By Depelsha McGruder
Since the last edition of The Messenger, two more Black males have been in the news for being killed by police. 22-year-old Stephon Clark of Sacramento, CA was gunned down in his family's backyard while holding a cell phone. Officers fired 20 rounds, with 8 bullets piercing through Clark’s body. 34-year-old Saheed Vassell, a Jamaican immigrant living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was gunned down by NYPD because he was wielding a metal pipe. He was a welder and suffered from mental illness. These cases and many others like them serve as a constant reminder of how precarious life is for a Black man trying to survive in America. You’d think no place would be safer than the yard of your grandmother’s home, yet Stephon Clark couldn’t even find safety there.Another case that stopped me in my tracks was the April 12th case of a teenager in Rochester Hills, MI, who missed his bus, got lost trying to walk to school, and asked for directions. Instead of offering this 14-year-old young man (who was clearly determined to get to school to get an education) some help and guidance, neighbors immediately became afraid at the mere sight of him at their front door and shot at him instead. The boy only survived because the overanxious shooter forgot to take the safety off of the gun. (But yet we’re just being paranoid, right?)
With incidents like this, it is very difficult to know how to effectively prepare our sons for a world that is clearly hostile toward and afraid of their very existence. If your son is walking down the street, should you advise him to carry absolutely nothing in his hands for fear of any object (i.e., cell phone, wallet, pipe) being mistaken for a gun, thereby legally justifying his instant assassination? If our sons get lost, should they not ask anyone for help for fear of being considered a suspect vs. a child in need of adult concern and assistance?
Every day, the matrix of how to survive as a Black male in America becomes more complex and unclear. This is why MOBB United is dedicated to changing negative perceptions of Black males and to pushing for changes in policies that justify our sons being unfairly targeted and killed.
We invite you to join us in the struggle by becoming a member and/or volunteering today. This clearly is not a problem that will be solved overnight, but it is OUR responsibility to persist nevertheless—until our sons can walk down the street without constantly having to look over their shoulders and be expected to apologize for their presence.