Who was Aaron Hawkins?
Well, to begin with, Aaron Hawkins created this blog and web site, Uppity-Negro.com, in 2000. Before that, in 1998, he created the Stone Cold Jane Austen web site, which originally was published via Earthlink, but has been moved here to Uppity-Negro.com intact -- along with the infamous El Gecko!
Above is one of the last pictures taken of Aaron (courtesy of TranceJen) before he died on September 3, 2004. Aaron... desperately hoped the next world held better hopes and dreams for him, and he didn't want to wait any longer to find out if it did -- who among us hasn't felt at one time or another that he no longer has anything to offer this world? As with most other truly brilliant men, his genius was a double-edged sword; the sharp intellect that powered his lively and often shredding wit also nursed a deep and, unbeknownst to us, growing despair within him about his life, a feeling that we'd all assumed was long behind him. We were wrong. Aaron's death was confirmed for us on September 8, 2004.
But Aaron was wrong, too. The pain experienced by our family was absolutely immeasurable, as you would expect. It will never die. But what we couldn't have known, and I don't think Aaron could have possibly guessed or would have even believed, was how his death would affect the so-called "blogosphere" as well. I expected that Aaron's friends who had blogs and, conversely, the blogs of those he considered friends, whether he'd actually physically met them or not, would express grief at his passing. But having one of the oldest blogs on the Internet, combined with having one of the oldest blogs by a Negro/black/African American, combined still more with his having one of the longest blogrolls known to man (and I exaggerate here only slightly!) caused his death to have a ripple effect all over the world (and I exaggerate here not at all). I still thought I knew the size of the grief when Red Herring contacted us, but I was completely floored by the other media outlets who contacted us, including the Chicago Sun-Times. I had my own selfish reasons for wishing Aaron was still here--I loved him, he loved me, he was my brother and best friend--but it was becoming clear that there were hundreds (thousands?) of people who felt the same way, whether they'd personally known him or not. Could a man whose death caused so much sorrow for so many people really be someone who no longer had anything to offer this world?
The maddening game you play with yourself in this kind of death is that you think that if only you'd done this differently or said this in a different way or outright made him do this or that or stopped him from doing this or that, he wouldn't have gone away and done this final, irreversible thing. You know in your heart of hearts it's not true, but you play along anyway. In a sad way, it's its own comfort: "This was what made him do it!" But if a man is walking along a cliff's edge anyway, just because he doesn't jump off this peak doesn't mean he's not going to choose another one up the way.
Aaron touched the lives of so many people, a gift he took for granted. It's kind of like in the movie, It's A Wonderful Life. Like Jimmy Stewart's George had no idea, I think Aaron was likewise unaware of how special that really is and how special he really was. As difficult as getting over my own initial shock and grief have been, it's also been wrenching to hear from old friends and classmates of Aaron's, who had lost touch with him, but, for whatever reason, found themselves thinking of him, blithely did a Google search on his name, and were delivered here, and find out for the first time the stunning news of his death. Very real tears have been shed for this man in all these months after his death and I know that there will be still more. He just wasn't a forgettable person!
Mostly, I consider myself blessed to have known him at all.
-- Valerie Hawkins, 03/27/05 (Easter Sunday 2005)
P.S. Find out more about Aaron at the September 25, 2004 entry, Message from Jessie, Aaron's Mother.
Also, see Aaron's unofficial FAQ from his December 20, 2003 entry, A.I.: His hate is real. But he is not.
And, see the "thank you" letter that appeared in the October 1, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times:
Thank you for the wonderful article ["Fans flood Internet with grief at blogger's death," news story, Sept. 17] regarding my son, Aaron Hawkins. We have been amazed at the impact Aaron's blog and his death has had on the Internet. We cannot begin to express our gratitude to his many readers for the expressions of love and support we have received since his death. I only hope that he knew how much he was loved and respected and how much we all miss him. Again, thank you for the wonderful article. We will continue his blog, uppity-negro.com, as a tribute to him.
Read the complete Uppity-Negro.com blog as created by Aaron Hawkins via the original web archives, starting with the June 15, 2002 entry, The Difference Engine -- which has a back link to the Dale Carnegie gave me a refund entry only because Aaron intentionally falsified the time/date stamp -- and ending with the August 29, 2004 entry, I'm a diplomat. I failed flight school. ALL of the entries after that date come from the family.
Technorati Link Cosmos for the original Uppity-Negro.com September 09, 2004 -
This is the Hardest Thing I've Ever Had to Write Entry
(before the unfortunate site crash and necessary reinstallation)
Thank you, everybody, for your support!