For centuries, the black family has been under attack. From slavery, through emancipation, through the civil rights era– which claimed the lives of two of America’s finest men (Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X), championing the plight of the black community and humanity to prevent tragedies like these– black folks were not quick to call themselves Americans because we have quietly accepted ourselves as “behind enemy lines.” With the entire nation outraged over the murder of Trayvon Martin, there may finally be a cultural comprehension, by all Americans, of what the black family has experienced historically and presently in this country.
Wendy Ealy Walker is a mother living outside Atlanta, Georgia, who has a 14-year old son of her own. She, like many other black mothers prior to the Martin case, has given instructions to her son to “go with what the cop says, do not argue” with law enforcement when he encounters them…which he has. Her devastation over Martin’s murder renews her latent fears of the targeting of her own son. She told Nightly News:
“That could be my own son, minding his own business, doing his own thing, never thinking that anyone would do him harm…it makes me angry and very frightened.”
Through this case, we are transported in time to the murder of 14-year-old Emmet Till in August of 1955. The horror of his murder has rippled through the black family in America for all of these years up to Walker’s instructions to her own 14-year old son in 2012. His murder as well as many before him were the reason that black leaders of the past fought so hard to change the judicial system. They knew the saying that “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Columnist Charles Blow of the New York Times spoke to Nightly News as well and coined this experience as “the burden of black boys.” He wrote in his article “The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin”:
“That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.”
After this, racial profiling can never be considered a myth again. If so, we are in a more “inglorious spot” than even Claude McKay could have ever imagined. Check out the report below.