When my mom first told me she was a lesbian, I was 16 years old and in my Junior year of high school. I remember she asked my older sister and me to come into the living room because she wanted to talk. She looked so serious and slightly concerned that my best guess was that she was pregnant. Clearly, I was off the mark. When she hesitantly told us her news, I think part of her was expecting us to be upset, despite knowing she raised us to react better than that. Perhaps she recognized there’s a difference between teaching your kids to be tolerant and actually being the person they need to “tolerate”.
White Mississippi teenager Deryl Dedmon has been sentenced to life in prison for murder and committing a hate crime, after running over 49 year-old James Craig Anderson with a pickup truck.
As you may recall, Dedmon and some friends were out partying last June 26th when he got the bright idea of hunting down a black person to harass. They stumbled upon James Anderson at a gas station and beat him mercilessly, before Dedmon hopped back into his truck and ran him over, killing him.
When Sybrina Fulton, proclaimed, “our son is your son,” to the crowd of protestors in Manhattan’s Union Square, she was speaking to the parents in the audience, she was speaking to humanity. Fulton and her ex-husband Travis Martin traveled to New York City from Sanford, Florida where their son, Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead on February 26th by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watchman.
The Million Hoodie March, the rally held in response to the recent murder of the Florida teen displayed the growing frustration among New York City residents, many still angered by the police murders of young men such as Sean Bell, 23 and Bronx teen, Ramarley Graham, 18. Like Martin, both young men were unarmed. And in both instances, police went unpunished. Zimmerman, an armed civilian, who claimed self-defense, still remains free. Sanford police continue to come under fire for a series of miscues such as the delayed release of the 911 recordings, correcting a witness’ account of the shooting, sending a narcotics officer to a homicide, and failing to test the shooter for drugs and alcohol.
This period of time is very telling for the future trajectory of America. In the last decade, we’ve seen the murder of countless unarmed, innocent Black men and women in cities all over the United States. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit. We’ve lost the precious lives of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Devin Brown, Amadou Diallo, 7 yr old Aiyana Jones, James Deon Lennox, Imam Ameen Abdullah, 73 year old Bernard Monroe, and recently, Trayvon Martin.
All of these created some local buzzes, but seldom brought about the widespread outrage to demand justice, value or respect for Black communities and families. The case of 17 year old Trayvon and the shrouding in White silence of alarming. Let’s continue to encourage our fellow people to be brave, to have compassion, and to speak unapologetically against the toxic nature of racism and its impact on our society.
Why do issues in America matter only when White people choose to popularize and commodify them?
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, a brand new op-ed from filmmaker Mary Morton asks the all-too-important question; When will we listen to Black Youth?
There are many wonderful and thoughtful individuals and organizations that are working every day towards the liberation of young Black people. We know that our youth are suffering under the weight of overt and systemic oppression. They need our love, and they need our support and advocacy.
But they also need to be heard.
I want to start by apologizing to you. This is not the world I wanted you to be born into by any means. Your life won’t be easy and no amount of my love can change the way people will see you. And for that I apologize. I never wanted this for you.
I can only hope that my love is enough to guide you through a world that is ill-prepared to deal with you. I can only hope that my guidance is enough to make up for teachers and an education system that are ill-equipped to prepare you for the world that awaits you. I can only hope that the people who inhabit said world are prepared to accept you and what you offer, that they can see you and the things that you offer, that they see past the color of your skin when making judgments of your character.
A recent study out of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that people are less inclined to donate money to charitable organizations that help Black youth.
Though very young Black children receive enthusiastic support from charitable donors, that enthusiasm simply disappears once they reach they’re teenage years, and negative stereotypes of Black youth (as lazy, unreliable, stupid, etc.) kick in.
“For Charles Gallagher, chair of LaSalle University’s sociology department, the study’s findings ring true. ‘The perception is that being a drug-dealing thug is the norm,” he says. “Given this belief, individuals may be more willing to give money to children rather than teens because the thinking might be it’s too late to turn the [black] teens’ life around, while supporting young children can make a great difference.'”
A republican who goes by Alan B. Wiliams decided to use lines from Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” recently. Something of a rapture has happened in Hip-Hop: no one can deny that any reference to an emcee’s lyrics (to inform policy) means that the realities of disadvantaged America are being represented. More importantly, the decision to include Hip-Hop lyrics in the discussion symbolizes the relevance and responsibility of the emcee.