My baby brother just turned 21 years old. I worry about that young man all the time. I have been worried about that kid every day since he turned 12 and went to middle school. He’s a good kid. He goes to Memphis University. He wants to be a writer and even has a blog for a class assignment. He’s one of the coolest, most laid back kids you will ever meet. I don’t remember a time I have ever seen him angry. He’s got a lot of potential and I hope he lives a long life and get to see it blossom. There’s nothing worse than seeing young men leave the Earth no knowing what could be. Young men like my brother can appear to be both predator and prey for different people and both views put them in danger. That’s why the last few weeks have been so disheartening.
My brother could have easily been Ricky Summers of New Orleans who was killed behind an abandoned building on his way to tutoring one Saturday morning. I don’t how many times young men are in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught up in some altercation that they can’t avoid at that moment. That happened to be once or twice. I remember when I was 18 and caught a ride to work from a childhood friend who decided to “make a stop right quick” and handle some drug business while I’m sitting downstairs in his car. I never accepted another ride again but that one time could have been the last time I had the chance to learn.
My brother could be Wendell Allen of New Orleans who was killed by a New Orleans Police Department while standing unarmed at the top of the stairwell of his home. Some police officers are scared of young black men. You have to be careful not to show any aggression or you could get shot or hurt really bad. When you are a young man like Mr. Allen or my brother you have to try and not make any sudden moves that give them any reason to act against you. The goal is just make it through the experience safely.
My brother could have been Trayvon Martin too but I am not sure how to avoid what happened to that young man. I could show him how to watch out for thugs or guys that may be up to no good. I could teach him how to handle himself when pulled over by police officers. I’m not sure how to handle being stalked in your dad’s neighborhood walking home from the store by a crazy man looking for trouble. He can kill you and claim self defense even though he was the one with the gun following you down the street. I can’t imagine what his parents are thinking. For what happened to their son they could have just lived in the hood and not a gated community. I guess the lesson to be learned is that even if your lifestyle doesn’t fit the profile you still fit the profile. That’s depressing, disheartening, disappointing and a hard dose of reality in the President Obama era of post racial talk.
I guess the best advice I can give my brother and all the young men around his age is to watch out for everything and never assume things can’t happen to you.