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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
A letter for Aaliyah
Aaliyah funeral
Aaliyah's mother released 22 white doves
Tributes to the soul singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash at the weekend, have been pouring in to BBC News Online.

Thousands have emailed the site expressing shock and sorrow at Aaliyah's sudden death on Saturday.

This is one heartfelt letter from a fan in Richmond, California, US.

Dear BBC

This is the first time I have visited the website.

What influenced me to log on was the beautiful article BBC wrote to honour the talents, music and life of Aaliyah.

Every one's talking, but I wanted to briefly say something about the death of this young, beautiful and gifted Woman, because I see how her death has affected the youth in my community.

Aaliyah's body being airlifted
Aaliyah's body was airlifted from Nassau on Tuesday
See, I understand the world is grieving the death of Aaliyah, everyone loved her, but the transformation I see taking place in some of the youth in my community, as a result of her death is just so unbelievable, I have to speak on it.

I work in a small town known as Richmond, California.

You may have heard of it because to some it's considered the Death Capital of the West Coast.

Since 1986 nearly 500 Hundred people, mostly teens have been murdered in Richmond.

In this City, it is very rare to find a resident who hasn't lost a love one as a result of some senseless act of violence.

funeral carriage
The casket was carried in a horse drawn glass carriage
I certainly am not excluded from the statistics.

My own Mother was accidentally shot and killed in this city seven years ago.

Violence usually always produces some kind of death, rather spiritual or natural the end is always the same, a loss with no answered questions.

Yes violence is always a problem, but what has been even more devastating for me is the fact that up until, the death of Aaliyah, most of the teens in this City accepted violence as a way of life.

It has been a no win battle to get our youth and even some of our adults to realize that such a high murder rate in a City as small as Richmond is not normal.

Aaliyah
Aaliyah was due to star in The Matrix sequel
It has been difficult because most of the Residents do not know any other way of life.

They have never travelled outside of this area, so they have nothing to compare these statistics to.

Not all, but most of our youth walked around as if they were invincible.

As long as they felt they were popular, cute and fitted, nothing could touch them.

It did not matter how many times they watched one of their friends being lowered into the ground, living fast, violently, dangerously, and for many ignorantly, was cool because they felt time was on their side.

Aaliyah funeral
Many fans turned out to see the funeral procession in New York
Local Psychologists suggest these kids are experiencing similarly what the Vietnam Veterans experienced when they came back from War-Shell Shock.

Whatever they were experiencing, the stronghold was too much for me to fight alone.

Trying to open up their minds to the truth was a fight I was loosing each day.

But this weekend something happened.

After hearing of Aaliyah's death, our youth realized time is really on no one's side.

The interruption of Aaliyah's short life has caused these kids to embrace the idea that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

Here you had a young, beautiful, successful, and talented Woman who lived her life wisely and productively, yet life was snuffed from here at the age of 22.

Sean
Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs attended the funeral
This is a very painful situation to deal with, almost unbearable even for those of us who have never met her in person.

I wish you could see the sense of grief and mourning that is lingering around the Bay Area.

This sadness is not only affecting our youth, but the elderly as well.

On Wednesday night the City of Oakland held a candle light vigil in honour of Aaliyah's memory.

Many young people attended this vigil out of curiosity and grief, but many left with something to think about.

No, they are not fully there, but the transformation is starting to take place.

It doesn't matter how beautiful, talented and rich you are - death will always welcome you.

See also:

Links to more Music stories are at the foot of the page.


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