SCARED BLACK BOYS GROW UP TO BE ANGRY BLACK MEN: LIVING WHILE BEING BLACK
As a woman I wouldn’t pretend to know what it feels like to be a black little boy. I don’t know what it’s like to be a child and be seen as the “enemy.” A child poses no threat to anyone. How could this be? We didn’t just wake up and Black men became an endangered species. They’ve been walking around with a target on their back a long time. My Father has since passed away, but he was light enough in complexion that as a three year old I remember asking him if he was white. Remember at this age what my frame of reference would be. I have two half-brothers that have their own issues. Daddy would to tell me that I had the best Mother and I didn’t need him as much. It hurt my feelings, but now I see what he meant.
I have one brother who became a father early on. I don’t capitalize father when there are issues attached. I have two nieces that have serious issues with life due to his lack of parenting. He has other children, but I lost count a long time ago and have never had any contact with his other children. The youngest James Jr., took care of our Father until his death four years ago. Our Father died of cancer, but had some mental issues that weren’t diagnosed until later in life. Unfortunately, my little brother got caught in a trick bag. He is currently doing 30 years in a federal prison for drug charges. What a waste. I only found out because my Mother accidently found the information on the internet.
As an Instructor for a Career Development Program I had the privilege and daunting task of recruiting students for the program. In the end there were many students that received the opportunity to go to college as a result. I had one student in particular that really had to work diligently to even graduate high school. All the odds were against him. I’m not saying that my other students didn’t have issues, but he sticks out because he had no support system. He had a mother that always seemed to choose her boyfriends over him. One minute he had a place to live; the next he had nowhere to go. Although he never had a stable place to stay he managed to attend school every day and the after school program. He scored highly on the ACT exam and participated in ROTC. Unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of Black students are targeted for the military, and it starts with ROTC. When he was close to graduation every military branch tried to recruit him. I literally got on my hands and knees and begged him not to enlist. He had full scholarships at several universities, but had been convinced that he would be guaranteed all this money for his education through the military. Why are we always part of the “economic recruitment?” We make hard choices when our money is funny. Thank GOD he didn’t enlist.
I had another student who I see as a son. He managed to make it to Grambling and is now a husband and proud Father. He also has a wonderful Mother who doesn’t play. Being a Black boy makes you a precious commodity. You can be as clean-cut as they come, but people have stereotypes that continue to cloud their judgment. Straight A student, Black skin, Black man…not an innocent child. College graduate and they still see a thug. Model citizen and they see a hood who would rob them. I know people have talked about Trayvon Martin’s manner of dress contributing to his death, but it didn’t matter. Anyone of color who has been dressed to the nines and still gotten the disapproving looks knows what I speak of. You could wear an Armani suit and the reaction would be, “Who does that nigger think they are wearing a suit like that? How’d they afford that suit? They must have stolen it.”They question where you’re going, or if you have somewhere to go. Have a job? You couldn’t possible own the company.
Years ago I learned about the “Black Tax.” We all know it exists, but you need to double that “Black Tax” when you’re a Black male. It’s a proven fact that poor people are charged more for all goods and services. Gas prices are a perfect example. Everyone knows you don’t buy gas, or even groceries in the hood. You’re being overcharged. When it costs you so much to maintain you can never get ahead.
In case you don’t know the definition of “Black Tax” it is the fact that you have to be 20 times better than your counterparts to receive the same job or the same benefits. It also applies to the fact that all goods and services cost more for those of color.
February 26th I lost a child. A child that was full of possibilities and potential. Who knows what he could have done. It’s not justice when it’s just us. I will be at peace when my sons can stop being scared and can grow up without fear to be the strong Black men that they are. None of my children died today. “Today was a good day.” ~ Ice Cube
“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.” ~John Donne