Like many of you, I’ve shed tears watching the travesties of justice that are the Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham stories unfold before our very eyes. These tales strike an all-too familiar chord: I’ve spoken candidly about the effect of my cousin’s murder many years ago. The anger and rage and devastation and pure disenchantment have at times been suffocating.
The video below was created after weeks of media coverage of the Trayvon Martin story: the questions; the audio tapes of a helpless scream followed by a gunshot and then silence; rising anger; marches and protests; the family of the murderer defending… murder; more anger; a carefully crafted character assassination attempt of a dead teenager; and then… the outright suggestion that a young Black boy could be killed for simply walking in a neighborhood and “looking the part.”
We must take back our image and reject the notion that a young black man is a walking bulls-eye. It is not enough to be angry. We must fight for the young man who goes out into the world each day in fear of being who he is. These are our brothers and sons and neighbors and friends. Remind these young men that they are more than what the world perceives, and capable of much more than what many believe.
Only when we weave these messages into the mindsets of our young men of color will we “transform pain and anger into power and action,” as my great aunt always says.
Please watch. And tell a young man of color that he is worthy of praise, not fear. Tell him that he is perfect, yet urge him to strive for perfection. And that the arrogance of those who doubt him is no match for his brilliance.
-L. Antonio Thompson