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It Is Not What We Say to Black Men, It Is What We Do to Them

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He’s grown accustomed to this. Now, when he comes home from college, he says he has trouble trusting some of his most well-intentioned neighbors when he is standing in a group of young black men on his street. I understand why. James Baldwin, the late famous black novelist, essayist and public intellectual, pegged it when he wrote: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” Oftentimes, what his neighbors do is cross the street when they see him coming.

In response, I have done all I can to make it easier for him. Six years ago, when he was home on summer break from boarding school, I sent an email to the neighbors who may not know: “Don’t be alarmed if you see a black kid walking around; he’s my son and he lives here.”

For all the women who stand in my shoes, it’s hard to believe that race didn’t play a role in Trayvon’s death. I feel deeply for Travyon’s mother; she’s living my worst fear.

I also feel that this is not just a lack and white issue. These are the same concerns for Latino mothers in Arizona, Alabama and any place there are ill-conceived immigration policies enforced. I sympathize with any parent who is Arab, Muslim or South Asian who anxiously waits at the airport, wondering what harassment their children may face because of the name on their tickets or how they are dressed.

We cannot be satisfied with legal equality when for many of us, it is of limited value in the face of our actual day-to-day experience. Unless Americans work together to end the practice of racial profiling – not just in law enforcement but in the larger social fabric – the precautions I and many other parents of color take may never be enough.

Another Parent’s View

By William Psillas

I write from a different perspective. As Laura’s husband, I am the stepfather of this same young Black man. In contrast to Laura’s history, I am an ordinary white male. So the concerns I have – and the questions they raise, in our own family unit, in this young Black man’s life, and, as a microcosm, in the American experience at large –are different.

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70 comments

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3:43PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Don,t know why the pale skinned people think they are superior than others. They have however made the best killing weapons and therefore hold the upper hand.

3:43PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Don,t know why the pale skinned people think they are superior than others. They have however made the best killing weapons and therefore hold the upper hand.

7:37AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Most black people can not trace their family tree..... that was taken from them when they were kidnapped and sold. ------- many can not trace their family tree because at least one of their ancestors was a white man who arranged to have the infant sent to another county and sold so as not to dirty their good name by letting it be known they used the slaves for their sexual fun....
As a people we should be trying to give back what we can of what was taken from them, we can not turn back history and change it, but instead of accusing our brothers and sisters of trying to "take the system for all they can" maybe we could show some love, act as if we FINALLY figured out the prior treatment of them was wrong and treat them as fellow human beings instead of saying that because of what our ancestors did to them they are less than really human........
Do you also believe that antisemitism is caused by those who say the Nazis were wrong???

7:36AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

".." we can all see that you are strong in your beliefs----- you will not even give us the consideration of a made-up name but feel that ".." is enough and we are to accept your twisted views as the real thing........... I do not for a minute believe that the issue with racism is that black people are trying to play the system for all they can get.... the main problem is folks who think that !!!
Generations ago our ancestors treated their ancestors in a disgusting manner ----- ripped them from their natural life within their villages and families/ put them in chains, on a ship, took them 1/2 way around the world and sold them as if they were property/less than human. The new owners were either kindly or not.... consider today, how there are all those jokes and comments about shepherds having sex with the sheep and the like......... Some of the owners used the females as sex slaves, they had no rights, and if a man got his jollies by beating a woman almost to death or even cutting into their flesh with a knife and having sex with the wound so be it...... these were human beings treated so incredibly badly at the hands of other humans.... some just bred them to whomever (like a puppy mill operation) to 'improve the breed' and would take and sell off their children for profit.
Most black people can not trace their family tree..... that was taken from them when they were kidnapped and sold. ------- many can not trace their family tree because at least one of their ancest

5:05AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Ernest..... you claim that black people are more violent because there are so many in prison..... yes statically there is a much higher percentage of blacks in prison than whites.... partly due to finance, partly due to racism NOT because being black means you are a violent criminal but because blacks are viewed as 'a problem', less deserving of the good things in life, unclean, and despised by so many whites. ------- to follow your (flawed) logic........... Americans as a nation should not be allowed to travel to other countries. The United States has the highest prison population in the world, almost double what other countries have.... so Americans are basically ALL violent criminals and should not be allowed in polite society (read in civilized countries).
Everyone should try to love their fellow humans, not always attempt to abuse and degrade them, in an attempt to make ourselves look better..... such behavior is disgusting.

11:29PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

This is just saying it like it is ...the kids need to be told they are in danger and that the world is racist - being politically correct and pretending the world is an equal place is not sensible.

8:43PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Stephen B.. “Second, does treating every interracial killing as a hate-crime help or hinder anti-racist efforts? “ That is not the case. Only when bkacks are killed by whites is it advertised as a hate crime. When blacks kill whites or other blacks, it is virtually ignored.



8:36PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Jane B.. “Nobody wants to kill their own relatives.” Sorry Jane. There is a reason that the first suspect in a murder is a spouse or other family member. Beige people kill each other every day.

8:32PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Nyack C.. “Does the WHITE community need to get their young criminals off the streets” That might not be a bad idea, especially if the white kids had as high a proportion of criminals, “gangstas” car boosters, Crips and Bloods gangs etc as the black kids. Or perhaps you are not aware that that is the case ? Judging people by the color of their skin rather than their actions as you do is racist, -(and you are apparently too ignorant to realise it)





7:23PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Intermarriage is the answer. Nobody wants to kill their own relatives. In the future everybody will be beige.

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