Black men have always been viewed as inferior to whites. The hands of black men and women built this country, yet we were enslaved, abused, raped, tortured and killed. Since our ancestors’ arrival, we have suffered many hardships.
As an ethnicity that makes up less than 13 percent of the country’s total population, we should ask ourselves, how are black people perceived in society? And, as a black male, more specifically, how are we perceived?
In 2014, with an African-American president serving his second term, we still deal with being racially profiled by common citizens and law enforcement alike. Daily news coverage clearly reveals how black men are constantly profiled and sometimes even condemned by how they look, whether guilty or not.
In cases such as Trayvon Martin’s, our black men, young and old, are being taken away from us because they’re often viewed as dangerous people. To some, we can be seen as a race that should constantly be under surveillance. Condemned simply by our appearance, some would even say we pose a threat.
As black men, we’re taught not to make ourselves stand out. But should we change who we are to make people feel safe? Should black men wear signs saying, “I have no criminal background and pose no harm to you”? All these things run through my head.
Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback and Stanford University graduate, was recently called a “thug” because of his comments after a game.
How will black men survive in the years to come? Will we be able to overcome and reclaim our thrown as the kings we are. So many lives have been lost and imprisoned in this fight of injustice.
But racism isn’t just from other races. It’s even within our own. We are killing ourselves every day through gun violence and greed. We need to encourage and help our brothers, highlight positive black men and show we are not convicts and “thugs.”
Justin Bieber’s case was no different with his recent run-in with Miami police facing DUI charges and possible deportation. Many have asked if the singing superstar is being influenced by his friends, who happen to be mostly young black males. My heart is heavy and feels the pain of not just my generation of black men but also the generations to come. We need a reality check as young black men of the new millennium.
We have become too careless, too materialistic and selfish as black men. So many worldly things have consumed and poisoned our minds. In a time of great technology, we have more at our fingertips than ever before.
Let’s not lose sight of what was once important: our dignity and self-respect of being a strong black man. Let’s try to build a better future for generations to come, not letting race and labels define who we are as men of color but displaying it in the content of our character.
We can never move forward if we’re always being held back. I remember what Bettye Grable, a professor at Florida A&M, once said: “To change the world, you have to start with yourself. Stop worrying about everyone else because some things will never change.”