Keeping it Real

The LA Times would like you to think this is A ‘Community Tragedy’. I say nay-nay.

BERKELEY — Until she died of a gunshot wound in front of her apartment, Meleia Willis-Starbuck was the perfect Berkeley success story — an African American Ivy League scholarship recipient who was on a strong social mission to change the world.

The more astute of you will have heard warning bells when you saw “BERKELEY”.

That she would die on the street after an ugly argument has made the pain even greater here, in a city that takes pride in its racial, ethnic and gender tolerance.

At the Berkeley High School gym Friday, more than 400 relatives, friends and schoolmates mourned the loss of the popular Dartmouth College student, believed to have been shot to death in her hometown by a close friend she may have called for help.

“A close friend she may have called for help.” Remember that. See, when I call a friend for help, it is because I am moving. Or because I’m installing a ceiling fan and I need someone to hold it.

“The city lost a wonderful hero. Someone who strived, succeeded and came back to the community,” Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said in praise of Willis-Starbuck.

The 19-year-old was killed early Sunday morning outside the apartment where she lived while working for the summer at a center for homeless women and children. Her death struck a familiar chord for San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson, an African American who writes often about East Bay black communities.

“A wonderful hero.”

“For those who question why an Ivy League student would maintain a friendship with a gun-toting man,” Johnson wrote in his Friday column, “the answers may lie in the consciousness of many African Americans who climbed the social ladder to achieve middle-class status but feel a strong sense of duty, loyalty and responsibility to the rough-cut neighborhoods they come from.”

Some of you may have just recognized the theme here. See, Meleia was “keeping it real.” Sure, she had an Ivy-league scholarship, but she was still ready to prove that she was really black by hanging out with gangsters. Perhaps she kept it really real, embodying the realest of black qualities, like drinking malt liquor, pulling trains and smoking crack.

She was keeping it real dumb.

The tragic nature of the killing near the University of California campus became apparent later Friday afternoon, when some of the same mourners gathered in an Alameda County courtroom to show support for Christopher Larry Wilson, 20, one of the two men charged with murder. The other man accused in the killing, Christopher Lester Hollis, 21, is at large.

Wilson, Hollis and Willis-Starbuck were close friends from school days at Berkeley High, which all three attended. Ivy leaguer Willis-Starbuck encouraged Wilson in his studies. After completing community college, Wilson planned to enter UC Santa Cruz this fall. Hollis and Willis-Starbuck were so close they called each other brother and sister, friends said.

According to police reports and accounts of others present at the shooting, Willis-Starbuck and five female friends had stopped at her College Avenue apartment after 1 a.m. on Sunday when they were approached by a group of men who asked them to party. Willis-Starbuck objected to the language allegedly used by some of the men, including the term “bitches.”

Oh, my! Meleia has been disrespected!!! Meleia, you see, keeps it real. And by keeping it real, I mean that she eschews alternative dispute resolutions preferred by her Anglo friends at Berkeley and instead opts for violent retribution. You see, she is entitled to do so, because she is black, and therefore has a duty to Keep It Real.

Police allege that about 1:45 a.m., a car driven by Wilson approached on an adjacent street and that Hollis got out of the car and fired several shots, one of which fatally wounded Willis-Starbuck. No one else was struck. Police are investigating the possibility that Willis-Starbuck called Wilson and Hollis on her cellphone minutes before the shooting.

In other words, the police know that her number called his number, and they are just looking for a way to prove with absolute certainty that she was on her end and he was on his.

Friends and family speculated that Hollis might have been attempting to frighten the men and accidentally shot his friend.

Phelps, on the other hand, speculates that he more likely was trying to shoot the men, and instead shot her. Either way, he is an idiot and a murderer.

“They were kids out doing what they should not be doing. They were all friends,” said Michael Jamison, a Wilson family friend who attended the hearing. “It was senseless and crazy.”

Oh really? Yeah, I can see that. Boy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shot at my friends for kicks. Boys will be boys, after all. I remember all those summers, out at the swimming hole. I would see one of the Johnson boys, and I would say to Bobby, “Bobby, ain’t that the Johnson boys?” He would say, “I recon!” and then I would lick off a couple of shots at them. Oh, those were good times.

You fucking moron, they are thugs and murderers and I hope they burn in hell! And that includes Meleia!

Shortly after police obtained arrest warrants for the two men on Wednesday, Wilson, accompanied by Berkeley attorney Elizabeth Grossman, turned himself in at the Berkeley Police Department. Grossman and others have urged Hollis, a resident of Hayward, to turn himself in.

In the days after the slaying, a small shrine was built in front of Willis-Starbuck’s apartment. Friends attached favorite photos and poems to the trunk of a large mulberry tree and circled the tree with votive candles.

One friend wrote: “Friday night I was relaxing on your couch. Saturday morning we talked on the phone. And in between then and when I woke up to start my day someone decided to display the fragility of existence.”

If you have a thug gangster boyfriend who likes to shoot at people, then yes, your existence is fragile. If your boyfriend, on the other hand, is sober, plays soccer on the weekends and works at the Coffee Barn, then your existence is considerably less fragile.

Another writer vowed: “We will not let your death [be] in vain. Stop the violence!”

She wasn’t stopping shit — she was starting shit.

“I know all of them. They are all good kids. Chris Wilson was like another son to me,” said Arnold Perkins, Alameda County Health Care Services director and Berkeley resident, who attended both events Friday. “This is a community tragedy, one of those terrible situations where friends ended up hurting friends.

They were not good kids. Good kids don’t shoot at each other. If Wilson was like a son to you, then you failed in raising him. You think it takes a village? This village failed.

I can’t buy this “friends hurting friends” crap. Friends don’t shoot at each other. If one of my “friends” was to shoot at me, I don’t think we would make up. I don’t see us going out for ice cream and discussing the root causes of “the incident” over banana splits. I’m pretty sure I would hate his ass, and we would never be friends again.

“No one blames anyone in this,” said Perkins, who spoke at the memorial service and was prepared to speak on Wilson’s behalf in the courtroom. “We are all caught in this matrix created by too many handguns.”

Oh really, ass hole? I’ve got half a dozen handguns at my house. None of them have ever shot at my “friends.” In fact, none of them have ever shot at anyone. This was a matrix of too many thugs keeping it real.

Through a friend, the family has issued only one brief statement: “This has become a tragedy for the whole community. What the family wants most is for the violence to end and for healing for everyone to begin.”

As a nervous Wilson appeared Friday before Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith, his attorney, Grossman, asked that friends and family in the courtroom stand to show community support for the prisoner. About 30 people stood. At the request of counsel, the arraignment was postponed until Wednesday.

Those who attended the memorial were asked to wear purple wristbands symbolizing the effort to end domestic violence, one of Willis-Starbuck’s causes.

BUWAHAHAHAHA!!! Don’t beat up your girl, but pop a cap at someone who says something rude to her? Add in that he ended up shooting her instead, and, well, I’m overcome by the irony if not schadenfruede.

As her parents, Kimberly Willis-Starbuck and John Starbuck, sat in the front row at the service, speaker after speaker, a rainbow of races and ethnicities, spoke of Willis-Starbuck’s intelligence, compassion and capacity for good works.

So you can measure the quality of a person by playing complexion bingo? I’m glad that we live in a world where people are judged not the by the content of their character, but the color of their friends.

Pregnant friend Mercedes Hong tearfully told of how Willis-Starbuck gave her “the strength to bring a new life into this world.”

That and a couple of ounces of jizz.

High school classmate Dana Johnston talked of how Willis-Starbuck comforted her after her mother died.

One friend read a moving rap poem he composed in her honor. Another played a cello piece she wrote. Another played a trumpet solo. Popular singer Goapole sang a soaring version of her song “Closer.”

Toward the end of the service, 20 students from Dartmouth delivered their own praise for their schoolmate. Close friend Jay Lesene read a poem he had written to the friend he called “The Woman.”

“We stand here with you,” said Dartmouth Associate Provost Stuart C. Lord. “We grieve and we ask ourselves why this happened.”

I am not moved.

(Say Uncle)


  1. Peggy says:

    You really covered that one.

    I hate it when it becomes the “handgun’s fault”. Please. We are a family of handgun owners and not one of the dozen or so guns we own have ever been used to shoot another person.

  2. SayUncle says:

    Damn, and I thought I was harsh.

  3. Phelps says:

    You also don’t live in a hood where you have to hear this sort of shit all the time too.

  4. Northe says:

    Cogent analysis. I wish they would take away handguns and keep it really real by jousting from the passenger window. That would be sick!

  5. Jenn says:

    WOW! This is THEE exact same thing that happend to my brother just about a week ago.

    He’s at Wal-Mart, some truck stops in the middle of where people HAVE to pass to get to the parking lot, these girls stay there forever. Cars are honking and so on. My brother finally finds a way around them, the girl say’s, “You can fuckin’ wait.” My brother say’s, “Ah, fuck you” drives off and parks.

    He goes in to get flowers for moms birthday and by the time he comes out, there’s some bigass burly guy talking shit to him. The girls yelling that he almost ran over her baby and and all this non-sense.

    Somehow my brother finally gets to his truck and gets in. The guy points a gun and shoots in his direction, managing to put bullet holes in three other cars and not my brothers.

    Cops come, witnesses stay, the manager comes out and tells my brother ‘not to worry, he has everything on tape.’

    This bitch made something into nothing. Someone could have died. She was another Meleia.

    I wouldn’t wish for Meleia to burn in hell, BUT, she got her Karma, ten-fold.

  6. Mexigogue says:

    My ex-wife’s cousin was killed in front of a Lansing nightclub by some jackass who was shooting at another jackass. I’m really mad about it to because that cousin was on my “to-do” list. She left behind like 3 kids I think.

  7. Bingo MacGee says:

    ” jousting from the passenger window”

    As much as I love the idea, these spineless shits wouldn’t have the cumulative testicular fortitude to actually LOOK at someone when using a weapon. Fuck-nuggets like these hydrocephalic mouth breathers assume that since their lives are essentially shit, that they will shit on the rest of the world, even if that includes their own.

    Fuck’em. Death Penalty. Hanging. Public Beheading. Or just let me joust with’em… I’m Celtic by bloodline… Once I knock’em out of the car, I’ll go all Willam Wallace on they ass…

  8. Banana Oil! says:


    Jim Phelps is keeping it real while thumping the LA Times
    David Lynch has a nutty idea for World Peace through Transcendental Meditation. David Lynch with nutty ideas? Who would’ve thought?
    Ready to laugh your arse off? Remember that gran…

  9. That b1tch got her cumuppins!

  10. “Pregnant friend Mercedes Hong”
    You just know Mercedes is her stripper stage name

  11. Jared K says:

    Yeah this Meleia was not really an angel. she stayed high and drunk. She wasn’t to nice to me either. social justice? drugs was her main priority.and gossipping about folks and asknig her potna to pop a bullet at the boys who were calling her bitches? i dont call that social justice. i call it a gangsta party…typical blacks

  12. Phelps says:

    If you think that is typical, you need to meet more black folks. It isn’t typical, and it isn’t black. It is simply thuggish. What is worst is that they are percieved as typical blacks.

  13. you know nothing says:

    you are all sick ignorant dumb fucks, i know every single person involved in this incident and i have NEVER been so offended and taken aback when i read all the comments you said about everyone, you think everything is so black and white? that someone gets shot in berkeley and its becuase there are too many thugs?
    i pity your ingorance, and i would never say what you have said about meleia, chris and even mercedes-about my worst enemy. i dont know how you can live with yourself while you make cruel, uneducated, ignorant, stupid comments about people that you dont even know.
    fuck you from the bottom of my heart
    RIP meleia

  14. Xrlq says:

    So much for Uncly-Wuncly’s theory that nobody fisks anymore.

  15. Phelps says:

    YKN, your judgment in choosing friends is already suspect. You see, none of my friends have ever shot at someone for calling another person a bitch. If they did, I wouldn’t call them my friend anymore. Yes, when someone gets shot for saying something, the person shooting them is a thug. The people who goaded them into it are thugs.

    I don’t know how many thugs there are in Berkeley. I know that there were at least three too many thugs in Berkely, and now two of them are headed for prison and one is in hell. And that is a good thing. Saying that is “cruel, uneducated, ignorant, stupid?” First of all, I don’t think you know what educated means (which is hilarious in itself), but I sure as hell think that shooting at someone for saying a bad word is cruel, ignorant, and stupid. There is nothing that a person could do after that to convince me otherwise.

  16. Mexigogue says:

    Haha! I love how it starts out with I know these people and I’ve never been so offended in my life. Oh, stop the presses! You KNOW these people. So fucking what?? Somebody knew Muhammad Atta too, that don’t make him a good person! Any person who calls for a gunman in response to a verbal offense is ignorant, GPA be damned. Whether or not you knew the bitch notwithstanding.

  17. Jared K. says:

    I fucking agree with mexigogue…just becaues u konw somebody who the fuck cares. that makes meleia a fucking saint…dammit she called somebody to bring the heat. This is a sad incident, and i send my condolescenses to her family, but lets please stop labeling her as a fighter for social justice and daughter of the city. Had she not been an Ivy League student, this woundlt even get press. Call me an insensitive piece of ignorant shit, but those are the facts.

  18. Jared K. says:

    ANd to you don’t know nothing,
    bitch i knew Meleia. So back the fuck off. bitch