In the early 70’s I had a young uncle who paid the price for being born Black in America. There were no issues while he was on the basketball court or the football field. The moment his heart was tied to that of a Caucasian girl, however, it all changed. Our grandparents’ home was intentionally set on fire and my uncle died trying to escape. That was in 1973…47 years ago. At that time, our country had come through the Civil Rights Movement having made some progress while recognizing more was needed.
Instead of more progress since my uncle’s murder, it appears our nation is quickly reverting backwards!
Since Trayvon Martin’s murder, I’ve tried to stay relatively silent about social injustices. This certainly is not because I don’t care. I just thought I would fight against them in action versus words. Somehow I convinced myself voting would be enough to fight the injustices continually doled out to people of color, specifically African American men. I thought voting was the most constructive thing I could do. If I voted for those who call out the inequities of our system and those who genuinely make efforts for positive change, we would make progress. Not voting is actually a vote for those who continually protect this unjust system. Well, I’ve learned my lesson this week. Silence and responsible voting are no longer enough.
Our nation has seemingly decided that it is open season on African American men. “Open season” is a hunting term. It means restrictions have been lifted in regards to the hunting of a specific thing. I have purposefully chosen that term for use here. African American men are being hunted down in the light of day. Restrictions on the value of a Black man’s life seemed to have been lifted. Those who perpetrate such egregious crimes against Black men appear to not fear the repercussions. Could this be because they have seen where time and time again there really are no repercussions? How, in the name of Jesus, can this still be happening in 2020?
How, in the name of Jesus, does George Floyd in Minnesota lose his life at the hands of those called to PROTECT and SERVE ALL CITIZENS, especially when the suspected offense is something as petty as forgery?
How, in the name of Jesus, does an officer of the law put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a fully restrained human being and listen to him plead for his life without feeling compelled to stop?
A Black man walking is a threat.
A Black man delivering a package is a threat.
A Black man sitting in his own home is a threat.
A Black man sitting in a coffee shop is a threat.
A Black man, who happens to be Mayor, can’t go into the bank and inquire about his City’s bank account without being deemed a threat.
A Black man bird watching in the park is a threat.
In my young uncle’s case, being a Black man in love with a Caucasian woman was a threat.
I refuse to keep this list going. It’s infuriating. I am a woman of faith but I am a woman none the less. My family is full of Black men.
My 79 year old father is a Black man. He goes fishing by himself. He’s been fishing since he was 4 years old. It’s what he loves to do.
My brother is a Black man. He loves photography. It’s his passion and it’s taken him all over the United States and around the world.
My nephews are Black men; some of whom are in mixed-race marriages.
My male cousins are Black men in various professions and entrepreneurial endeavors.
My daughter’s father is a Black man. He enjoys a good game of golf.
My brothers-in-law are Black men. One works in law enforcement.
My only remaining uncle is a retired Black man. He comes and goes as he pleases because…well, he’s retired!
As of a month ago, I have a beautiful grandson. He’s too young right now for us to know what his interests, talents, or profession will be. But we do know one thing; he will be a Black man!
I sincerely feel compelled everyday now to pray for the Black men in my life:
for my Dad’s safety when he goes fishing
for my brother when he goes out to photograph people, places, events, and nature
for my nephews when they go out to dinner with their mixed-race families
for my cousin when he is at the restaurant he owns late at night
for my daughter’s father while he plays golf
for my brother-in-law as he tries to uphold the law but surely may be seen as a threat – a Black man with a gun
for my retired uncle that he can come and go around town as he so chooses
for my grandson that he will not be a Trayvon Martin
I really need to know. Do Caucasian women have these worries about the men in their lives? Do Asian women share these concerns about the men in their lives? Do Hispanic mothers feel the need to pray for the men in their lives every day? Do these other women ever wonder if, when the men in their lives walk out the front door, they may not see them alive again?