happening right now in our country.  We never said that it was our personal responsibility to take care of police brutality and racism against Black people, so we didn’t.  It happened, but it was just there and we didn’t acknowledge it until it started dying on our very doorsteps.  And when we looked into the issue, we started to realize that we were blaming Black people for not growing when it was really the system that was failing them.  Perhaps we can stop refusing to acknowledge the root of the problem and what lies underneath because it actually does affect all of us.

George Floyd’s Death and Riots will Change Nothing

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On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed after police were called to an alleged forging incident at a store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Almost immediately, everyone in America began watching the video shot by bystanders and were horrified when George stopped breathing under the weight of 3 Minnesota police officers and another one that stood by controlling the crowd.  I felt terrified as I watched the police officers callously kneel on top of him, instructing him to get in the car, and then admonishing him for not being able to.  Because of this, they said he was not complying with their commands and continued to cut off his air supply.  And finally, the moment came when George stopped moving and you could see that the officers did not care if he lived or died.  What came in the aftermath of his death was outrage, fear, and calls for change.  Inevitably, the rioting came and with them came discourse that we as a nation could not agree with.

Some have said that the rioting is overshadowing George’s death and undermine the calls for change, but those people must also realize that rioting after a Black person has been killed by police is a part of American history.  For those that agree with it, rioting means that Black people are trying to be heard and taking back the power from the police and government by instilling the same fear they feel on them.  They want them to feel as helpless as they did.  For those that disagree, it means that the destruction is destroying homes and livelihoods while putting actual lives at risk.  Although both sides may not see eye to eye, both are contending with real fear and to minimize either side means that the other won’t listen.  If they don’t listen, there can be no real change because change is needed by the majority.

Tamir Rice was killed in 2014.  Philando Castille was killed in 2016.  Eric Garner was killed in 2014.  All were unarmed and killed by police and multiple peaceful protests erupted to agitate for change, and yet in 2020, there is still no change.  Why is that?  We can train police better, have better techniques, and have more body cams, but it is still not preventing any deaths.  In truth, any protests peaceful or otherwise will not change the status quo, but protest is still vital because it is an expression of the human psyche.  They protest to be treated equally, and to be treated equally, we must change laws and society so that we can be closer to equality.  We need opportunities for those who are poor and minorities to have an equal footing.  We need school districts equally funded and affordable higher education.  We need more social safety nets for all families who are experiencing hunger, homelessness, or abuse.  We need affordable medical and mental health care so that we can live.  And to get these things, we must stop gerrymandering, Super PACs, and stop all corruption in our government.  And to have that, we must get ordinary people to care and the truth is that most of us just don’t care enough.

It’s hard to care when all these millionaires can buy and sell congressmen and big business can write new laws at will.  How can the average person take part in change if they have no idea where to start?  We can start by not hating each other.  If we can stop hating each other long enough to agree on a different future, we can bring about change because we must realize it is our indifference that is killing Black people.  However, if we ourselves are not Black, we care a little less.  It’s natural to have an affinity for those like us because even babies are proven to choose someone that has the same choices as them.  What isn’t natural is letting the killing continue.  We must speak out, but at the same time, we cannot tell the other side they are completely wrong, for when we do that, we end up alienating them and lose them even further to the other side.

I myself am Hmong and with the Hmong officer who stood watch during George Floyd’s murder, there have been strong opinions on what should happen to him.  My people are mostly outraged that some of their business and homes are being destroyed and they are being targeted for hate because of the Hmong officer.  While I may not agree with some of their sentiments, I can’t discount them either.  Their fear is palpable and very real, but so are the fears that Black people face every day.  All I can do is advocate for what I think is right while still respecting their wishes, because if I don’t, they will stop listening.  Whether you are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native, or anything else, you will usually feel more strongly for your own kind, but we must also try to understand each other for we are all in this together.  We are not all on the same footing, but we can try to listen to each other because we need them more than we think.

Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

Coping with Corona Virus

It’s been a few weeks into our quarantine and we’ve just been told there are many more weeks left in isolation and many of us are freaking out.  Some of us want to get back to normal.  Some of us hate being told what to do.  And some of us aren’t quarantining at all.  Many of us do understand why we have to self-isolate and are doing so, but like those that aren’t, we aren’t coping with it as well as we should, perhaps because this is the first real big pandemic that we have faced and we’ve all been coddled all of our lives, living in bubbles thinking that nothing bad will ever happen to us.

We’ve been through recessions, 9/11, and other national issues, but those things never came close to what we are experiencing now and as such, we don’t know what to do.  The truth is that we’ve never been prepared as the proliferation of anti-vaxxers have taught us that you don’t have to listen to science and the government if you don’t want to.  We don’t have a social safety net to take care of millions of out-of-work citizens because we think everyone should be able to fend for themselves.  And we think we don’t have to care about the outside world because we need to take care of ourselves first.  It is precisely these ideas that have shaped how we have dealt with this pandemic and it has been disastrous.  We don’t have to blame Trump or the government because we’re the ones who think this way and we’re the ones that let this happen.

There are no easy answers and no magic solutions that will happen overnight and that scares a lot of people that are used to instantaneous results.  We’re a nation that runs on fast food and faster coffee, so when we’re told that they don’t know when life is going to return to normal again, we cannot comprehend that.  There is a lot of uncertainty right now and so people are trying to regain some measure of strength by protesting, acting racist, and breaking rules; for in doing so, they feel they are taking control of something that they can’t control.  This in turn creates more chaos and fuels narratives that people fashion into their own liking.  We have to accept that there is nothing we can do about the virus right now, but there is a lot we can do about how we treat one another.

So how do you cope with everything that is going on?  You take it one day at a time.  Stand up for others.  Help where you can.  Keep your hands busy.  And above all else, understand that how we view ourselves and others must change.  What we’ve been doing barely worked before and the virus has laid bare the inadequacies of our rules, policies, and ways of thinking.  Sometimes, change comes quietly and at others, it comes in on the back of a tidal wave.

What happened to Aaron Hernandez?

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The new documentary on Netflix entitled Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez offers a look back on the NFL player’s life and insight into his mind with interviews from childhood friends and jailhouse recordings of his calls with family members, but does it ever really answer why?  Why would a successful, professional athlete with a 40 million dollar contract involve himself with unsavory characters and murder people?  They and the whole world over are asking the wrong question by focusing on what he was giving up instead of asking what caused him to not care about a human life.  The documentary focuses on his life-long involvement with playing football, which ultimately resulted in a diagnoses of CTE after his death, his undercover lifestyle of being gay, and his strict upbringing, but never really nails down what motivated him.  What happened to a person that they thought killing was an acceptable response to minor issues in their lives?

The truth is that he was already who he was long before he started playing football in Florida.  At that point, he had already formed the basis of who he was and everything else only magnified the situation.  The one point that was most striking to me from the documentary was that he scored 1 out of 10 in the category of ‘social maturity.’  Although CTE contributes to impaired judgement, impulse control, aggression, and depression, I feel that the damage done to his brain exacerbated an already existing problem of immaturity.  Coupled with the fact that his father forced him to become the athlete that he wanted instead of teaching him how to grow into a man, he never learned how to accept responsibility, how his actions affected others, or had empathy for others that he hurt.  After his father died, he was free to be himself and as he had never been taught to be responsible, he became even more irrational.  Although he had varying feelings for his father, his father was the one constant in his life and it was now gone, leaving him to feel abandoned and even more hurt.

As a child, he experienced the dual nature of his father, who strived to be a community figurehead but was also secretly physically abusive in the home, which Aaron unknowingly emulated.  He had no one to turn to as he could not trust his mother after she essentially abandoned him in order to pursue a relationship with his cousin’s husband.  Because he had no one to trust and no example to model himself after, he chose to become his father.  Hernandez’s brother, DJ, also writes that he may have been sexually assaulted at an early age for a prolonged period, which may explain his confusion on his sexuality, his promiscuous lifestyle, and his drug habits.  He was clearly abusing drugs as a cry for help, covering up deep pains from his childhood from sexual and physical abuse, feelings of abandonment from the death of his father and his mother, with no emotional outlet because it wasn’t valued.  He grew up in a middle class family and neighborhood, but sought out those who were involved with drugs and destruction because he couldn’t control what was happening to him and he thought that if he achieved a certain image, he could control those around him.  He wanted others to acknowledge him and accept him while never divulging who he truly was.

In one jailhouse recording with his mother, he states that he had to go to college, and it is reported that Urban Meyer appealed to his high school principal to let Hernandez graduate early so he could attend college.  Although he had experienced a lot of trauma already, this may have been one of the more triggering traumas for him because he was truly alone and said so to his mother.  He felt that his mother was not there to protect him as he was spirited away to a school he didn’t’ know and people who had no understanding of who he was simply so they could use him for his physical prowess.  A 17-year-old boy who was emotionally damaged and using drugs to cover up for it with no support would not fare well and he didn’t.  Because he never learned about becoming mature, he handled the situation as a 16-year-old boy, perennially  stuck in the age he was when his father died, did.  He was rash, moody, angry, and everything else that described a teenaged boy while everyone else saw a 6’ 2” man.  For the first time in his life, he was on his own and tested the limits.  He eventually came to see that he could get away with many things because of who he was.

He hid being gay because he was ashamed of it.  He hid his personal life from his professional life because he learned it from his father.  He sought out multiple sexual encounters because he was still emotionally scarred from being molested.  He never learned to trust others because his mother had betrayed his, so he carried guns and knives and hired bodyguards, seeing problems at every turn.  He caused domestic strife to his girlfriend and child because he had experienced it as a child.  And through it all, he didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with it, so it all came boiling out in various ways where he self-harmed, harmed others, and destroyed his own life.  He killed others not only because he didn’t value their lives but mainly because he never learned to value his.  He killed others because in a world where he couldn’t control the outcome of his life or the game he played in, he could control this.  To him, he was only worth what he did on the field.  Without football, he was  nothing.  And that may be why he killed himself.

None of these reasons excuse his crimes or exonerate him in any way, but they shed light on a troubled person who may have been helped if caught early on.