Do white fathers or elders have “The Talk” with their younger ones? Not The Birds & The Bees. The talk about how to handle yourself in a world designed to oppress you. The “You have to be twice as good as them and triply as humble” talk. The tutorial on how to act when you’re around them in close quarter situations. “The police might not always be on your side” talk.
What’s it like to be a Black teen and grow up in a world where footage of real black men being wrongly shot and killed by policemen is sandwiched between sneaker release tweets and NBA highlights your Instagram timeline? I’ll have to ask my brother soon. He’s in high school now, months away from turning 16. Does he see how the police and justice system treats and conditions us?
I feel bad saying this, but nowadays I have an unfortunate thought when a Trayvon or Eric or Sandra or an Alton happens:
What did the victim do wrong? Not what did the criminal policeman do! The victim should have known better than to trifle with a white cop. Did they talk back? Did they resist? Didn’t they know the game’s rigged? Once they’ve got you in their sight, in their clutches, on their minds even, it’s time to get “Yes, Sir”-“No, Sir” respectful. Hands up, knees down subdued. You might make it out alive. Maybe. Did they know? I assume No.
When the odds aren’t in your favor, the goals shift. Instead of winning (being in a world where cops see more Wrong and Right than Black and White), you pray that you’ll simply survive (live through the grim reality that officers might kill you, so be subservient and hollow yourself of pride). It’s a shame.
I want to say something resolute. Something defiant. Uplifting. I’ll always be a proud Black man. I’d never trade places with another. But it’s not a fun day to be one of us.