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Oh, to be Young, Gifted, and Black

I don’t want to delve into the logistics of the Mike Brown case, or unfortunately the many others that are the same that we have seen in the past few years. All these situations have one underlying similarity, the perpetuation of stereotypes.

I’m writing to you as an African American man that many media outlets refuse to show. A man who doesn’t apologize for his race and who takes pride in his heritage.

I know my father and we talk regularly. I don’t have any illegitimate children. I’m not always angry.

I don’t degrade women. My pants don’t hang from my ass and I’m not covered in gang tattoos. I’m in college and it’s not because of an athletic scholarship. Finally, I’m not on welfare.

I didn’t buy the controversy that media portrays black people in a negative light first. As a member of the media, I get unfortunately we too have to appeal to the politics of the business. Therefore, you have to show the robberies, killings, and vandalism.

However, African Americans are not the only people committing crimes in America. With that same sentiment, white people are not the only people achieving the “American Dream.”

There are numerous black men and women blazing a trail for those like them to follow. They are Fortune 500 CEOs, teachers in a troubled inner city, journalists, doctors, etc. But the news rarely shows them. They choose the 10% of our race that does things the wrong way to characterize the 90%.

Most times, when a black person is shown on the news, they show them as barbarians, savages, people with no moral compass. Most times, when a white person is shown on the news, they are painted as innocent, delicate, full of promise and potential.

Why aren’t we shown that way? Don’t we have promise? Don’t we have the potential to be great beyond our wildest dreams?

In America, we love to focus on issues in foreign policy, but we can’t even tackle the problems we have here at home. The same problem we have had since 1610 when the first slaves were brought here to America, race.

It’s time we finally address race here in America. Stop sweeping it under the rug, and we need to create an open dialogue for all citizens to speak their minds.

I feel like now is the time Obama should speak candidly. He spoke with raw emotion about the Trayvon Martin situation. He said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. That struck home with a lot of families across the US.

As black people, it’s our duty to educate those who don’t understand us and not condemn. Nothing can change if other races don’t know we truly are. But before we do that, we have to look in the mirror and see who we truly are.

We are all beautiful kings and queens with such a rich heritage. You don’t have to change your beliefs and practices to fit in. However, you do need to know how to play the game.

We need to know how to code switch. We have to learn what’s appropriate in some situations and what isn’t in others.

As the great African American poet, James Weldon Johnson, once said,

“It is a struggle; for though the black man fights passively, he nevertheless fights; and his passive resistance is more effective at present than active resistance could possibly be. He bears the fury of the storm as does the willow tree.”

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