Friday, March 23, 2012

Advice for young black boys after Trayvon Martin killing

I read a lot - books, articles, magazines, newspapers and journals - but few writings have evoked my emotions like a piece writing by Touré, published on TIME Ideas on 21 March 2012. The well-written piece titled: "How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin" was written following the killing of Trayvon Martin and provides advice to young black boys.

You've probably heard about Trayvon Martin (see picture) -  a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager shot dead on his way from a convenience store by a volunteer watchman in a neighborhood in Sanford Florida. According to the watchman, George Zimmerman, 28, Martin looked suspicious and "up to no good". The shooter claimed self-defense after the killing and he has not been arrested or charged. Inaction by the Sanford Police Department sparked protests and allegations of racism and discrimination in law enforcement.

"How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin" contains 8 points about the "potentially fatal condition of being black". The first point reads as follows:

"It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition. I tell you that not to scare you but because knowing that could save your life. There are people who will look at you and see a villain or a criminal or something fearsome. It’s possible they may act on their prejudice and insecurity. Being black could turn an ordinary situation into a life-or-death moment even if you’re doing nothing wrong."

The 8 talking points highlight potential dangers of being a young black man.

It is a shame that we - people of African descent - a people with a long history of discrimination, disenfranchisement, inhuman treatment and other forms of untold human rights violations - continue to feel threatened by racism and suffer prejudice and unequal treatment in modern-day societies - because of skin color. Many of us are law abiding citizens with a lot of potential, but to racist and prejudiced eyes, we are "less human, less valuable, less worthy, less beautiful, less intelligent". We all know this is not true.

A 17-year-old unarmed teenager just lost his life because he looked suspicious. As of the time of this writing, his shooter has not been arrested or charged - even though he is known and within reach. There is no denying the fact that any black kid could be a Trayvon Martin.

The authorities must investigate what happened in that neighborhood in Sanford Florida on 26 February 2012 and bring the shooter to book. Failure to arrest and prosecute George Zimmerman for the killing of an unarmed teenager will make a mockery of justice, the rule of law and civil rights in the the U.S. and beyond.

*Photo source: The Guardian.

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