Friday, February 21, 2014

The Lessons I Have to Teach

George Zimmerman walked for killing a young Black man armed with Skittles and tea.  Michael Dunn shoots ten times into a car, feeling threatened by loud music, kills a teen and is convicted only of ATTEMPTED murder.  These stories piled on top of countless others of young men killed while being Black make me understand what James Baldwin meant when he said the following:

It's a dangerous feeling to have the fire of rage stoked within.  And the irony of it is that the more educated I become, the more frustrated and helpless I occasionally feel. The prison industrial complex, the destruction of public education and the criminalization of people of color all continue to  occur with little resistance.  I empathize with those youth who survey the social landscape and decide not to care because they understand that the game is rigged against them.  If I were still a single man, I could easily see making a move as Mr. Baldwin did to another country because this jungle is far from safe.  Thankfully, I'm blessed with a family, and I've got to make sure my boys are equipped to maximize their potential.  My focus on them keeps my inner Incredible Hulk in David Banner mode.  There are too many lessons they need me to teach to let rage get the best of me.

My not-so Lil Man, for all his smarts at seven, struggles with the notion that in the eyes of the world he is not Brown.  Recently we took a field trip to the historic black bookstore, Eso Won Books and I explained that the trip was appropriate given that it's Black History Month.  He replied by asking why it's called Black History Month, when his skin is brown.  I've also had to explain to him that his mother and brother are not peach, but are black like he is.  This empirical evidence that notions of racism and prejudice are the product of nurture not nature leave me no time to wallow in anger.  It's not productive.  I've got to figure out how to equip my boys with an identity where they are both aware of the ignorance prevalent in the world, but hopeful about their potential to be great in it.  I can only hope that I do a good enough job that they become skilled in disarming those who would view them as a threat because of their physique, dress or music.  This is but one of necessary skills of the Black Man survival handbook.  American history has made it crystal clear that it's justice system is not blind enough to protect all of its citizens.  Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and now Jordan Davis have all now paid the ultimate price in teaching us this lesson.

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