Sun Dec 30, 2012, 02:15 PM
Redfairen (1,276 posts)
The fear of young black men
I'm home from a holiday visit with family members who were gathered in Philly, where I shared the joy my cousins have found. They have adopted a young boy out of foster care. He is three, going on four. He is black. He will now have two well-educated middle class parents to raise him. He will live in a "safe" community with them in a mid-west college town environment.
But now that I am home again, I am gripped by melancholy. I cannot avoid my musings—ones that I did not want to share with these two new parents, though I am sure they are just as aware as I am. They are both sociologists and quite familiar with the political and social implications of blackness, or brownness and maleness in our world. They want the best for him, as parents are wont to do. Far easier to smile, hug and imagine a bright future for him.
Three distinct yet entwined themes are twisted in my thoughts this morning. The first thread is Newtown and the immense sadness and outpouring of grief for those lost in our latest national tragedy and shame. The second is the stark reality that every day some young black or brown child will die mourned by only a few, and not as part of a national paroxysm of grief and outrage, but simply missed by family and school friends. They will be, however, equally dead. The third is about fear, and in many ways it is the thread that ties in the other two.
Even "fear" as I think about it has multiple faces. Why do I hear the drumbeat of fear every time we attempt to stir the waters of a national conversation about gun violence? Every time, I hear one more lament about "it shouldn't have happened here," or "why should innocents die in safe communities," I visualize the other side of the coin. The light and the dark, and dark is surely those unsafe mean streets of urban climes filled with crime and drugs and young black and brown men around whom no one is safe and isn't it true that they are always killing each other? They are dangerous thugs and gangsta gang members in hoodies with baggie pants and surely they must be constrained from invading the safe white spaces of America. Even black middle class parents buy that in hopes that an escape to the burbs or a gated community will somehow fade away their blackness into suburban acceptability. It didn't work for Trayvon Martin's parents.
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