ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Politics and Social Issues»
  • North America Political & Social Issues

The Perils Of Being A Young Black Man In America

Updated on August 20, 2014

Sadly, An Unarmed Black Man Being Killed In America Is Not Unusual

The recent shooting death of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, is only the latest example of how deadly can be in America for African-American men.

Too often, African-American men are looked at with suspicion. Too often, they are profiled needlessly. As a result, far too often they are the victims of violent deaths by law enforcement authorities.

Consider the events that led to the death of Brown, who was shot several times by Wilson in broad daylight. Multiple witnesses have said that even after Brown held his hands up, Wilson gunned him down in the middle of the street. Brown was unarmed.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Brown was white, that would not have happened.

Now, consider the Trayvon Martin case, which made national news. Young Mr. Martin was literally stalked and killed by Andrew Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch in his Sanford, Fla., community, while simply walking home from the store. Martin was unarmed.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Martin was white, that would not have happened.

Recently, in New York City, 43-year-old Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a New York police officer, who confronted him for selling loose cigarettes. Garner was unarmed.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Garner was white, that would not have happened. And nor should it happen, to any person, white, black, yellow, or brown.

But when these types of events do happen, they almost always happen to a black man. And, the incredible thing here is those three examples can be expounded on to the point where this entire space is dedicated to violent deaths of unarmed black men.

I could be wrong, but I do not know of one case in which a white person has died under such circumstances. It's not that whites aren't confronted by the law, it's not like they don't break the law. The difference is when they are confronted by the police, things rarely escalate to violence.

For example, look at how law enforcement officials interacted a few weeks ago in Nevada when rancher Cliven Bundy, in clear violation of federal laws, stood with armed supporters. During that standoff with federal authorities supporters of Bundy patroled the land carrying weapons, holding road blocks, and even had snipers on hand.

How did law enforcement officials handle that situation? They did nothing. They backed down.

Now, compare that to what you have watched in Ferguson this week, where tanks rolled down the streets, and tear gas was used, while law enforcement officers in military fatigues trained their guns on innocent citizens.

There is no doubt in my mind if African-Americans had been spotted carrying weapons in Ferguson as they were in the Bundy ranch, they would've been gunned down.

One of the main problems is African-American men, in particular, face a perception problem. "We as the African-American community...our young kids get stereotyped a lot," said Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, while appearing on MSNBC's Weekend With Alex Witt on Sunday. "We have to break the stigma, we come together as human beings and say African-Americans lives matter as much as any other ethnicity group."

Mr. Martin is correct. But it will be difficult to change the perception as long as African-Americans are continued to be portrayed as thugs and hoodlums. In each of the three cases cited, there was an attempt to sully the reputation of Brown, Martin and Garner.

While unflattering clips of Brown have been shown, authorities have piece-mealed information on Wilson. It took days of public pressure to even get his name. And we still don't know how many shots he fired, or any official details of what led him to shoot Brown.

And, let's be clear. There is no denial that a segment of the African-American community, like the few that have been looting in Ferguson, choose a life of crime and violence.

However, there is a yet another sector of African-American men that are strong and bold. There are fathers who are leaders in their families and communities. There are men who defend their country, teach today's youth, and go to work every day making contributions to their respective communities.

And, let's remember, there is an entire generation of young African-American men seeking higher education. You can find them at Hampton, Howard, Tennessee State, Morehouse and all the other Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other colleges, universities, and community colleges in the country.

They seek the American dream just like everyone else. But unlike most other ethnic groups, they do so with a bullseye on their back.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Glad to accommodate you, but that has nothing to do with Brown, on whom you and Rebecca are dead wrong, basing your entire case on lies, so I see why you are so eager to change the subject.

      Let's see now, Rebecca has tried to establish the DOJ are racists, so based on her logic they must have found the police department is A OK.

      Well surprise, although they cleared Wilson totally of any wrong doing the DOJ rightly condemned the city's racism and civil-rights abuses. Odd, isn't it that on the one hand, Rebecca, the DOJ are racists clearing Wilson but on the other hand they are not racist for finding the city abusive racially. From what I've read of the DOJ report there was evidence of racism in the police department, but nothing by Wilson and nothing that rises to the level of murdering unarmed black men simply because they are black. The kind of things that were in the report, some of which might even be debatable were the kind of "racism" you might find in the public at large, nothing that indicates anyone would want to murder innocent black people which is the topic of discussion on this hub page. Expressing racism in words and even deeds doesn't label all racist people as murderer's, which is what y'all insist on doing.

      Racism is despicable in any form but what you do by writing false articles and comments does nothing to help the race situation in America, it hurts it.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 2 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      What else did the justice department say abou the Ferguson Police department, Tsa?

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      I said the grand jury and "the FEDS". So you conveniently dismiss the fact the Justice Department says it won’t prosecute former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old because: "Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove Wilson’s testimony that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot."

      Why is that? I'll tell you why, because you are exactly like Al Sharpton, a race baiter who doesn't give a hoot about facts or the truth but simply has a prejudiced worldview yourself which you will declare to any imbecile who wants to agree without any respect for the facts or the truth or even both sides of any given situation.

      Obviously your imagination has run wild, you want us to believe the whole world is racist, the federal DOJ is a bunch of racists, you lie about the facts, the forensic evidence clearly shows Brown wasn't running away but coming at the officer but in your perverted mind that just can't be, despite all the facts to the contrary. So you simply lie to make your imagined point in the face of the facts. That's pathetic.

    • profile image

      Rebecca Motley 2 years ago

      tsadjatko, Grand juries do not "vindicate" anyone or anything. They indict or fail to indict. Nothing more, nothing less. If they were doing anything more there would be no need to try the case once the Grand Jury ruled-- now would there? Think about it. The only question asked of them is 'based on the one side of the evidence presented by the prosecutor do you think there should be a trial'?

      The limitations and built in bias of the process is obvious to most people. Why have you found a need to elevate the significance of the decision to a "vindication"?? American jurisprudence is not as complex as all that. Most of us get it!

      Likewise, the DoJ asks a SPECIFIC question which is NOT 'did the officer commit murder or act appropriately or inappropriately' but ONLY did the officer do whatever they did with an intent to violate the victims civil rights!

      You do understand that is a different question than whether or not the officer was vindicated, right? You do get that he could be a blatant murder who acted because he was stupid, or a sick sociopath but held no intent to violate civil rights and STILL the DoJ would have to decline to prosecute.

      What is it about people who rage about this country but don't understand the basics about it's functions. YUK!! Really terribly sad!

      Mr. Hampton was kind to call such a blathering display of ignorance an opinion. You should thank him, in my humble opinion!

      YOU only have one side of the facts and are so biased that you don't realize that! You have NO CLUE what the victim's version of the story was ---- do you? So YOU have jumped to a conclusion fed to those who would predictably buy the officers story. An EASY prediction made by the puppetmasters who control those folks every thought and action while filling their heads with delusions of competency and freedoms that they will NEVER have. The FIRST inkling of freedom begins with thinking for oneself and having the ability to access information so that an informed decisions can be made. Seems to me the good old distraction thing worked well on you!

      The ONLY way for a decent human being to justify Michael Brown's murder is to suggest that a death penalty is appropriate for walking in the street or stealing cigars from a store or assaulting an officer or not complying with every word from a police officers mouth.

      The good people of this nation have decided that that not the case. We don't have a death penalty for any of those things and NO officer should be judge, jury, and executioner. PERIOD! Once folks allow themselves to be distracted from the fundamental priniciples and beliefs that define America for any one of us for any reason they have forfeited the crux of our freedoms.

      Only a punk is threatened by a man running away from him. It is undisputed that Michael Brown was running away when the officer began to fire his gun. Officer's of the law should not be so easily frightened. Officer's who cannot protect themselves from a man running away from them should absolutely not be trusted to protect anyone else or their children!! Michael Brown posed NO threat to anyone but a scared little man who happened to have a badge and a gun. Mr. Hampton is absolutely correct in noting that black men face perils that others do not and frankly Tsa, you post, by virtue of it's sincerity underscored the validity of the premise of Mr. Hampton's article!

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 2 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      you have your opinion and i have mine. Rarely, do i engage in back and forth with readers. Rarely, does it change any ideas. But i sincerely appreciate your feedback.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      But you'll do nothing about it? Sounds to me like more like you are patronizing me more than you are respecting my opinion. Patronizing is the opposite of respect, but then that is what I have come to expect from "journalists", like the Rolling Stone reporter, they never face any consequence for their malpractice.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 2 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Thanks for the comments, Tsa! I respect your opinion.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Just curious, since it has been proven that Michael Brown never put his hands up, the cop was totally vindicated by the grand jury AND the Feds, Brown actually tried to grab the cop's gun and if he had could have shot him, he had just robbed a store bullying the owner don't you think you wrote this hub page well before all the facts were known and based your theme on a totally false account of what happened?

      If there is prejudice anywhere in your version of Michael Brown's story it is exhibited by you not the policeman. But why am I not surprised? After all you were an award winning sports columnist and opinion page writer, you'd think such an expert at journalism would be the first to wait for all the facts and not rush to judgement, but sadly you are a perfect example of how the press operates today, they don't want the facts, they just want any story they can trump up that supports their world view, their agenda. Rollingstone does it, they did it to the alledged "Duke rapists" and the more stories I read the more evidence I see that true journalism is dead.

      There is proof in the pudding that I just made, YOU have not updated or posted a retraction of the false reporting you did in this hub page, not exactly accountable behavior for an award winning journalist.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Well said, Rebecca!

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      As a black woman have to say we have it pretty bad too, but I cannot really get my head around what black men are dealing with. All I know is that the challenges that are above and beyond for those trying to parent black children in this world are absurd and unfair! God bless this poor heartbroken mother and god help those who could give a hoot about her loss but would care if her son was white or had died for this country. ALL MOMS WHO LOSE THEIR CHILDREN SHOULD BE UPHELD!! It is too awful to imagine!

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Someonewhoknows, that is a good point. We should not follow blindly. We should get information for ourselves. Sometimes even the elders can be wrong.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Brian, so that's the best idea you've got?

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      BDO, give that a try to let me know how it turns out for you.

    • profile image

      brian 3 years ago

      I think the police in ferguson should all go undercover as black men.

      I think they can get things calm much quicker with a black faced staff. I think that black skin can help white cops in morevways than we know.

    • profile image

      bdo 3 years ago

      I think a lot of white men would enjoy having black skin. I know there is a difference between being born black and being disguised as black. Robert downey jr was black faced in tropic thunder. Black skin would make pee wee herman look like a tough s.o.b.

      do you know how a white man can go about changing his skin color?

      I wish there was a dark chocolate spray on tan. Safe and affordable.

      do

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Gee, Big Daddy Oero, Never knew I had it so good.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      Advantages of having black skin.

      1 black skin makes you look stronger.

      2 black skin makes you look younger.

      3 black skin reduces your chances of getting robbed.

      4 black skin is good for street protection.

      5 black skin can help with the ladies.

      6. Black skin is good for interacial relations.

      7. Black skin gives you more flexibility on what you can and can not say.

      8. Black skin can keep you safe in jail and in the ghetto or anywhere in the world.

      9. You can protect white people better with a black face.

      I am going to try to go undercover as a black man if it is safe and affordable.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 3 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      There is a problem with some young people in particular when it comes to respect for their elders.Sometimes they are right in disrespecting their elders if,their elders are teaching them to disrespect others based on race creed or religion.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      thanks, for responding, Credence! Nice thoughts.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 3 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Greetings, Rickey, great article! I will have to weigh in with Gregas in that many of these kinds of shootings dealing with other than a white cop and a black victim may well not have been reported to the same extent. . On the Ferguson case, there is a hub pages forum thread from PeoplePower with lively debate. Like you, I am suspicious there were simply too many shots fired over too great a distance to support the officer's explanation. Neither of the shootings were not justified, and the assailant in the Martin case got away based on some twisted concept of self-defense. Is there any law protecting the rights of 17 year old black kid from stalking and harassment? The racial norm in this country automatically assumed that the kid was up to no good and should have submitted to authority. What authority? This assailant was a trigger happy individual looking for a confrontation. I don't believe that provocation was properly addressed. Zimmerman not required to wear a uniform or properly identify himself as part of his job and not standing down when directed by authorities is certainly a factor reducing his credibility.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Thanks for responding, Greg. You make some good points, but I believe police carry the responsibility of having to assess every situation, and person, at value. That is why it is a difficult job, and fortunately, most of them are able to do that. However, there is no room for police who have a quick trigger.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 3 years ago from Corona, California.

      Believe it or not, it's not just unarmed black men. It happens to Mexicans, Asians and Whites too. And I don't mean that in a negative way. This shouldn't be happening to anyone of any race. But, if you put yourself in a cop's position and know that every thug or gang member out there is willing to kill to get away, you just might get a little quick on the trigger too. Just my opinion, Greg.