African-American males are part of an equation and they don’t even know it.
I call it the self-fulfilling prophecy of thug. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, especially in light of the Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin murder trials but also because of the Marcus Smart incident. What happened with Marcus Smart sheds some light on how it all begins.
Rap music is thug music; all black men like rap music; therefore, all black men are thugs.
It starts with a preconception, a presumption. And what follows are the contrived opinions and judgments that are based solely on those preconceived notions. There is no objective, empirical or scientific knowledge gathered, no studies to base those assumptions on but rather just the simple prejudices of a feeble mind are the sole driving force behind the actions of such people. And there’s always a catalyst in the situation; a person or persons fueling events like some sort of chemical reagent working to produce a sought after reaction.
Trayvon Martin had George Zimmerman stoking the pot that led to his death and Jordan Davis had Michael Dunn. Marcus Smart had Jeff Orr as his catalyst and was lucky enough to live through his altercation but that’s only because he had a stadium full of witnesses on hand. Had he encountered Orr on an empty street, it might have been a different story.
The problem is that there’s little training that can prepare you for the individual, that one person who’ll say, or do, just enough to push you over the edge. You see, just as much as you’ve been practicing the discipline of maintaining your cool and being courteous or professional in all things, they’ve, on the other hand, been studying on the many ways to make you lose it. It’s a vicious circle that exists primarily for African American males both young and old but it’s also a playbook that can be opened and used at any time and anywhere against just about anyone for that matter.
A sad but true statement: some folks are automatically “concerned” when they interact with black males; their thinking being that we’re just waiting for an excuse to hurt someone because, obviously (they can see I’m a black man), we can’t control our emotions. They routinely mistake passion (white) for aggression (black) and economy in speech and actions (white) for either unfriendliness or lack of professionalism (black).
It’s time to flip the script, so to speak. And it’s a lesson that I hope young African-American males learn. Don’t beat them up but beat them at their own game. Kill those who would do you harm with kindness and smother them with competence. And in the end when all is said and done and they’re looking at you all googly-eyed and sputtering not knowing what to say or do because you’ve given them nothing to dog you with, take them out with a better than average vocabulary, good common sense and a decent education.
It’s not hard to create our own playbook and in lieu of such recent happenings, it’s not only good common sense to do so but also a matter of survival.