My mind conjures up the image of a young boy. He’s walking along Alameda Street in Las Angeles. Anxious, he looks right and then left as he heads to the local Corner Store for a bottle of Coke. The sound of a police siren nearby.
At ten in the evening, he knows he shouldn’t be on the streets. Then he wonders – why? He makes good grades in school. His daddy works full time at M Plastics, and his mom cleans rooms at the nursing home. Why is he afraid?
Inside the Corner Store, the clerk watches him. Trying his best to look cool, he struts to the back and pulls a Coke from the shelf. One hand clings to his saggy britches as he set the Coke on the counter and reaches for his wallet. The clerk’s eyes squint, ready for him to pull out a gun. He knows this cause he’s seen it too many times. He wants to scream, “I ain’t got no gun, man. I just wanna buy a coke,” but he doesn’t. His daddy told him to keep his mouth shut so he don’t go to jail.
With the coke in hand, he walks nervously out the door, checking both ways, making sure they ain’t no cop lurking, and leaves.
Opening the lid, he takes a swig and sees his brother’s buddy standing on the corner. Cornell shakes hands with another dude that crosses the street and the whirl of a siren’s scream, as lights, blue and red, flash, blinding him. Afraid, he runs.
Every child matters. Black children, Caucasian children, Asian children, and Latin children. Let’s not stop there, there’s more – German, British, Polish, and Russian children, etc. So why does this boy run?
Because dark skin on a dark night has too often led to an arrest.
Past and present societal ignorance has brought us here, where people of color are assumed guilty, rather than presumed innocent. But the innocent are loosing ground to the guilty as more black children turn to crime to survive in a jungle of cement.
I read a moving article in the Time magazine yesterday. The article was written by Michelle Duster, Continuing my great-grandmother’s fight. (Vol. 196, NOS 9-10/2020) Miss Duster’s great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, was a suffragette. Long after women had won the right to vote, Miss Wells continued to fight for the Black women, and founded the Alpha Suffrage Club along with Belle Squire and Virginia Brooks.
This piqued my interest. So, I read more.
A Voice From the South: By a Black Woman From the South was published in 1892, by a highly educated Anna J. Cooper. Miss Cooper believed that black women could improve society’s viewpoint of the African-American community through educational, moral and spiritual progress. Feminist criticized Miss Cooper, since it was against the 19th century cult of true womanhood. Others believed that Miss Cooper had struck true to black feminism.
At 6, Ruby Bridges faced a student body of Caucasians when she attended William Frantz Elementary School, never missing a day despite being the first African-American child to make this frightening walk in life. An amazing lady I’d love to meet. What inspiration she’d reveal about her courage, and how others should overcome fear.
This is only three examples of a massive list of African-American’s who faced life head-on, thriving in adversity and finding success. Was it fair? Wake-up – life isn’t fair.
They chose to be strong, even though they were weak. They faced the world, rather than let anger lead.
With such distinguished ancestors to admire and aspire, why do the Black youth of America so often collapse into self-destructive behavior?
Black pride can be found in hero’s who fought bureaucracy with dignity, not by destruction, hate, and drug money. Don’t be swallowed by poverty and hate, but fight as your forefathers did through education, activism, and pride, allowing your self-confidence to guide you into tomorrow. Instead, fight mind-against-mind and convince yourselves you are worthy.