Picture a family sitting down in their living room explaining to their son what life is about to be like for them and concludes with “get ready for the world son”. What was said prior to that last line is an entirely different picture for black and white families here in America. In the past few months, much focus has been given to the Michael Brown tragedy and the no indictment of Darren Wilson and brought into question (which seems to never have dissipated since slavery) how is racism in America?
When black families gather together to discuss situations such as Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, John Crawford and many others who have been killed by law enforcement officers this year alone, it will likely consist of personal experiences of previous harassment and how they were able to survive these harsh tactics in the past and how they too can help to prevent this. But here is the question: Is that fair? Is it necessary for black families to have this talk because of societies irrational fear of black people in America? Should we have to “overly” conduct ourselves because the threat of death is upon us while having police use tactics to abuse us with law enforcement disregard to minimize the level of harassment, increase the preservation of black lives, or deescalate situations? The sad reality however is that we are having these talks, we are giving first hand accounts of what it was like for us and how we are perceived in society. What’s tragic, most white families aren’t having to do this, willing to talk to their kids about what to do if they see it, or even care. In fact a recent study has shown more whites favor harsher penalties if they punisher blacks more. Is this equality?
The Ferguson tragedy opened up more than the over-policing of blacks, recent polls also show a racial divide entrenched in judicial racial bias and perception of blacks. As we know in the African-American community, the talk of police harassment in the community is nothing foreign, in fact if a cop is known to be a harsh enforcer a nickname is given or the officer name is passed around to be aware. This information along with family conversations about societal and police perception of our people and culture have led many African-Americans to question the testimony of Darren Wilson and his allegations that Michael Brown jumped into his police cruiser and attacked him. But it also led many whites to side with Darren Wilson because they aren’t having these conversations with their families, because of the current segregated neighborhoods they are disconnected from the black community and assume we are capable of many situations where we don’t have care of life or fear of it.
So the question begs an answer, is there really equality in the perception of black people? As many families gather around for the holidays, with some missing from their tables and not around to opening gifts, we will see black people question whether they are allowed to play with certain toys, wear certain clothes, or even shop in Wal-Mart and pick up toys there. Black families have a fear that white families will not understand and that’s being black. When white suicide bombers and movie theater shooters are able to stand trial but black children with bb guns (and I write this as I’m watching the scene from Home Alone with the little kid using a bb gun), black men shopping in Wal-Mart or just stopped for jay walking are gunned down then we share two different dinner conversations. When we tell our children “get ready for the world” it will come with two different meanings.