The prevailing thought on my mind – aside from “I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful” playing on repeat in my head in Drake’s voice – is “open season.” Open season is a term that comes from hunting. It is a period when it is legal for hunters to hunt and kill a particular species.
I replay those two words over and over again and I shake my head at the fact that it appears to be open season on black men in this country.
I think about the unbelievable courage that it takes to be a black man and how scary it must be to raise a black man and the thoughts that I have are so overwhelming that I decide to think about something else and keep it light. I’m using this blog post today to focus my thoughts and to pay homage to the black man and the struggle that he faces on a daily basis. To be clear I know that my race has advanced by leaps and bounds. The President is black. However black men and women are waging a war on the ground, a battle to stay alive.
I love the black man, I value the black man, and I’ve had nothing but examples of strong black men in my life.
I do realize that there are black men and young black boys out there that make poor decisions – a la stealing from convenience stores or even seeming to approach cops with what may or may not be perceived as a concealed weapon – but how many white men or white young boys live to tell of their poor decisions? How many white men or white young boys get to look back on that robbery or break in, or that time they pointed a bb gun at the cop and fired (see picture) and get to chuckle at how wild and crazy they were in their youth?
This discrepancy in treatment is a shameful despicable thing, however it is very real and it is something that we as black people need to understand. It is the civil rights issue of our time.
It is a thought that will bring you to your knees if you really stop to think about it and the thought is this – white boys can make mistakes in the eyes of the law and live to tell about them, black boys cannot.
And here’s the thing, and I’ll preface this with the admission that I don’t have chick nor child as the old folks would say but I will say this, it would seem to me that if you are raising a young black boy in this country and you are not teaching him the fact that white boys can make mistakes and live to tell about them and that black boys cannot – then you are doing that young black boy a disservice.
When I started driving at 16 my father – as ambiguously racial as he can seem at times (we got pulled over by the cops on a family road trip to Nashville Tennessee and the cop marked my father’s race as white, I digress) – told me that when an officer approached my car I was to have my window rolled down, I was to have both hands on my steering wheel and that I was to get the officer’s approval on every subsequent move. As clear as day I can remember my father telling me to keep my hands on the wheel while asking…
“May I reach in my wallet, sir?”
“May I reach in my glove compartment, sir?”
Let me be clear in saying that this is what I was taught. A skeptical, mild, and overly respectful approach to officers, however that is not what all black people are taught, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be murdered for it.
If I could speak to the police as a collective I would ask – can you please not murder black boys or black men, execution style, simply because they are black and you might be scared of their unforgivable blackness, sir?
These black lives are not yours to take.