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The War on Black Men

The knowledge that I live in a culture that is hostile to my existence has been background noise for my entire life. Because, for the most part, I have disregarded that low murmur, I consider myself happy.

What about the time i had to crawl under a car to hide from the rednecks that followed me for five blocks as I walked down the sidewalk? What about the cop who threatened to kill me while I was handcuffed in the back of his patrol car? And the handful of other slights and incidents in the last 40 years? That was the price of admission.

What did I get in return for learning how to compartmentalize these existential threats? I managed to avoid the incarceration industry. I earned a degree, and I lived longer than both my father and grandfather. I have a few gray hairs, a family, and a modicum of wisdom. I am a lucky man.

Clearly, things have chganged. It’s always been open season for black men in America. Now, it’s shameless again. I am an adaptable human being and I am adapting to this radical shift in my environment with a radical shift in posture.

If you come at me, and I don’t know you, I will assume you are hostile to me and my family. As a matter of fact, I’m not waiting for you to come at me. I’m looking for you. When I find you, I will deal with you with no half measures. (Rule #6)

I know this is paranoid. I know this will damage relationships with potential allies. If you can prove me wrong, I’ll apologize, and maybe we can move on to build something. If you are truely an ally, you’ll get it.

There is no longer any room in our lives for softness or willful ignorance.

 

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The last time this happened (Trayvon Martin), there was the typical round of opinionating. The majority of which was noise rather than signal. I did find the conversations about The Talk engaging though. This time around (Jordan Davis), there’s more of the same noise making, but this fantastic post over on Jack & Jill Politics has provoked me in all the best ways.

Let’s bactrack…

First a clarification: the phrase The Talk refers to the conversation adults are supposed to have with black boys about How to Not Get Killed By the Police. (Which seems to be evolving into How to Not Get Killed by Any Random White Man. Did I say evolving, I mean eroding…)

Second, aside from the righteous rage that Anson Asaka levels at a culture that accepts these lynchings as The Way Things Are (Yes, he calls them lynchings and I agree.), I like his suggestion that openly armed black folks would be the end of Stand Your Ground in the state of Florida. I would go a step further and suggest that if black folks in the state of Florida were openly armed, vigilantes and nut-jobs would be less likely to shoot them.

Are those really our choices…prescriptive fear and vengeance? I never got The Talk. The adults around me never advised me to fear the police. It wasn’t until I ended up handcuffed in the backseat of a police car with a cop telling me that my life wasn’t worth a bullet that I fully understood that a cop could take my life whenever he pleased. Imagine walking around with that in your head everyday. Now imagine wondering if any random stranger on the street was capable of gunning you down. That’s what it must be like to live during Open Season. Or, to be a black man in Florida.

Then I wonder about my daughter. What will I teach her, and how will her life contradict those lessons. Honestly, I was so happy when I knew we were having a girl. This is the reason why.

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