Authored by William Robert Barber

Obama has spoken and to paraphrase: the president stated that there are very few African-American young men who have not experienced — in various animated ways — fearful apprehensions as they pass by white people sitting in cars or when sharing an elevator. The president’s implication is that these fearful people are all white. It is as if to say persons of color, unlike white people, have no need to fear young black men. Correspondingly, the suggestion is that white or black people need not fear white young men.  

While the president is expressing his explanation of why African-Americans are disturbed, distressed, and troubled by the Zimmerman verdict. The killing of African-Americans by African-Americans in Chicago exceeds the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is the president suggesting that Americans of African descent living in Chicago are not apprehensively fearful when young black men pass by?!?

The shooting of Trayvon Martin should have never happened. It was a tragedy. The incident was tried in a court of law and the verdict was “not guilty”. The FBI investigated, the Department of Justice declined to charge George Zimmerman… now, how far does one want to take this issue?

There is a disproportionate number of young black men in prison and an equally disproportionate number of young black men committing crimes. If the African-American community wants the image of young black men to change, then young black men need to change their behavior. And yes, of course sociologists have the standard reason why: No father, no education, and no opportunity… and their answers are always the same: spend more money.

Well, I personally know young black men and a few old black men, who have served their country with courage, work hard for a living, contribute their time and energy to community, and comprehensively enhance the American way of life. I grew up without a father. Aside from finishing the 10th grade of high school I have no formal education. I was born in Hawaii where white persons were the minority and there was a preponderance of prejudicial emotional harassment as well as physical threats to my being. My blood relations were poor in every way measurable. However, I never thought of myself as disadvantaged because of my obvious disadvantages; instead, I did what I needed to do: I learned to fight and stand my ground and always emphasized putting one foot in front of the other, striving to improve my plight. I have failed many times — more than I have succeeded — but I never gave up and whined to the government to save me from myself.

Yes, it may be tough to be a young black man in America I think it’s tough for young and old people respective of ethnic origin; but so what, life has always been tough. I suggest one confront one’s issue (whatever they may be) directly with the purposeful tenacity to overcome.   

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