This is not going to be an ordinary blog for me. I am not going to discuss the latest fashion trends or Christmas décor. While I am passionate about each, my heart is heavy with recent events. I feel there are more prevalent concerns impacting society currently.
In a time when black men are being executed without trial by each other and law enforcement, I believe it is necessary to change my subject matter. Let me preface that I am not attempting to devalue any other race. My intent is to recognize and inspire those black men, young and old who bare the day to day challenges of being black in America.
A few weeks ago, while in the gym performing my dreaded leg routine, I witnessed as a young black man was pulled over by the police. My attention diverted from the leg press to the events in plain view on a main thoroughfare.
Shortly after crossing an intersection two police officers performed an apparent traffic stop. I watched as the first officer approached the car. The driver and officer had a brief discussion before the driver exited the car. The officer began to frisk the driver.
Shortly thereafter, the second officer proceeded to check the car. He searched throughout the young man’s personal belongings as the driver and the first officer awaited. At the conclusion of the search, each officer returned to their cars and departed. The driver did not get a ticket! Why was he stopped and searched?
Last week, in the same vicinity, a police officer followed me for approximately two miles. He closely followed and mimicked each turn that I made. At a traffic light, I watched as he had an interior light on and I assumed he was verifying my plates. He continued to follow me until finally turning off.
Various thoughts ran through my mind. It was about 10:00pm and there was not a lot of traffic. I was somewhat mad until I remembered those who have lost their lives during routine traffic stops. Once upon a time I would pray that I would not get pulled over to avoid the expense of a traffic ticket, but this time I found myself praying for my safety. Imagine how the black male feels when this intimidation is routine.
Granted I try to abide by the law – don’t judge me but I might run an occasional red light or exceed the speed limit, but in today’s environment too often an initial traffic stop can escalate to cost a person’s life.
Next many black males encounter the growing threat of violence. The numbers are staggering in metropolitan cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and even Indianapolis. According to Esquire Magazine, Indianapolis was ranked 10th of the most violent cities in America in 2014.
While the violence is not exclusive to any one race, all too often our black sons, brothers, nephews, cousins, husbands and fathers are negatively impacted. Either they are gunned down in an alley, in the middle of Capital Avenue in broad daylight or at a fast food drive-thru.
When looking at a local news station’s crime map, it is apparent that violence is not secluded to the inner city, and does not consider the victim’s socioeconomic status, yet, forty eight percent of the victims have been black.
Another challenge that faces the black man in disproportionate numbers to other races, is unemployment. While Indiana’s unemployment rate hovers around 4.6 percent, the state unemployment rate among African Americans is 8.1 percent, nearly double. Keep in mind this number does not reflect those black men who are under-employed or unemployed as the result of a past felony conviction(s).
While I could continue into a discussion about education, gang violence, single parent households, inequality in the criminal justice system and so on, my goal was to illustrate the black man has numerous obstacles. Yet, in spite of that, there are black men who thrive.
There are black men who are attending or graduated from high school, college and those who pursued graduate degrees.
There are black men who own and operate their own businesses – barber shops, food trucks and clothing stores to name a few.
There are many black men that are in leadership either at local churches, government, or in Corporate America.
There are black men working in warehouses or even at my favorite restaurants and grocers.
There are black men who are involved in the media, athletics, writers, doctors, lawyers, judges, salesmen, construction workers, repair technicians, accountants and any other facet you can imagine- there are black men who are able to overcome the challenges of being black in America.
Black man, wherever you are in life, I know it maybe difficult and sometimes unfair, but shoutout to those brothers that keep striving in spite of the obstacles. Stay strong, we admire you and appreciate you.