As an African American man living in the United States of America, I am keenly aware that I have been hunted my entire life. From the moment I entered the world, the hunt was on. In fact, as I left the hospital, I’m certain that my father, like most of the other African American men that I know, prayed that he could make it home without any engagement from the police. You see, police interactions for us are very different from other races. From the lenses through which I see the world, it seems that the police are committed to serving and protecting other Americans from me and my own. They are afforded the opportunity to feel American and free, yet I am made to feel unwanted and complacent within the confines of my gilded cage. As a young man, my mother tried to teach me how to avoid the racial landmines of life. However, as life sometimes goes, I couldn’t escape them all. From the moment I began to realize and accept that I wanted to be part of the solution rather than the problem for my people, I also began to understand that our oppression is both systemic and intentional. Initially, I went to school to become an attorney. I wanted to help my people understand and defend their rights in the judicial system. However, like a venomous snake, once bitten by the judicial system, it matters not where you go, for the real damage is already done. With that being said, as an attorney, I could only be reactive. Therefore, I chose to become an educator in order to be proactive. Because the minds of children are both open and ready, I have done my best to teach subject matter to the subjects that matter to me. I have done my best to empower them with the tools that will not only help change their lives, but also the world in which we live. I have tried to help them understand that they, too, can be Americans rather than American’ts. I have tried. I have been trying to drown the demons of racism, sexism, oppression, apathy, ignorance, poverty, self-hatred, shame, and fear my entire life. However, it seems that those demons have been taking swimming lessons. Today, it seems that they have taken on other forms. In short, I legitimately feel that the minds of our children have become so perverted that if offered a positive way out, many would choose to stay in because our people have allowed those that have never lived through our conditions to define the term “hood” as both powerful and attractive. I grew up in the hood. However, when I grew up in the hood, it was a different place. We didn’t curse in front of adults. Children, the elderly, and women understood that they were always safe, and teachers were treated with respect. However, today, it seems that the codes by which we once lived have been turned on their heads. Metaphorically speaking, our children are given a heaping table spoon of self-hatred on a daily basis. When they turn on the television and see a large group of people that look like them, it seems that they are either in the ghetto, profiting from the ghetto, trying to be accepted in the ghetto, or trying to glamorize the horrors of the ghetto. When they turn on the radio, the “artist” that they listen to are either in the ghetto, profiting from the ghetto, trying to be accepted in the ghetto, or trying to glamorize the horrors of the ghetto. When they turn to social media, when they see the stories of people that look like them, it seems that they are either in the ghetto, profiting from the ghetto, trying to be accepted in the ghetto, or trying to glamorize the horrors of the ghetto. When I was a kid, A Different World was just that; a different world. It was far from where I was born, and I desperately wanted the life that those choices would inevitably bring. The Cosby Show made me believe that I, too, could be successful, happy, conscience, classy, and most of all, me. Good Times made me feel like although I was in the ghetto, I was not the ghetto. Those shows and stories are no more. I have said it before, so I will say it again; if we continue to allow the powers that be to control what our children both hear and see, they will also continue to control what they think. Trying to save the viewer without changing the program is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket. Our young men are being slaughtered, and our young ladies seem to be growing more confident and accepting of being nothing more than objects of desire. Enough. When Justin Timberlake begins to make records are bringing violence to the doors of Justin Bieber, I’ll believe that it’s just art. When Taylor Swift begins to make videos about the darkest sexual exploits imaginable, I’ll believe that it’s just art. When Hollywood begins to glamorize the life of Caucasian drug dealers benefiting from the opioid addiction, I’ll believe that it’s just art. When young Caucasian men are influenced by society to believe that it is better to gang bang than to unite politically, communally, financially, and otherwise, I’ll believe that it’s just art. When Caucasian children are inundated with individuals who consistently resound the message that not only did they drop out of school, but it’s also the very reason why they became successful, I’ll believe that it’s just art. However, until that time comes, I’ll believe that it’s just us, or as society inadvertently calls it; justice. Patrick
As always, this week, please do something for someone other than yourself for no reason at all other than to make their lives better. Also, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Always choose Love.