reasons why simply walking down the street is unsafe…for us.
“This morning I read took the time to read your very moving and personal account of how Black males in this country are oftentimes put under a special microscope because of the color of their skin and oftentimes, just the type of clothing they wear. As a Black male myself, I can personally attest to the times in my life where red flags automatically went up because of the combination of the color of my skin, the type of clothes I wore, and the fact that I have a deeper than average voice.
Both you and I can probably equally share elevator stories, stories of White women picking up their pace in the parking lot when all we are simply trying to do is to get to our car and go home. Then there are the mall cops staring us down, police stoping us because we looked suspicious. I can even recall times when some White people would be startled the moment they heard me speak for the first time due to my low voice. There was even a time I would try to speak softer in order not to startle anyone (I have since grown out of that stage, btw). Yes, as Black men, we have a lot of experiences in common in that department.
Like you, I am also the proud father of a son who seems to get taller and taller every day (we are about the same height). He is such a good young man and one that practically gets along with everybody. As he gets older, I have been dropping hints here and there about being extra cautious in certain situations. But to be honest with you, those situations are very rare for him as the America our parents knew has changed a great deal.
Not too long ago while I was at work, I received a phone call from my wife who was just catching her breath after her and our young daughter ran for their lives. You see they were at a local Atlanta mall and decided to grab a quick snack in the food court. While mommy and daughter were enjoying their perfect afternoon, their conversation was interrupted by what sounded like a series of gunfire. The next thing they knew, chairs were flying and screams could be heard all around them. So my wife grabbed our daughter and ran as fast as they could out of the mall. Thankfully, they made it out safely. When the smoke of the moment cleared, apparently there was a dispute that erupted between a group of young Black males. Although this nightmare was now behind them, I still felt a sense of hopelessness because I was not there for them. So I can only imagine what the parents of Treyvon Martin must be feeling right now. The only difference is that their baby isn’t coming back to them.
Jesse, as someone who is in the media, I’m sure you are aware of the massive killing spree that took place just last weekend in the city of Chicago. 41 people were shot while 8 (some reports have it at 10) people were killed. Many of the victims here were just simply minding their business when suddenly bullets came from nowhere to change many of their lives forever. Some even lost their lives.
Or what about the story of the man who was simply sitting in the van with 3 small Black children when a man in a dark hoodie proceeded to shield spray down this van with bullets. The man in the van did what any responsible man would do, he placed himself in the path of the bullets in order to protect the children. Thankfully, this man, along with the kids survived.
The New York Times recently did a story that addressed the growing shooting wave in the city of Oakland, California where children are oftentimes the victims.
I am also sure you are aware of the ongoing problem in the city of Chicago where bodies are being buried in stacks of 8. Why? Because nobody cares enough to claim them.
No need for me to continue with the examples because their are just enough pages to contain them.
You are absolutely right to suggest that our young Black men are in the crosshairs. But for the most part, it’s not the “Zimmermans” I fear.
Allow me to expose a very open secret. The one of the reasons why most Blacks like you and me have made the decision to move away from the city and to the suburbs (Where the White people are) is for the safety of our family. Although we love our people very much, we also know that in some environments, we can be our worse enemy. White women aren’t the only ones that fear our Black men. Black women will walk just as fast as any White women if they find themselves in a parking lot at night with an unknown Black male. As a strong Black male who can handle myself, I must admit that I also will take a double look if I deem the person ‘suspicious”. And because I live in a place with a large Black population, that person is oftentimes Black. And guess what? I am not the only Black male that unfortunately has to think this way.
Any man that takes the time to train his sons is a true winner in my book. So I truly commend you for doing your part to make a difference for our future generation.
But I have to ask you, what part of your “Black code” protects us from ourselves?”