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Many in the black community have hit the streets in protest of the verdict in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, especially in my home state of Florida.
If there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s march. Sometimes that’s all we do. We walk around, wave a few posters, come up with a few chants, pray a little bit, then go back to our normal lives without actually having done anything. Marching and protesting are simply not enough to change injustices in this country.
And after seeing Zimmerman walk free forkilling Trayvon Martin, it’s difficult to trust the legal system to make serious changes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t trust yourself. The only solution I see, as cliché as it sounds, is to be the change you want to see in the world.
I am no spokesperson for all black males or the citizens of Florida. We are not all the same. I can only speak for myself. I would like to see the perception of the black male radically transformed throughout the world, so I must become almost the complete opposite of what this society expects of me. I have to completely avoid the look of the cookie-cut “thug” portrayed constantly in the media — that means no hoodies, sagging pants, excessive jewelry ora menacing mad-at-the-world grimace.
Martin simply wore a hoodie and that was enough for many to profile him as a thug.
As I was growing up, my father told me every black male in the U.S. is born with two strikes: 1. You’re black. 2. You’re male. If you sustain a third strike: prison. He warned by that point, you’re caught in a never-ending system designed for you to fail.
So I plan to avoid prison at all costs. There are too many black males who serve their time and hope for social rehabilitation, only to be met with rejected job applications and harsh judgments. This leads to desperation, which can lead to illegal activities and for some, a path right to back to prison.
I plan to continue to earn an education and push my own intellectual boundaries to discover more ways to assist my community, by writing stories, like this one. If I can provide coverage of the black community that is more than negativity, violence, incarceration and death, the media landscape could show the world a more complete version of black males.
I plan to serve my community with kindness and humbleness, helping those less fortunate than I am with the hopes of setting a positive example for other black males to follow. I realize this is no easy task as decades of injustice and self-destruction have traumatized the black community. But perhaps if I prove to be an effective example for at least one black male, or change one person’s negative impression of us, I could prevent another Trayvon Martin tragedy from happening.