Being a Black Male in America
So my son watched Fruitvale Station for the first time last night. So much of what's happening in the world right now provokes long difficult conversations with my teenager. It's tough to know where to begin, knowing that his innocence and youth keep his concerns extremely basic. My world is consumed with injustices and news that angers and outrages me via social media and the TV. And there are many people who are tired of hearing about police brutality every day. In fact, most of the time I see Facebook posts about another young, unarmed, black kid being shot by an officer, it barely attracts any comments or likes anymore. It just happens so much that the desensitization is real. The fact that human beings can be desensitized by unarmed kids of any race getting gunned down is sad and pathetic.
If you're also a young black male though or have one around you that you really care about, you're probably not turning a blind eye to this treatment by law enforcement. Pretty much as soon as I became of age to be out without my parents, I started having police view me a certain way and threaten me. Taking a walk on a busy night on South Street would be enough to get you yelled and cursed at by the Philadelphia PD. They may even put hands on you. In fact, I can remember 2 cops stopping me on foot near my house after I got done a DJ gig. I was 15 years old and they felt I shouldn't be out after 9pm so they questioned me and threatened to arrest me since I didn't have an ID on me. As soon as I started driving at 16, police would stop me and question me in South Philly. In typical fashion, as a newby, I'd be a textbook driver with my hands at 10 and 2 o'clock on the wheel. Complete stops at every intersection and minding the speed limit. Still being pulled over though. The fact that I'm still breathing and haven't been in jail, I attribute to the fact that my parents taught me that the police are a gang and not to challenge these guys. Even if I'm within my legal rights to. It just doesn't make sense to let my ego or emotions get me murdered.
I get tired of hearing police explain how threatened they feel and why they feel justified in threatening or killing young black men first. You signed up for your job. I didn't sign up to be a black male so spare me. I don't hope to accomplish some new level of understanding with this blog post. I don't even expect you to read it all. After all, there are black and blue dresses to argue about. I just have shit to say and I feel there are things going on in the world that constantly distract us from what everyone should be genuinely concerned about. I'm DJing the opening of Dice Raw's "Hip Hop Musical," The Last Jimmy, tomorrow night at the Prince Theatre. The play sheds light on some of the problems with the prison industrial complex in this country and explores some of these issues.
Here are 3 of my favorite moments highlighting this issue in cinema. Fiction imitating reality...