Black life is not valued.

Patricia Jones
Charleston, SC

My husband and I are the parents of an 18-year-old son who just graduated from high school. As we raised him to this point, we were always concerned about his emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Our goal was to get him through high school and his teenage years without ever seeing what jail looks like. Thankfully and prayerfully, we have managed to do this. However, we have had the talk with him about how he should carry himself as an African American male in these United States. For example, whenever you’re stopped by a police officer, keep your hands on the steering wheel in the “2 o’clock” position. Don’t run in public spaces that might draw attention to you. Don’t wear a hoodie while when you go on your morning walk (he walks for exercise and he is trying to get into the Air Force, so he has to get his weight down). When you step on an elevator, don’t put your hands in your pockets-keep them visible. The list goes on and on. The same thing about the Trayvon Martin murder is this: only two people know what happened on that night, and unfortunately, one of them cannot speak. I have had some of my white friends say, “well, the facts are the facts. You should not look at this through emotion.” Well, how should black parents, black young men, black children, view this? Trayvon Martin had every right to be in that neighborhood on Feb. 26, 2012, because he was visiting with his father, who lives in that gated community. Why was he suspicious in George Zimmerman’s eyes? Why did George Zimmerman disobey the 9-1-1 operator’s directive of “stay in your car, do not follow him.” Why, because he knew he had a gun, and if all else failed, he could defend himself. When did it become a crime to walk to the store to get a snack? When? Florida’s judicial system is FLAWED, and unfortunately, this situation had to happen in order to force us, this country, to face the ugly truth: Racism is not dead. White folk are still terrified of Black folk. Society still insists on de-humanizing Black folk, and this is always going to be a problem. We need to have a discussion about race, but people have to be willing to talk without fear and anger. What I’ve learned from the state of Florida is this: we don’t value children, young people, and Blacks. Look at the Casey Anthony case. I was outraged by the fact that the judicial system did not convict her. Any good mother knows about the well-being of their child. A whole child has been murdered and no one is held accountable? Florida’s system is flawed, flawed, FLAWED.

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