By Sherri Kolade
It was supposed to be an uneventful evening 21 years ago. But events took a fateful turn as Josh Landon, 15, his mother and younger sister settled in at their two-story brick home on Mogul Street on the east side of Detroit that evening. Their weekly tradition of watching World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Monday Night Raw” with their cousin Eric was in full effect — he was on his way with snacks from the store.
But Landon’s cousin arrived bloodied, disoriented and shot multiple times.
“I’m putting pressure on his bullet wounds and my mother’s calling 911,” Landon said.
He was shot by someone he randomly encountered after leaving the store. Landon’s cousin is alive today and that near-fatal experience is one of many indelible moments that stayed with the Fox 2 News anchor.
The affable 36-year-old doesn’t let difficult moments get in his way though.
“The experiences I’ve had throughout my life and working in my hometown — it adds another emotion to [my job],” Landon said. “I use those emotions to try to connect with people who feel they don’t have a shot at it. I’m speaking specifically to our brothers and sisters in the African American community who walk out their door and they see what they see in their neighborhood. If I’m strong, you can be stronger.’”
Landon draws his strength with help from his unflappable mother, his community and family. As a Black and Arab American man, that emotional reservoir guides him through challenges. Such as not having his Lebanese father around much in his or his sister’s lives although the door was kept open.
“My mother raised me and my sister as a single parent — waking up at two in the morning to work at Thorn Apple Valley Slaughterhouse on the east side of Detroit, making less than $30,000 a year,” Landon said.
Landon said, however, that his father taught him two major life lessons that he keeps close: “watch your back” and “take care of your work.”
“That’s valuable advice,” Landon said.
Landon’s father taught him the second piece of advice before he passed away last year due to a number of health complications while in the hospital.
Landon said that this year was a turning point for him to fully embrace part of his Lebanese side, especially after he learned of an explosion in August in Beirut.
“When I saw that explosion, it took me back to a night during my father’s final days when he was in the hospital. I just started having all sorts of feelings again about him passing away,” he said. “With everything that’s going on in our country regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and seeing the explosion, I felt it was time to share my story. I see a divide between the Black and Arab American community and this is the time to keep an open mind and bridge the gap.”
Landon, who is connected with his entire African American family and some cousins on his Lebanese side, sees similarities between both groups from good food and music to a strong work ethic and fashion sense.
Landon encourages people to look at the common denominators more.
“We are brothers and sisters in the Arab and Black community and we need to come together closer, especially during these times.”
Landon’s second cousin on his father’s side, Hassan K. Bazzi, 36, of Dearborn, said in a message to The Michigan Chronicle that they’ve grown close since meeting about 18 years ago.
“I met Josh while working at my father’s and uncle’s gas station in Josh’s old neighborhood,” Bazzi said. “One day in the summer, Josh came into the gas station looking for my uncles. I asked who he was and what he needed with them. Josh kindly explained his connection and his father. The two of us shook hands and have been more like brothers ever since. We’ve spent the years getting to know each other and have become closer.”
Longtime friend Elija’Blu Lampkin, 39, of Macomb, grew up in the same neighborhood as Landon and applauds him for bridging the gap.
“It’s something rarely talked about but needed,” Lampkin said. “He’s an inspiration to me because of his character and the principles he stands on. He’s a prime example of not becoming a product of your environment but making your environment a product of you.”