CAPEHART / WASH. POST: "One of the burdens of being a black male is carrying the heavy weight of other people’s suspicions. One minute you’re going about your life, the next you could be pleading for it, if you’re lucky. And far too many aren’t. That’s why the the Feb. 27 killing of Trayvon Martin has black parents around the country clutching their sons a little closer. By all accounts, Trayvon was a good kid. He helped his father coach Little League. He had dreams of becoming a pilot. He was good at math. The Orlando Sentinel said that Trayvon’s English teacher described him 'as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.' And now he’s gone because, as Charles Blow wrote on Saturday, 'a man with a gun and an itchy finger' found Trayvon 'suspicious.'" »
My brother’s story bears repeating: Cops once took him to jail for being in his own (predominately white) neighborhood when he walking home from his part-time job one summer. He told them that our parents were at home (just around the corner) and could verify that he lived there, but they took him to jail instead … where he was not allowed to make a phone call for hours. A neighbor, who had apparently not received the memo that black folks had moved in around the corner, had called the police because she saw a young, black man walking down the street.
And that is really all it takes to get your black ass killed in the “greatest country on earth”.
Okay, compared with Trayvon Martin, I suppose you could say my brother was “lucky”—he is, after all, still alive—but that’s setting the bar a bit too fucking low for my tastes.
This whole thing is so upsetting. It’s upsetting because we know it too well, just like the situation with your brother. Just the existence of blackness is enough to cause alarm. I’ll never forget the day my sister called to have their chandelier fixed. The repairman came to the house and started questioning my sister, asking if she lived there, demanding to see the owner of the house. The fucker couldn’t believe a black person lived in Bernardsville, NJ. I guess she broke in, and hung up pictures of herself and assorted black people all over the house. That’s what burglars do. Of course she told him off. The audacity of that man.
The more I think about it, the more my blood boils. This burden of suspicion. It’s a heavy burden to always carry. It’s always there, and you’re always deemed guilty first. I even get pissed at terminology like “unarmed black male” whenever the narratives of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and the countless others who were murdered are told, as if the default black male is armed with deadly weapons. They were murdered.