AFRICANGLOBE – Are black boys endangered in America?
Yes, I said endangered. Like their lives are threatened, and if there is no immediate action taken, Black boys could one day see their numbers dramatically decreased.
There are many factors that imperil Black boys. The list is long, but here are a few: homicides, aggravated assaults, high incarceration rates and high dropout rates. I’m personally sick of hearing about keeping kids from “falling through the cracks,” because that is not going to be enough to save our children. Our families, schools, communities, states and this nation need to fill in all of those cracks.
MSNBC host and college professor Melissa Harris-Perry said the deaths of Black teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, who was murdered in Florida by a White man because the music was playing too loud in the SUV that Davis was in, have caused her to question if Black boys are safe anywhere.
She penned the following open letter “to whom it may concern” and posted it on her blog:
“It has been barely a year since the killing of Trayvon Martin resurrected that old angst – long buried, but always there just below the surface. You know that feeling. It’s the one that makes us hear about Trayvon, and now Jordan Davis, and reach back across decades into our history, for the name of another boy named Emmett Till . . .
“Because, if you are a young, Black man, who you are is threat enough. And in yet another case, it seems, that perceived threat is justification enough for someone who would play judge, jury and executioner . . .
“Jordan Russell Davis will be laid to rest today . . . The day before he died, his mother says, he gave the Thanksgiving dinner prayer, where he gave thanks for his family . . .
“But before Jordan could be eulogized at his funeral, the defense team for the man who is accused of killing him was already telling a different story about who this young man was. According to police, Jordan and his three friends were sitting in an SUV at a Jacksonville gas station, when Dunn pulled up next to them and asked them to turn down their music. Words were exchanged. This is the story Dunn’s attorney, Robin Lemonidis, about why her client felt threatened:
” ‘He sees that much of a shotgun coming up over the rim of the SUV . . . and all he sees are heavily tinted front windows that are up and the back windows that are down, and the car has at least four Black men in it, and he doesn’t know how old anyone is, and he doesn’t know anything, but he knows a shotgun when he sees one because he got his first gun as a gift from his grandparents when he was in third grade.’
“Police have found no evidence that Jordan and his friends had any weapon in their car. But Michael David Dunn, a registered gun owner, did have one. He used his gun to fire eight rounds into the boys’ vehicle. Two of those bullets struck and killed Jordan Davis . . .
“As we watch the case unfold, let us be sure, while we are watching, that we continue to see in Jordan Davis what Michael Dunn did not – a human being, instead of a threat.
Harris-Perry’s open letter raises good points. I know some mothers who don’t let their boys go out at night out of fear of what could happen to them. I also know that there are still communities today where Black boys are looked at suspiciously just for being there. And we already know about the school-to-prison pipeline (we have metal detectors in 15 of our schools in Milwaukee Public Schools), and as a state we are near the top when it comes to Black male incarceration.
Black boys can succeed. It takes putting the right tools in place, such as having SEED schools and elements such as Urban Prep school, where 100% of its students go to college and graduate from college. It’s not easy, but we know what it takes: committed parents, strong school leaders, safe communities, police and citizens working together and leaders using their bully pulpits to bring it all together.
There are two big problems: There is a lack of real leadership, and there is a belief by some that Black lives are somehow expendable. Things remain the same. There is no public outcry or concern, and we wait. I’m tired, and I can’t do it by myself.
My only question is how many more Trayvons and Jordans do we need to lose before we wake up?
James E. Causey