Aaden Quadi Brown was born on June 14th, 2011. Since birth he’s had a coolness about him that I probably lacked as a child. He’s almost 6 now as I write this. He is lean and tall, for his age. He likes to read, play and do all the normal things kids his age do. He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he is polite and well mannered. He is loved dearly. I should know because, I have the pleasure of being his father. A father that will one day have to explain to him the world we live in. Explain to him that his light brown skin color; is enough to get him killed. I have to explain to him that the sins of the nation he calls home. Seem to only be passed on to black people. The very same people those sins were committed against. Our ancestors suffered unimaginably, you’d think America would feel so ashamed of their past. That they’d do all they could to not repeat it in the future. I love Aaden, his mother loves him, my mother loves him, my father loves him and so on. The thought of losing him at the hands of anyone, is a thought I can’t imagine. The thought of losing him at the hands of police is even more of a harsh reality. A reality many of us in Black America may one day be forced to come to grips with.
Jordan Edwards was once a 6-year-old. Loved by his father, loved by his mother, loved by his grandmother, loved by his grandfather and so on. Jordan was murdered on April 30th, 2017. Jordan was 15. He was shot by a police officer, who shot bullets into a moving car he was in. The car was being driven by Jordan’s brother. Initially, the officer claimed the car Jordan was in was driving towards the police. Giving them reason to shoot (which still wouldn’t justify use of force). Body cam footage later confirmed the car Jordan was in was driving in reverse, away from the party and away from police. Jordan Edwards was shot in the head, instantly killing him. He was a straight A student, polite, well-mannered and loved. The same qualities Aaden shares now. I can’t imagine the pain his parents feel and I pray to God I never have too. Jordan and his brother went to a house party. The party got loud and neighbors called police. Police arrived and reported hearing shots being fired. This sent them into a panic and I can only assume caused them to look for the first black faces they saw. Of course, “standard protocol”, you hear gun shots look for the first black guys you see. The idea that we can raise well-mannered, polite kids, who respect the law and the people around them. But yet they still can be murdered by those sworn to uphold the very law they respect. Places myself and fathers like me in an extremely tough predicament. How do we protect our children, when what they fear isn’t their attitude or lack of manners? What they fear is our children’s skin tone and the perceptions that come with it.
The tipping point is defined as the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place (Merriam Webster). We are either at or reaching our tipping point. How many more of our children must be murdered? Everyone has a breaking point. Revolutions have started for less and civil wars for even lesser. I don’t say this as a divisive measure. I say this because you are leaving the black, brown, poor and disenfranchised, little to no choice. You say use the system, you tell us you’re not your parents. You use illogical rationale; to help explain your standing in this country. You worked hard you say. You stayed out of trouble you say. This is the reason your successful. You fail to acknowledge the obstacles faced by your opponent or competition. You were taught your superiority through your youth. You attended better schools and lived in better neighborhoods. You lived in two parent homes. You vacationed every year. Your mother and father worked hard and your upbringing led to you having a great adult life. Subconsciously, you feel your better. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve had the best of everything. Those who didn’t, just didn’t work hard enough you rationed. Then you became an adult. Where you were exposed to the atrocities that other people different from you face every day. You can’t believe it’s the same America. But you do nothing. Doing something threatens your subconscious superiority. You’d rather keep that intact, then to ever stand up for the injustices you see. This is why you stay back and don’t protest. It isn’t that you aren’t appalled. It isn’t that many of you don’t feel our pain. Many of you are fathers and mothers yourselves. Our plight isn’t something new. Our existence is a threat to your perceived superiority. You’ve been taught that you are better and that the “excuses” we make, for our struggles are nothing but exaggerations. You’re not racist, you just hide behind them because not doing so. Well, it means you aren’t who you think you are. Black success is a threat. No, you aren’t racist but you enable the ones that are.
This isn’t the 60’s and I say that with all due respect. There are no peaceful movements to be had. We’ve tried that to no avail. There is no hunger strike to be had. This country is slowly becoming a powder keg. Doomed to explode. This isn’t hyperbole. It comes a time in every man’s life, where he looks toward the future. Hoping to leave a better place for his son’s and daughter’s. Despite the stereotypes, Black Americans are a civil group of people. If we weren’t, this country wouldn’t have had the success it’s had. It was our willingness to forgive our oppressors that moved this country forward. I’m not quite sure will be as forgiving this time. Especially, as you watched our sons and daughters be slaughtered. You secluded yourselves into your little suburban enclaves or gentrified renamed neighborhoods, were we use to live. You feel safe and protected. You elected a President who has launched an all-out assault on the poor. You say and do nothing. You check your 401k and savings. Valuing your money over humanity. You think your safe and only wish to make America great again. When has America ever been anything but a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, bigoted country? You are less safe now, then you’ll ever be. I often wonder what angers extremists so much that they terrorize entire countries. I ignorantly dismiss them as crazy or lunatic. But how’d they get there. Hate is a learned behavior. Where’d they learn it? Then I look at America’s history and how we’ve found ways to terrorize almost every group of people in this world. The same country who dropped a nuclear bomb on a surrendering opponent. The same country that has never acknowledged or apologized for slavery. In fact, doing so would have made us eligible for reparations. Instead, they gave out subsides and talked down on us in Washington after.
Don’t shoot my son. I can’t promise what I’ll do if you did and I’m sure other parents feel the same. We are raising great brown boys and girls. We aren’t raising them to be target practice. We are at the mark of a revolution. America continues to thumb its nose at the minority in this country. Jordan Edwards lived 15 years. Exactly half of my life and 9 years older than my son. The idea that in 9 years my child will be tall enough and brown enough to be considered a threat. Gives me chills. I’m tired of it all. I’m sure I’m traumatized to a degree. I’m a black man myself. I’ve dealt with being black in America. My entire life. I’ve navigated many traps and pitfalls. Some of it because of the lessons of my parents and the rest of it due to God’s favor. You love your sons and daughters; the same way we do. Imagine white boys and white girls being slaughtered because of their lack of melanin. The thought seems preposterous. You couldn’t fathom why white skin would ever be a threat to anyone. Unfortunately, that is our reality. Don’t shoot my son and stop supporting a system that shoots young teenage black kids. You aren’t absolved of any guilt because you didn’t get your hands dirty. There is no middle here. You are either for the improvement of race relations in America or you are not. If you are, prove it, with your time and prove it with your resources. Don’t shoot any of our sons and don’t stand silent when this country does, either.
Check out episode 1 of my podcast Eighteen37thepodcast here (1837) for more thought provoking content.