It was 1949, I was five, my body was black, and I didn’t know it. I was the son of a migrant, who purchased his first home in the city of Baltimore on the east side. My first best friend was white, as it was an all-white block within the neighborhood. Our friendship came to an end in 1950 when we started school as we went our separate ways. He abruptly stops talking to me and the friendly smile went away, I didn’t know why. But now, with a life of living, with the book wide open, "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
Although following my dream in pursuing my education, in 1960 I became a high school dropout. The connotation of a dropout being not very bright, rebellious and a burden on society. In 2016, a youth with a BB gun resembling a firearm was shot by police in East Baltimore. The Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis of which I believe is an honorable man, stated: “He could not wrap his head around (because he had teens) a child leaving home with a replica of a gun.” It’s understandable, and he is not alone, for there are plenty African-Americans who feel the same way. The problem is, they nor their children have not lived the learned experiences of fear and survival of the inner city youth. Many have never visited nor physically seen the abandon houses of economically deprived neighborhoods.
I do not advocate weapons in schools, but in 1960, being racially bullied, if I had access to even a replica of a gun, I might have carried it to school. I cannot speak for the young man with the BB gun, but I have experienced fear and the psychological effect it can have. Poverty, joblessness, and educational deficiency is the proving grounds for drugs and crime. Black youth will spontaneously run from the police, not because they have done wrong but because they don’t trust the law with their lives. The police aren't the only fear inner city youth deal with on a regular basis. A gun in the hands of a teenager can be a symbol of power. I'm not instigative for the carrying of any weapon by youth, just a statement of fact. On the other side of the coin, there’s workplace violence and victims of bullying and some who simply give up and commit suicide. When this happens, then, as usual, the Monday morning quarterbacking begins. Someone should have seen it coming! Give me a break. Whether it’s one on one or an entire group of people; racism and genderism are the elephants in the room, compounded by economic depravity, but the blind eye is always there. African–Americans have had to deal setbacks on the righting the ugliness of slavery since the party of Lincoln. For every attempt at moving forward, there came an antidote "against" racial advancement, as if it were a germ. From Reconstruction came Jim Crow along with PEONAGE. From forty acres and a mule came carpetbaggers and sharecropping. From desegregation came white flight and redistricting. From Black Power came White Power. From the Civil Rights Act and Affirmative Action came the claim of reverse discrimination. From voting rights came the allegations of voter fraud spearheading new voting rights laws. From “Black Lives Matter” came “All Lives Matter.” Not that all lives don’t matter, but the antidote lessened the attention the call was trying to make on the number of black males killed at the hands of police across the nation.
With "Black Lives Matter” demonstrating at a police convention August of 2016 in Baltimore, An official from the police union in an email sent out on a formal department memo to all attendees stated: "Union members attending the state FOP conference should expect more bad behavior from the THUGS OF BALTIMORE," referring to protesters. "On the bright side, maybe they will stop killing each other while they are protesting us.”
I invited the writer of the email (the police union official) to read my book and also “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, another Baltimore native and asked himself to live with an inner city black family restrictively for thirty 30 days. A request I knew he would not accept. He would be surprised how poor, law abiding citizens would welcome and prayerfully accept his presence.