The case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin will undoubtedly be one for the books. Like the case of Emmitt Till, like the case of Sean Bell, like the case of Oscar Grant III and many other cases of African American men who were/are/will be profiled, judged, and attacked based on looks and/or race alone, this case seems to the be one that has almost the whole nation fed up in its results.
While many are ready to hit the streets with signs, shouts, and words of anger that have riled up for the past year, many are trying to remain peaceful. Many are hoping that, though we shouldn’t be surprised, if anyone is, this should not only keep them aware, but it should also give them a reason to use their voice. This case has touched the hearts of parents everywhere, specifically African American parents, who are raising sons in a country where they won’t be helped or saved. The same country in which they are born in, served their time to defend, and have contributed to its beautiful diversity. The country that praises freedom, yet keeps women and people of color on their toes.
One of the biggest questions asked is, “How exactly are we supposed to tell our sons, cousins, nephews, grandsons, and brothers about a case like this without scaring them? Without thinking that, at the age of 7, that the police won’t help you the way they should because of your color?” A tough question to answer?
Not so much. Well renown journalist and author of “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now,” Touré Neblett wrote an article for TIME Magazine a month after the shooting took place. In it, the article illustrates 8 points that could be said to African American boys who have yet to understand the trials and errors of growing up Black in the United States, in hopes that it’ll keep them aware.
“Being black could turn an ordinary situation into a life-or-death moment even if you’re doing nothing wrong,” he points out in his first piece of advice. “If you encounter such a situation, you need to play it cool. Keep your wits about you. Don’t worry about winning the situation. Your mission is to survive.”
Toure continued to forewarn his readers with other pieces of advice, such as making allowances for other people’s racism, or to retreat when approached and probed by officers (he stresses to these young black men that they are trying to survive in a world that does not want them to). But if there’s on thing to truly appreciate about his 8 notes is note #3:
“There is nothing wrong with you. You’re amazing. I love you. When I look at you, I see a complex human being with awesome potential, but some others will look at you and see a thug — even if their only evidence is your skin.”