We are so bombarded with negative images and commentary about young Black males that it takes effort to counteract the constant news flashes of them in chains before a judge or being loaded in a police car.
I am taking the effort tonight to tell my story. Last night after a horrendous flight on Delta Airlines from Chicago to Atlanta I struggled to walk to get to my car in the parking lot. Many people walked right by me without even a glance of concern (where was ABC’s John Quionnes for this one?) but two young Black males helped me not only get on the escalator but also ran ahead to catch my bag which I had thrown on earlier.
Now if I had just looked at their dress or age group or race I would have expected them to pass me by too, but they did not. These young men stopped and helped and then went on their way. It felt so natural; I believe their parents taught them respect and manners.
Even though they wore the baseball cap and were not spiffy in their dress, they defied stereotype hype and helped me just like a caring gentle-man would. I owe it to them to say “thank you.”
Instead of bending to fear based on stereotypes, I willingly accepted their help.
There is a story circulating around about a women who won a big jackpot in Las Vegas. She decided to take her winnings to her room, but as she entered the elevator there stood two tall Black males and one said “hit the floor.” The white woman fearing for her safety fell down and lost all of her coins while the men laughed uncontrollably. After the elevator door opened they helped her pick up her coins and put them back in her bucket while still laughing hysterically as they went down the hall to their room. The next morning the woman received a humongous bunch of roses with a hundred dollar bill attached to each rose with a note, “Thanks for the best laugh we have ever had. Signed Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan.”
Don’t stereotype – there are so many good young Black men in this world that are overlooked in the media and in our communities. Praise them and let’s change this violent mass image that we often see and read about.
Send in your comments and positive stories about Black youth and Black men.
I am not denying that there is an epidemic of crime committed by young Black males. What I am saying is that we should not typecast every person in that classification as thugs. I do not and nor should you.
Recommended Reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press:2010) by Michelle Alexander.