Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is the value of a colored boy's life?







If you put a dollar value to the material components of the human body, you may come up with $4.50? The average life-time earnings of a person in America is $1.6 million. If you consider the untold grief that love ones must endure after a young person’s death and the undetermined potential of the deceased, this could be priceless.



Like most Americans and, especially, those of color, I was deeply hurt by the knowledge of the death of young Trayvon Martin. And like most in the black community, I discussed this issue with friends and family. I talked to coworkers and strangers via social media. I even participated in the DC Trayvon Rally a week ago.


Of late, I read of death threats against the life of George Zimmerman, the accused shooter of Trayvon. The New Black Panther Party has placed a bounty on Zimmerman’s head. The social media is abuzz about the case and the President of the United States was compelled to comment about the unfortunate incident in Sandford, Florida. He went on to say that if he had a son that he would look like young Trayvon.


Mainstream media has stated that Trayvon Martin is this generation’s Emmitt Till. Fourteen year old Till was a victim of a heinous murder by whites in Mississippi in 1955.


However, after all the pain that I felt from another young black male losing his life, I found myself, oddly, feeling perplexed by the amount of attention this case has gotten. I was struck by the fact that I live in Washington, DC, a city that was once known, not only as the nation’s capital and of the free world, but as the “murder capital”. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports of 2010 (FBI), there were 132 murders committed. I remember in 1993, how concerned I was that I could be one of the 454 folks that were killed
in my hometown. Yet, I can’t remember this city getting the amount of attention for the hundreds that were killed compared to the amount of coverage that the Martin’s case is receiving.


The FBI report delineated the sections of town were most of the murders took place and not too surprising to many, most of the murders took place in the heavily African-American populated East of the Anacostia River, where historically, the income per capita and educational levels are the lowest in the city.


Politicians delight gleefully in the opportunity to take advantage of a catastrophic situation to advance their standing in the polls. Not being a politician, I want to take advantage of Trayvon’s death too, but for a different reason. I want to highlight the thousands of youth of color that are killed every year in the streets of urban America. Youth who are killed, not by the George Zimmermans of the world, but by other youth of color.


I hope that Rev. Al, the NAACP, the New Black Panther Party, MSNBC, the black and Latino communities who decry the senseless killing of young Trayvon will seize the international awareness that this case has garnered and begin a national movement to address the gang and drug-related killings among our own. All too often, we are ready to act-up when we are offended by the white/anglo community, but are dormant when it comes to offenses in our own community by its members. Funny, I’m reminded as a kid of being ready to fight any other kid who dared put a finger on my brother, yet I felt no compunction about smacking him around
myself.


Communities of color in America must take a strong and united position on offenses against our communities by friend or foe, black or white to protect the security of our future, thereby protecting the security of this nation. We must be the first to assure our communities are properly educated for the new economic reality and our streets are safe to walk. No one
else has that responsibility first, but us!


So, I ask again, what is the value of a colored boy's life?

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