Untitled..

I just saw Fruitvale Station. In light of the Zimmerman trial, my thoughts were rather heavy. I had to get them out the best way I know how, which is writing.

I’ve grown up mostly around white people. My father grew up in the projects of Harlem and was determined to allow his children a better life than the one he had. He moved us to Fayette County, GA–Peachtree City to be exact. PTC was an extremely white neighborhood, still dominated by the white majority. I remember being the only black kid in my grade, and one of four black kids in the entire middle school.

I knew I was black and I knew they were white. But it didn’t really matter to me. It didn’t seem to matter much to them either.

I knew that there were differences, but I never really knew what it meant to be black in this society. I’ve figured that out more and more in my young adult life than I ever thought possible in my tween and teen years.

I’ve realized that being black doesn’t mean simply having more melanin and being of a darker complexion. Being black in this world means some people thinking you are lesser, inferior even, sometimes. Being black means your life can be taken by another black person and no one notices. Being black means your life can be taken by someone of a different race and your murderer maybe get a year or two in prison; or may be found not guilty at all. Being black means having to try harder than everyone else to get a job, to prove yourself, to maximize your potential. Being black means having to “talk white” and “act white” in order to succeed in the world.

After Zimmerman was found not guilty, I tried to stick to the facts of the case, only arguing what I knew as evidence. But, I didn’t really voice my own opinion much. Now, I will.

When George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin my heart dropped. I looked at the tv thinking maybe the verdict wasn’t real, then wondering if it could be appealed. I thought about my little brother, and how he’ll have to go through things that I’ve never even dreamed of, simply because he will be a man. A black man. I had to think about my male friends who have been guilty of Driving While Black. I’ve seen my own father pulled over before–not for speeding, not for running a red light. But for driving an expensive car in a nice neighborhood, late at night–and being black while doing it.

The verdict in the case did not tell me anything I didn’t already know. Instead it solidified things I’ve been told, things I failed to recognize for years. It told me that things haven’t changed as much as I thought, as much as I’d hoped. It told me that my brother’s life, and other young black men’s lives are not as valuable as some others may be.

“The system” seems to be working pretty well. We live in a society where the system is flawed and set up to get and keep black men either dead or in prison. So you can’t tell me that it’s not working well. And some black men are working with it, doing every possible thing to be profiled, to be labeled, to be the typical black man that every old white lady is scared of.

We have to do better. You can’t count on “the system” to work for you when all it’s been built to do is work against you. You can count on yourself, you can count on your community. But, you have to want it.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Just like the guy in the film, I commend black men who are there to raise their children. Black men who are enrolling and graduating college. Black men who are working in corporate America, and are upstanding citizens of this country we live in. Give them something to commend you for. Give them a reason to think that we are just the same as anybody else, and not a people to be feared.

I know this whole post is scattered, and it probably jumps topics and doesn’t make much sense, but.. it’s out. So there it is.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow Courtney this is really deep I could feel every emotion in your blog. I especially enjoyed the last paragraph about BLK men who are now graduating college working in corporate America but, you for got one serving their country. #GOD BLESS #TruelyGifted

  2. I am so happy that you have started back writing publically…..furthermore, this was a very deep looking into your thoughts about some very important issues

  3. I think as bad as it is for young black men who are completely innocent (maybe they are in college, they don’t smoke or do drugs, they do participate in internships and community service events), it is much worse for those who have any blemishes on their record. For those who have sold or used drugs, been to jail, or are without employment. Little is done to address or even acknowledge the systematic events that perpetuates this behavior. Instead when bad things happen to them, they are written off because these are “bad people”. If you have one picture throwing up the middle finger, or have smoked weed one time, suddenly it’s ok to allow violence to happen to them, and these behaviors are tools to justify the devaluation of life.

    What’s more is that being a black male (and to a degree black female) means you aren’t supposed to respond to violence when it is perpetuated against you. The biological “fight or flight” response should be negated because of skin color. Yet, the expectation is that it should be negated. This was a wonderful post. I agree wholeheartedly with your frustrations. Thank you for sharing.


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