OPINIONS: What Black males are taught

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On Dec. 4, dozens of people—students, faculty, alumnae and others—held a “die-in” at Agnes Scott College. For 4.5 minutes, they lay, silent and motionless, on a patio in the college’s quad. The protest was staged to symbolize the 4.5 hours Michael Brown’s dead body lay on the street in Ferguson, Mo., after the unarmed Black teenager was shot to death by a White policeman in August.

A gathering outside Candler School of Theology at Emory University drew more than 300 protesters who chanted, “Black lives matter. I cannot breathe. I want to live.” “I can’t breathe” were reportedly the final words of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died following a police chokehold in July.

Regionally, other protests were held at Columbia Theological Seminary, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University and various locations around Atlanta.

Hundreds of protests have sprung up around the country this year in response to these and other Black males dying in encounters with White police officers.

While there are no easy answers to the problems of racism in law enforcement, the best defense for Blacks—particularly Black males—is to work hard not to get involved with the police. When you do illegal things, the police can get involved and things can get ugly.

When those encounters do occur, we Black males are taught to be extra polite, keep our hands visible, don’t make sudden movements and answer the officer’s questions.

No it’s not like it was during slavery or even during the 1960s. Many advances have been made in racial reconciliation, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has not been fully realized.

Even when they are doing nothing wrong, Black males can grab the attention of the police. When I was in college in the late 1980s, I was once surrounded by university cops as I took a midnight stroll across campus to get relief from a migraine that was being aggravated by late-night partiers in my dorm.

Even here in DeKalb County, I get stopped every time I get a new-to-me car with a drive-out tag—which is not illegal. In fact, I will be getting a new car soon and fully expect to get stopped by the police. Once, when I got pulled over by a cop for having a drive-out tag, there obviously had been some police activity nearby involving a dozen police cars. After the first cop pulled me over, the others all decided to stop. That was a little unnerving.

Once I had car trouble at night on Glenwood Road in south DeKalb. I was able to get my car off the road into park. Minutes later a policeman pulled up and asked for the usual documents. He said they had received a complaint call from neighbors about “a lot of people” in the park. I was the only person there. When he discovered that all of my documents were in order, the cop left me in the park with my broken down car, without offering any kind of assistance.

Every time I encounter police in possibly negative situations, I keep calm, comply with the police, never argue and am very polite
A quick look at the statics for citations, arrests, court cases and incarcerations will show that Black males come into contact with police more than their White counterparts. How Black males react when these situations arise can often determine how high the tensions will escalate.

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One thought on “OPINIONS: What Black males are taught

  • December 24, 2014 at 10:03 am
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    A great article/commentary! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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