It doesn’t matter what age you are or if you are poor or rich when you are a black man. We are all seen as a criminal, a thief, a drug addict or just worthless. Even if you are a doctor, a lawyer, a minister, an actor, a teacher or a Communications Project Manager like me. We are all seen the same whether or not you believe it or not.
This week, I decided to wear a sweatshirt hoodie that says Don’t Shoot every single day to encourage discussions with other Black people. My partner created it several years ago as a way to keep me alive whenever I leave the house and may be killed. It’s not about making money to sell the sweatshirt, but about saving lives.
To my surprise, people have stopped me on the streets, especially Black women, to share their feelings and concern about our black boys and girls. Soon, it will include young Latino boys too. Mothers are approaching me and crying asking what they should say to their 13 and 14-year-old sons.
Tough looking skinheads are approaching me and giving me the thumbs up or a pat on my back expressing concern for my life. The latest actions and murders by police officers in this country are devastating and bring tears to my eyes and also anger.
The shooting of a young man in Sacramento has caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety. Without totally understanding it all, I find myself slipping into a state of anger. Firing at an unarmed man 20 times is really unnecessary.
The killing of black and brown people in America seems to go unpunished, especially if it's by the so-called frightened cops with guns. Usually there is no jail sentence for the killers, but instead a bonus of time off with pay as the punishment. Hooray!
From the time I was able to attend school, around 5 years old, I was harassed by police even while walking to school or waiting to take a bus to school. It was always the same comment that I looked like someone that had just robbed a liquor store or a local convenience store. The day always ended with detention for being late and then the drama would start again on the way home. Unfortunately, the saga continues in America.
Will this ever stop, probably not? It has been going on as long as this country has been a country. Having a racist and incompetent President as we have today has given people the right to be racist, to hate immigrants or anyone who is not white.
According to the Washington Post in 2017, over 987 people were killed by police officers in the United States. Of that number, 223 were African American and 179 were Latino/Hispanic. Fifteen were killed in California. (https://wapo.st/2l4FQE5)
In 2018, the Washington Post also stated that 351 people were killed by police officers in the United States. Of that number, 68 were African American and 38 were Latino/Hispanic. Thus far, 38 of those were in California. It's still early yet. (https://wapo.st/2r3dkqW)
My goal is to start conversations in communities of color on the topic of what to say to our black and brown boys to keep them alive. I am starting with community-based organizations, hair salons, barber shops, and faith-based institutions. I am willing to go wherever people congregate together.
As a result of the push from community members, I am in the process of developing a training design to help parents and grandparents to talk to their children about being safe on the streets, in their cars, and on public transportation.
I would love to connect with others to strategize and set up a forum for families to talk about their concerns and then organize to create change.
Please take a short survey titled "Protect Our Black and Latino Children". Your feedback is important and will help me to empower communities that need it the most.
I really want to hear your creative ideas. Interested, let’s connect. Thank you.