The Assault on Black Men in AmericaAug 12, 2013. Written by Deborah Collage Grison
For many years, but especially recent months, I have watched and listened with disbelief, horror and rage at the many things that have happened and are happening to and with our black men, especially our black boys; from sagging pants, wayward, disrespectful, violent behavior; to their nonchalant attitude for human life and the complete disregard for, to and about their own; to the great loss of their lives in mass numbers. Not ALL black boys or black men are this or these categories. This is not to add to the already, distorted, wounded and hurt image of the black male presence. On the contrary. It is to put a point on what they, and by biological kinship and spiritual connection, us as black women are up against regarding a system that was designed, fueled and perpetuated by racism.
I feel it necessary to put all of my cards on the table here and state that while I am yet A BLACK WOMAN, I am not a biological mother to any children. However, I have mothered, nurtured, mentored, influenced, inspired and been inspired by many black men and boys throughout my time spent as a social worker, social action advocate and as a college educator for 20+ years. It is with these many observations, experiences and a sincere heart for my brothers in mind that I address a particular matter of concern; that being the killing of black men in America; particularly our young black brothers. I am not a proponent of excuse making or for blaming “the white man,” or the “establishment” for anyone’s problems, downfalls or mess ups in life, as we all make choices based on our individual reality. Yet, let it be made clear and known that we are existing in a reality of an “enemy of the state” society in which we move and dwell.
As I write this I am sitting in my childhood home on the south side of Chicago where violence is at an all time world high. I have spent the last two days and going into a third with some of most powerful, forward thinking, passionate and compassionate black men of our time; Prince Asiel Ben Israel International Ambassador of The African Hebrew Israelites, Dr. Terry Mason, Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health and Hospital Systems and Haki Madhubuti, Founder, Publisher and Chairman of Third World Press, the largest independent black-own press in the United States. As we chatted, I/we all discovered that my biological family was already connected to these gentlemen and the cause for justice for our people. Not merely because we are all black, but, by way of lives intersecting through revolutionary acts over the last 40 years and since before I was ever born. It is apparent to me now more than ever that I am to be involved with this process helping to free, educate and further enlighten our people. So, while this was a long awaited trip home to see my family, it was one regarding black business and matters that can and will change the course of our history, forever. Thus, having been divinely appointed to help document its unfolding, at the center of this movement is the powerful Black Male presence.
Admittedly, for the first time I felt the excitement, invigoration and even the pressure of what many of our ancestors felt as they sojourned in their fight for Civil Rights (you had to be in the room). While here in the presence of these awesome men, I could not help but to think of the young brother’s lives we have lost at the hands of police brutality and shootings, the injustice and UNJUSTice and those who are by way of the system, now political prisoners. Or worse, deceased. This number is far too great and beyond any justifiable count that a simple blog could ever house or hold. Yet, I am compelled to note, that there is a conspiracy to literally obliterate the black male presence in this country now more than ever before in history. Unfortunately, black America was/is in many ways naive in our thinking and under the false impression that President Barack Obama would be a “Messiah” of sorts for us. However, we have forgotten that although he may sit in the most powerful world seat, there is more animosity towards him than any black man in world history, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X).
As far-fetched as it may seem, in my opinion, the segment of “white America” that would like to take down or out our president cannot, and therefore, “they” are by default and proxy taking out and taking it out on our young, black men. They are angry and afraid of us more now than ever. This is evident based on how they come after our boys with guns cocked and loaded and “a system” that finds those gun toting, unfriendly officers and lawless individuals not guilty for gunning down unarmed, innocence. I am grieved and vexed by this and my heart openly aches for us because black America in a very general sense has become immune to these acts of criminality and view them simply as unfortunate acts of violence and not for what they are; A FULL ON ASSAULT against us as a larger community of people, especially OUR BLACK MEN.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, an esteemed black scholar notes, “when every black boy is born, America builds two things for him: a prison cell and a casket.” Though I would like to disagree with this, I unfortunately cannot. This is evident by the number of caskets skyrocketing in recent months and years. These filled with the presence of our beautiful black men. It does not always end with a physical death, but many other acts of injustice that cause social deaths are committed on and against our men by railroading confessions and through acts of intimidation and coercion. This being evident in the Central Park Five case of 1989 out of New York City and it’s still yet unsettled civil lawsuit with the five black and Latino men who served time for a crime they did not commit and have since been exonerated. These and many other acts, including “stop and frisk,” “stand your ground,” “racial profiling,” and others are blatant traps set to harm and kill our brothers. As seen with the killings of Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Ramarley Gramham, Sholiver Dosher, Kimani Gray, Sean Bell, Malcolm Davis, Trayvon Martin so many others, may they all Rest in Peace.
Black America must overstand and become and stay conscious of these acts of ill will and evil that are present before and toward us. While as a people, we do not move in or with the spirit of fear, we must move with the elevated consciousness of and toward self and community preservation, self-empowerment and self-improvement. Although easier said than done, this is critical to the very state of our survival as a people.