http://thegrio.com/2013/07/25/ohe following commentary appeared Thursday on MSNBC’s The Cycle, as guest host Angela Rye closed the show with her thoughts on the killing of Trayvon Martin, and what it means for African-American boys.
I imagine that as I look at your face for the first time, I will see the hope of your great future and the promise of your purpose on earth.
But as I write you today, I am angry … saddened even, because I cannot provide for you the world that you absolutely deserve.
The impetus for this letter is a not guilty verdict in the Trayvon martin case, a black boy just like you.
For all the world to see, it became okay to shoot and kill unarmed black boys.
Is this more troubling than black on black violence, particularly among youth?
No, contrary to popular belief in some communities and on some extreme television shows, so many throughout the country work diligently to resolve black on black violence. But what this verdict did is remove an additional layer protection of the law… something that you unequivocally deserve.
I was prepared to tell you about the subtle challenges you may face, I was not prepared to have you experience the same type of racism, prejudice, and ignorance as your forefathers did and I believed, already conquered. You will stand on the shoulders of great black men within the community and more specifically, in our family.
Just like I see you in Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Ralph Ellison, Charles Hamilton Houston, Nelson Mandela, and President Obama…
I also see you in the young boys and men who never had a fair chance to experience abundant life:
Sean bell, Jordan Davis, Kimani Gray, and Trayvon Martin.
I am writing you because I need you to know about the rich history of your ancestors that runs through your veins as it is far deeper than any racial profiling, stop & frisk, stand your ground, voter suppression, anti-affirmative action, or any other discriminatory policy you will ever experience.
I didn’t want to tell you about how our family and so many others fought to ensure civil rights and mean spirited people fought to strip away those same rights – from when they were first won to unfortunately, right now as I write you in 2013.
And I didn’t want you to know that the only instances affirmative action in higher education is tolerable is when your parents graduated from the same school or far more frequent for black kids, when you can do wonders with a basketball or run the football up their field to make them money you will never see.
And son, I don’t think my parents wanted to tell me this either. I think they dreaded the day like I am dreading this moment.
So instead they taught me black history that never made it in any of my history textbooks. They showed me black kings and queens from Africa who looked just like me (and you).
They told me black is beautiful to arm me with confidence because they knew how much I would hear the exact opposite…and I am preparing to do the same with you.
Because of the vestiges of slavery, you may have to fight to protect how you are perceived as a black man:
You are not a killer.
You are not a thug.
You are not barbaric.
You are not ignorant.
You are not violent.
And when the world tells you otherwise, I will remind you that:
You are a marvelous black man.
You can be anything you want to be.
You will make history by building on our rich legacy.
You will always offer a hand up.
You will love this country’s potential and do your part in ensuring a more perfect union.
Son, I hope none of this makes sense to you by the time you can understand the content of this letter because that will mean we finally stopped singing we shall overcome and we began to actually live it.