I am not a young black man in this society.
I have been/am the daughter, sister, friend, and girlfriend of young black men.
I cannot say that I have had the experience of being profiled because of the color of my skin. The light glow of my flesh has exempted me from what my young black brothers face on a regular basis. However, I have witnessed some of the young black men in my life be subjected to profiling and unfair treatment by those in authority and common citizens alike.
I’ve witnessed my young black friends being followed around a store because their skin color and dress caused others to perceive them as a threat. I’ve been asked if I was “safe” because I was arm in arm with a young black man, as if a young light-skinned woman being linked with a young black man at night was dangerous to my health and well being. I’ve seen an officer abuse his position in an attempt to prove a point that he was more significant and more powerful. I’ve been present when concepts were intentionally broken down to a pre-school level because it was assumed that my young black friends were somehow less intelligent, less intellectual, and less able to comprehend because of their skin color. I’ve watched a young black man get ignored by others only to have to step in on his behalf in order to get him the customer service he deserved.
Though I myself was not on the receiving end of that treatment I still shared the shame, disappointment, embarrassment, and anger with these young black men. Personally, I was appalled. I was astonished. I was disgusted. I was hurt.
I am not a young black man in this society, but I know far too many to act as though racial profiling does not exist. It may not be as apparent as it has been in the past, but I think the fact that it is more concealed makes it all the more dangerous. It is easier to look away from. Easier to ignore. Easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.
There is this attitude in society that many seem to carry. An attitude that says, “If it doesn’t impact me directly, I don’t care.” It is a an attitude that I find to be disheartening. It is as if people have lost the ability to sympathize and empathize with others.
No – I am not a young black man. BUT – This is still my struggle.
Why? Because I love young black men, am friends with young black men, work with young black me, go to school with young black men, go to church with young black men, and coexist with young black men.
Their struggle is my struggle because at the end of the day, we are all human. And from one human being to another, I refuse to stand for injustice regardless of race, religious beliefs, or sexuality among other things.