How often as young Black men growing up, were we warned that we must be extra careful and be mindful of not doing anything that would bring unnecessary attention to us? As young men, we often felt this was an over played recording. Even at times felt it was unnecessary, until it happened. It isn’t enough for parents to be worried about their boys hanging around unsavory peers in undesirable environments. There was the added worry of excessive abuse and treatment from racist law enforcement agents toward their children (especially young Black men).
Studies and surveys have shown time and time again, that Black men are unnecessarily targeted and often abused by law enforcement agencies. One can only imagine the countless tears and prayers of Black parents (especially mothers and grandmothers) who spent sleepless nights awaiting the safe return of their young boys during the night. While all races may share concern for their young children, unfortunately Black young men seems to be disproportionately targeted by law enforcing officers who are supposed to be protecting them.
Some would liken the atmosphere to it being open season on young boys of color. It only awakens one to the reality that racism and injustice are running rampant. It seems to be systemic. This unwarranted abuse and treatment is a played out card that has resurfaced continuously since slavery, Jim Crow times, and segregation. There seems to be flagrant disregard for the humanity and rights of people of color. Many would argue that racism and discrimination are systemically engrained in all facets of our society. This is only made apparent when the White culprit of a heinous and brutal attack or murder of a young Black man is often sheltered and protected by the system that would look to literally hang a Black if the situation was reversed.
The truth of the matter is that Blacks are looking for equality and justice in a bias society that seems to cater to our White counterparts. Many Blacks want to believe that times have changed for the better and that racism doesn’t exist or is overrated—until their child becomes a victim of discrimination or abusive treatment by law enforcers. Contrary to media stereotypes, all Black boys are not villains waiting to rob, attack, or shoot someone. Even when approached for an alleged crime, do Black young men have to be excessively manhandled or even killed?
The Black community does not condone crime and feels that there should be consequences fairly enforced for all, regardless of one’s race, creed, status. No one ethnic group should be unfairly targeted. However, one cannot deny that there are laws and practices that put Black boys at a disadvantage.
The judicial system must take a large portion of the blame on how young boys of color are treated differently from their White counterparts. The insensitivity of many policies and practices taught to officers by law enforcing agencies should be revisited and changed.
Some would argue that relentless protest and anger should be the norm for any Black killed by another Black—that national attention should not just focus on deaths when a White is the undisputed killer. Any senseless death should provoke rage regardless of race.
The senseless deaths of Blacks should not be trivialized under any circumstance. While our rage about another senseless death such as Michael Brown’s is warranted, the Black community must work individually or as a united group to teach our children to value and respect the lives of those who look like us. We, as African Americans, have an arduous task of deprogramming more than 300 years of systemic psychological hate for each other orchestrated by those who sought to oppress us. Let’s get busy bringing light to the real culprit. America must address its stance on racism.