Our Poor Black Men

The world has come a far way.

From caves to palaces, slavery to freedom, segregation to unity. I would say equality but Iiving in a capitalist society does not afford such luxury.

There are so much remnants of the past that continue to linger in our present state, casting doubts in our institutions, in the way we see each other and the way we treat each other.

Our black men have continue to live the tale of freedom intertwined with negation, distress, violence and even death.

It is never so easy to understand someone, their experiences and life challenges. Despite this difficulty, we can draw on a series of events that are responsible for the lives our black men have lived and the things they have endured-Slavery and Environment.

Slavery has gifted us with racism, segregation and inequality. Although the latter two are no longer the foundational principles on which our society, and even the world, operates, there is an ever present trait of segregation and inequality bottled up in our stereotypical dispositions of certain races.

Environment, on the other hand, is pretty straight forward.

There is a saying that children are a product of their environment. And since children grow to become adults, adults are also a product of their environment. Give and take that roughly about 10% of us escape being replicas of our environment, the rest of us are living breathing testimonies of where we grew up and how we were raised.

Let me include some statistics to help bring across the point I am trying to make.

“About 62.9% of black children whose families were in the bottom fourth of all families by income remained in the bottom fourth as adults and only 3.6% of black children from the bottom fourth made it to the top fourth of the income scale, an upward mobility rate about one-fourth the rate for whites” (The State of Working America).

It is then clear that a large percentage of the black population is predisposed to continue living in poverty. And we all know that with poverty comes certain attributes: lack of education, poor/no health care, emotional and physical abuse, distress, gangs, violence, and high crime rate, to name a few.

The lives some of our black men have lived as children are responsible for the paths some of them have chosen and even unintendedly tumbled upon.

This statement is purely factual and not an excuse for certain illegitimate acts that have been committed by our black men.

Society, however, has long dictated the countless odds that are suppose to be stacked against our black men.

Stereotypes have become the new order of the day for our social institutions and some citizens of our society. We no longer open our hearts and minds to the possibility that some black men are good and are capable of being model citizens.

Instead we take a look from miles away or we hunt them down like dogs in the streets, solely based on some ill-conceived notions we have in our minds of who our black men are and what they will do.

Black men such as The Central Park 5, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Ahmaud Arbery to name a few are living, and mostly dead, examples of how brutal, discriminatory and unjust society is to our black men.

Mothers with black sons worry about their future and the ability to safely protect them in a society that is riddled with judgements and act mostly on stereotypical expectations. It is heart-wrenching to know that as your black sons grow there is an escalating imminent vulnerability that grows with them. A vulnerability that is based on the color of their skin.

We attach racism to slavery. And the end of slavery and later segregation, should also initiate the end of racism. But the things we witness, hear and live in our present day paradigm echo that our social institutions, and society at large, are still guilty of racial profiling.

But before I go, I want you guys to think about who make up our social institutions and society.

If we should strip our schools, religions, communities, judicial systems and so on of their names, we would be left with only the living souls that comprise these institutions.

The point is we should not cast doubts and blames on society and social institutions as if they are entities separate and apart from us- without us they would have been hollow embodiments.

Therefore the issue is us.

It is not the police force that harms our black men but it is the police officers who make judgement calls based on stereotypes and their racist nature. It is not society that harms a poor black man jogging in his neighborhood but it is individuals who are filled with hate, ill-conceived ideas and feel threatened because the jogger committed the crime of being black.

I can never understand how someone can be hateful solely on the premise of someone sounding different and looking different than them.

The fact is evil comes in every color, gender and sex. So do not spend your time singling out persons based on physique. Let us take up the mantle of giving the benefit of the doubt, of trying to know someone based on who he/she is and not based on stereotype and most importantly we should stop making judgement calls that are based on race.

Instead we should open our hearts and see the beauty in others.

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