Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dead Man Walking

This morning on my way to work, I saw three policemen questioning two black male teenagers at the Metro stop. I looked at them and kept walking. It was nothing that I hadn’t seen before and it was nothing that I’m sure that I won’t see again. I was immune. I had no reaction to it.

A talented NFL player, Sean Taylor was fatally shot in his home. The allegedly burglary gone wrong, turned homicide was orchestrated and executed by several black teens.

Several weeks ago the DC Department of Health released a study that showed that HIV/AIDS is impacting African Americans in Washington, DC at horrifying rates, worse than any other city in America and similar to the statistics you would find in sub-Saharan African nations. I was not shocked by these numbers and I am sure that I will see again. I was immune to what I read. I had no reaction to it.

I wondered this morning, hours after I saw those young black boys, weeks after I had read those statistics, if those black males were dead men walking. After further analysis I wonder if I, HIV negative, no criminal history, on my way to being middle income, masters degree holding, world traveling, connoisseur of arts and literature, politically minded and engaged, 28 year old black male is the one who is really a dead man walking.

Often I have looked at other black males, my age, younger and older and judged them and their situations. I have looked at my brothers and thrown my hands up. Equally, I have looked at some and extended my hand. But where has that gotten them, me, us? Maybe we are all dead.

Maybe the rap music finally got us. Maybe the super prison that were built for us have eaten us all up. Maybe the decline of the once all mighty black church has led to the decline in the life expectancy of black males. Maybe the hundreds of years of the battle to fight institutional racism is finally over and the black man has just lost. Maybe the gains of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s – three decades of progress were completely tarnished by one decade of a dangerous white rock that was like kryptonite to our community, our culture and our people. Maybe the increase in black men serving time in prison and the decrease in black men attending college means this is the end.

I must ask this.

Are the dead men walking the men who are unemployed, not taking care of their children, illiterate and in prison? Or are the dead men walking the men who are employed, not in jail, taking care of their children and those of other men, literate not in prison and not doing shit about the brothers that are?