“Black Men Must Unite to Remove the Bullseye off Our Backs”
While my bloodline says I’m African American, Native American and white, my reality remains obvious – I’m a Black man in America.
I may have earned three degrees at three prestigious universities, I may have achieved noteworthy success as a journalist and I’ve been at the front line in the raising of my two children and now grandsons, but my reality remains obvious – I’m a Black man in America.
I may tithe to my church, support grassroots organizations with my dollars, be fortunate enough to not have a criminal record and even be one who continues to follow the Biblical statute of “honoring thy Mother and Father” by bringing my mom to live with me after her health began to fail, but my reality remains – I’m a Black man in America.
And because of my skin color, I leave my home each day wondering if there’s some kind of bullseye on my back. A big sign that says “Beware, Dangerous.”
So, when I hear about cases like the recent decision by a jury in South Carolina that ended in a mistrial – unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case of a white former North Charleston police officer charged with the murder in the death of Black motorist Walter Scott, I can only shake my head in disillusionment.
The policeman, Michael Slager, could have spent the rest of his life in prison if convicted of murder. A voluntary manslaughter conviction could have brought a sentence of two years to 30 years. (He was charged with both murder and with voluntary manslaughter). But for now Slager, 35, while unemployed, at least has his life.
Was a broken taillight enough cause for the policeman to chase Scott after he attempted to run away? Was Scott’s poor decision to try to avoid arrest and to flee, just cause for Slager to empty his clip on a man whose back was toward him as he ran? And what use are cellphone videos if even after watching them, juries cannot make sense of what truly unfolded?
As the lead reporter and senior editor for the Miami Times several years ago, I remember wondering after “a jury of his peers” found the murderer of Trayvon Martin not guilty, but instead justified because of “stand your ground legislation” what would it take for the lives of Black men, Black boys, Black women and Black girls to be valued equally to others (whites) in America? I asked, as many before me, “how long.”
Now, for the “umpteenth” time, I’m asking those same questions, feeling that same angry, frustration and pain.
But more than that, I’m afraid – afraid that one day I may be that motorist like Brother Walter, or that person walking to the corner store like Brother Trayvon – and then discover that the bullseye on my back has attracted a heat-seeking missile that’s bound and determined to find its target – my beloved grandson, my hardworking son-in-law, my only male son, or ME.
And then “greater minds” will only have two words to utter: “Mission Accomplished.”
Black men, we’d better unite now.