On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old unarmed African American teen, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman was put on trial, but was not held accountable for his actions. Since then, it seems like young black men have been unlawfully killed at an astonishing rate. Sadly, this has become somewhat of a norm within the African American community.
Being a young African American teen myself, it feels like everyday there is another unarmed black man being shot, who could have been my brother or even my cousin. How would you feel if almost everyday you had to call your family to make sure that your male relatives were still alive?
That is just a little glimpse of what it feels like to live in this country as a black person today.
With that being said, I think that it is time for us, the black youth, to step up and make a change. It all starts with us, we are what is going to determine whether the black community continues to be buried in this grave of unjust treatment or rises above it.
“If you look now, the African American community does not have great leaders, and that is kind of disturbing. In the ‘60s and ‘70s we had strong leaders who were able to make a difference in not just our community but the world. They are not here anymore,” said career tech teacher, Lanisce Jones.
Back then there were young people like Freeman A. Hrabowski and Michael Thelwell standing up for what is right, regardless of their age. Nowadays, there is a lack of leadership and awareness of just how powerful our education of the world we live in can benefit us. Somethings need to change.
There needs to be a stronger appreciation for education with the black community, especially from the youth.
“Sometimes I think, young African American males specifically, see education as a sell out and they don’t see the importance of it. They think there is no need for it. We are conforming to a way of thinking that is not productive. They don’t value it very well,” said Jones.
There is this concept within the black community that if you are smart, then you are not cool or even black. I personally have had many friends tell me that I “act white” just because I speak English properly and have good grades. This has to stop! There is no reason why a black person should be considered “white” because they do not conform to the black stereotypes.
The education of the youth, will help create leadership within the black community. If we start to value our schools and places of learning, then we can become leaders and start to make a change.
Without it, we will become insignificant.
“That [the absence of education and leadership] will have a devastating effect. We would have so many opportunities cut off, we will be minimized to what we can do, as a group. Economically we wouldn’t have an impact other than consumers, so it is very important,” said Jones.
Now is not the time for us to sit back and let these cruel acts of mistreatment happen to our brothers and sisters. It is the acts of the young men and women who are apart of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the student led protest at schools like Archer High School, that will make this generation a generation of fight and will. A generation that has zero tolerance for the shootings and killings of unarmed black men. It is time for us to step and make something of ourselves, our else we will be the ones who will live in the grave that this country is digging for us.
In the words of Donny Hathaway, “To be young gifted and black, is where its at.”