What I say as an old black man, I say in truth, sincerity, and love.
When 17-year old Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a vigilante neighborhood watchman, something woke up young Afrian-Americans. What I am seeing and hearing from these youth is the same thing that I experienced when I was a 9-year old child and I got the news of Emmitt Tills’ murder in 1955.
Like a sleepy-headed youngster rudely awaken from a dream-world reality, my eyes were forced open to a new reality that I had never contemplated. I was a black kid in a segregated America, and some people hated me for no other reason than the color of my skin. I was as heartbreaken as Toxie in that unforgettable movie that made me cry my eyes out. In that movie, Toxie discovered the same sad lesson about being black and hated for no reason,except that she was black.
But hip-hop hood rats disdain the teachings about the old days of segregation, lynchings, and civil rights marches. Suddenly today, it hits home, like a dash of ice water in the face. Black boys are particularly hated and stereotyped, and people ignited with color-aroused prejudices will shoot them dead on the streets, for no other reason than the color of their skin.
A young black man, wearing a hoodie, looks like a "menace", they say. But to whom do they look a menance, except to someone aroused and incited by skin color? It is confirmation that they never really accepted the black hip-hop generation and its thug imagery.
But hip-hop never knew that there were sick people out in society who would will shoot them dead, without mercy, at the drop of a hat pin, just because of the way they look.
Mama and Daddy tried to teach them about this old obsolete concept of "racism", which went in one ear and out the other, because they are deluded by its relative dormancy into believing it was non-existent in these times. And, Mama and Daddy were no help in sheltering them from the harsh, cold realities behind the screens and phoney masks. Things could not be as bad in race relations as in their own day.
Several black parents from around the country, has said since, that this shooting of this young 17-year old black kid, resurrected their greatest fears, a secret that they had kept hidden in the family closet of skeletons: That there were psychos lurking out there in society who felt intimidated and threatened by their very presence, by their mere existence. And, sometimes these psychos do go off, especially where circumstances are murky and the law is quiet unsure and there's no living witness around to testify... reminiscent of the back roads of Mississippi, where only God knows the brutal torture and death of three civil rights workers.
Circumstances and times change, but attitudes rarely. Given a dark, moonless, rainy night in Sanford, Florida, couched under a hoodie from the element, Trayvon Martin dashed his way down to the local convenience store to get some candy and ice tea. Little did he know that evil lurked in the dark with suspicious eyes.
Trayvon Martin was in George Zimmerman's cross-hairs.
I remember the words of Toxie in that movie so long ago that made me cry like I never cried before. In that unforgetable movie, the little colored girl had been adopted by a white family, who wanted to give her a decent upbringing. Then one day, on Toxie's birthday, the white family invited all their families and friends to the birthday party. There were no other coloreds invited.
Toxie turned six years old, the same as me, a big boy old enough to sit in a moviehouse all alone.
But the little white kids treated Toxie so badly at her own birthday party that I cried my eye out for Toxie and with the young actress. To top it, one especially cruel little white girl took a chocolate cupcake and taunted Toxie until the little colored girl could not hold back her tears.
When the adopted parents asked Toxie why she was crying at her own birthday party, when she should be all happy and gay, Toxie asked: “Why do they hate me because I am so black?”
Wow! It was an odd of way saying something she could not understand. I never will forget, as big a boy I thought I was, I walked out the movie with eyes full of tears, and my brand new jacket left behind on the seat where I sat.
The movie ended with no answer to Toxie's question; then came the lynching of Emmit Till, and I asked myself the same question.
But the rest is history of an old black man, of times past, oblivious to today. And, I think, when I condemn hip-hop in “sagging pants”, I could have warned them that the gangster thug image could get them killed.
Why do they want to look and dress like they are so big-and-bad tough? But that’s looking at it through a grandfather’s eyes.
Youth are correctable, if the Lord gives us a chance to mold them into men. But this society will not allow us to teach and train them to grow up to be men, because they take their lives, from our control, at a very young age. They, however, cannot train them up to be men- men of strength, honor, and integrity- rulers of empires- leaders among men.
If they think it is not racial favoritism, just watch how many white people hire white people, at the exclusion of blacks, and how quickly they rise up the corporate ladder. High unemployment among young black men is the result of the same attitude behind the Trayvon shooting. They routinely reject young black men in employment, in competitive job positions, favoring white candidates of equal or less skill sets.
Blacks are placed in positions of inferiority by design, office without windows, titles without meaning.
These are systematic rejections and retardation in self-development that we call Racism, never being able to catch up, from a behind the line start and no inheritance in the land, never being equipped with the education and skills for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, being asked to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, with our hands cuffed behind our back, and a criminal record in our future. A young black man, with a hoodie over his head, looking as suspicious as a crime waiting to happen, his future cut off, never rising to be his true potential, but going down in the dust as a suspect of nothing more that the color-aroused stigma.