Look at him.
Young, black, and going nowhere.
Stop… and really look at him.
He thinks that he is invisible, that nobody really sees him.
But look again.
There is an angry man inside of him, and maybe the angry man is to blame for the violence that makes society see him as a menace instead of a man.
If you look, really look, you’ll see that his anger is inherent. He began life as the son of an angry, broken black man or the son of a black man who was missing from his life. Poverty and hopelessness made him angrier. And then racism and discrimination turned anger into rage.
Now, look at him.
Who do you see? What do you see?
Do you see him? Do you see the violence, the guns, and the bloodshed? Or could it be that in your eyes, black males and violence are synonymous – one and the same?
He sees himself through your eyes. So, the answers to those questions – who and what you see – have defined who he is and how he sees himself.
He knows who he is. He is a son. A brother. A friend. He is uniquely different. A promise yet to be fulfilled. But, that is not who he sees.
He knows the reality of life for young, black men like him is incarceration and early death, so he sees himself the way you see him – as a statistic.
He knows that murder is the number one cause of death for young black men between the ages of 15 and 34. In fact, young, black males are ten times more likely to die by homicide than white males in the same age group.
He knows that nearly 40 percent of all African Americans who died between the ages of 15 and 34 were victims of homicide, which makes him wonder how society would view this statistic if 40 percent of all white Americans who died between the ages of 15 and 34 were murdered.
He knows that one in three black men can expect to go to prison in his lifetime and that African-Americans are incarcerated at a rate six times higher than white Americans. He knows the statistics and what they mean. Young, black men are targets.
He has not learned to see himself as someone with a future. He has not learned to dream. Nor live.
Look at him.
Who do you see now?
There is an angry man inside him.
Look at him.
This young, black man wants to beat the statistics. He wants to live. So, he’s searching for a way to calm the angry man inside him – searching for a way to get rid of the inherent anger and the anger borne from years of living in a world that does not see him.
But, because he lives in a society where young, black men are targets, he’s always ready. Strapped and waiting for another angry man to ignite the gunfire.