To Help Black Boys, Listen to Black Men

Photo by David Robert Bliwas via Flickr
Photo by David Robert Bliwas via Flickr

A note from Jennifer: A week ago, in light of the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and 5 Dallas police officers, I re-shared my 2014 post, Why We Need To Worry About Black Boys. The response was generally positive, but I got comments like these too:

When I think of the black kid who had stolen something from a store and had a gun and later was walking down the  middle of the street when the cop told him to walk on the sidewalk…..he refused …he appeared to (or actually did)  go for his gun…. he gets shot …..the whole event of his being shot and  what followed was sad…the city later had riots for a few days and much damage…BUT if the kid had simply gotten out of the street…..NOTHING might have happened.

Sadly, that’s not necessarily true. The guest post below was written by my friend Marcus Jackson. Marcus, who has contributed two amazing posts previously (here and here) and is one of the most caring, giving, intelligent & compassionate people I know. He is also a black man. Please read what he wrote. Share his words. Discuss them. This is the reality black men & boys face. 

I Have a Wide Nose.

I just heard the audio from Mr. Castile being pulled over because he matched the description of a robbery suspect by having a wide nose. Well guess what? I have a wide nose. For the past few days I’ve sat back and refrained from any comments simply because I was overwhelmed at just how blind people are. Some say the shootings were justifiable because they had a gun. However, the comments that struck home to me the most were ” just comply, follow directions, be very kind, and just say yes sir and no sir. Well let me tell you this, that s!@# does not work if you come across the right racist cop. I’ve been pulled over and spat on in Mississippi for speaking when I wasn’t spoken to ” I was told I don’t have the right to ask why I’m being pulled over because I was in his motherf&%$#@ city. And if I had said something else to say my body would end up missing.” I believed him. I was pulled over for looking suspicious.

In North Carolina my experience was worse. I was assaulted in a police car, taken to jail, and laughed at as they wouldn’t allow me to use the restroom and I urinated on myself and had to stand up for 2 hours as other officers passed by and laughed. I was pulled over because they said my lights weren’t on and when I pointed at the building (which my lights were reflecting) and said officer “with all due respect my lights are on.” At this point he told me to ” shut the f!@# up” Additionally, after an extensive amount of time taking multiple sobriety test I was ridiculed for trying to speak proper and being a smart a@#. Well after being asked to walk a straight line backwards, say my alphabets backwards, repeat my drivers license number backwards, and then stand on one leg for 5 seconds I added a perfect cartwheel on the line to show him I was sober (yeah this was too much but I was upset). He became very upset at this point and ordered me to close my because he didn’t want to look me in my eyes. I was terrified and refused.This prompted the arrest and assault in his police car.

Finally, in Georgia I was pulled over for looking suspicious. When asked where was I going? I replied going to get donuts for my Secretary. It was at this point I was asked what did I do to have a secretary? I responded I’m an assistant principal. At this point he asked for the schools phone number and before he called he stated ” if you’re not the assistant principal I’m gonna break your fu@#$%& jaw. Well he called my school, my position was verified, and I was told to leave and to never travel down that road again because if he saw my car ” it’s over for me.” I never traveled that road again.

With this being said I get being kind and complying. Believe me I get it. However, as in the case of Mr. Castile you can be kind, follow directions, and still end up dead. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to be alive. This issue we’re dealing with some police officers is real and unless you’ve had the experiences I had you really can’t speak on. Until we acknowledge the problem, the problem will never get better. Yes we’re holding classes and discussions with our boys, but who’s holding classes and discussions with the officers? This is real y’all. Unfortunately, it may not really hit home with you until it happens to someone you know. This may be your child, brother, uncle, dad, or friend. If it haven’t happened yet just wait there’s a high chance that it’s coming. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end in death. ~ Dr. J

The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

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“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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