It’s dangerous for a black man to jog on the streets. When some people see a black man running, they assume he’s running from the scene of a crime or about to commit one.
Ahmaud Arbery, a young black male, was shot and killed on a Sunday afternoon in late February while jogging near his home in Brunswick, Georgia.
Two white males, Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, were charged last week with murder and aggravated assault for the crime only after a video of the incident surfaced.
Gregory McMichael told police that Arbery looked like a man suspected in several break-ins in the area.
However, through a public records request, it was found that there had been just one burglary in the area since January. That was the theft of a handgun from an unlocked truck parked outside Travis McMichael’s house.
Arbery’s parents fear their son’s death will go unpunished. Protesters took to the streets in Brunswick.
The whole thing brings back painful memories of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in 2012 who thought the teen looked suspicious. Zimmerman was later acquitted.
Things like these are why black males have different coming-of-age lessons. While their white counterparts are taught valuable lessons such as saving your money, obeying the law and such, black kids get a lesson in potential racial encounters.
I can remember as if it was yesterday my grandmother telling me, “Boy, be careful how you act out in them streets.”
It didn’t take long to find out what she meant. This was in the 1960s, and racial taunts and injustices were prevalent all over the country. I was called “nigger” more than a few times. I was threatened by a carload of whites with baseball bats and a police officer who threatened to beat my head off with his night stick after me and my friends retaliated against a woman who made racial comments to us. She owned a laundromat and we went into to get a soda pop from the pop machine. The woman said something like, “No niggers allowed.” It didn’t matter that the two friends with me that day were a white kid and a biracial kid.
As we left carrying groceries home we took a carton of eggs out and egged the laundromat window. Wrong move, of course, but we were young and angry.
It was not long before in 1955 when 14-year-old Chicago teen Emmett Till was murdered by two white males while visiting family in Money Mississippi,. His crime? Supposedly whistling at a white woman in a store. The murderers — the woman’s husband and his brother — were acquitted of the crime.
“Boy, be careful how you act out in them streets.”
That’s sound advice in every generation of young black males.
That’s advice my grandson Jace Deaver will hear from me and his father. He’s 5 years old but it’s best to learn something early. Could be the difference between life and death.