Proving Them All Wrong

DAVIAN davian3

Age: 21
Occupation: 1st Grade Teacher at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School
Hometown: Washington, DC/Oxon Hill, MD

 

Life as a Black man in the U.S. has been a definite struggle but I would never change any part of who I am, even if it means that my life would be “easier.” Growing up in SouthEast DC, one of the poorest predominantly Black cities in the U.S. and moving to Prince George’s County, Maryland, one of the most affluent majority-Black counties in the country has come with it’s fair share of trials and tribulations. I love who I am. Where I come from. What I represent. But to some, who I am, where I come from, and what I represent does not sit well with them and they feel threatened by my mere existence. Stereotypes, judgements, perceptions. I would be a fool not acknowledge that Black men are targets for destruction in today’s society and the truth is being a black, Christian“gay” male doesn’t many things any easier for me. The intersection of these identities has presented a plethora of very unique and challenging experiences throughout my life. But I can’t help who I am or how other people judge me..and honestly, I couldn’t give a shit.

davian4Recently, it “seems” as though more and more black males have been the victim of senseless acts of violence, racism, and discrimination but this isn’t necessarily true. It isn’t that it’s happening more often, but more often it is coming to the light of public acknowledgement. It is sad to say that this is nothing new and to some it’s the norm. But why is this the case? You would think that after slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago, the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago, and the election of this country’s FIRST Black president 6 years ago, that we would see progress. Indeed, some progress has been made but it has been very, very miniscule. The truth is…shit hasn’t changed.

Hearing stories like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jonathan Ferrell, Eric Garner (the list goes on and on…and on) truly disgust me. Why am I still more likely to get pulled over? Why am I still more likely to get arrested? Why am I still more likely to serve more time in jail? Why am I still more likely to be shot and killed by an officer (a white officer)? It seems like no one can give me a true/valid answer. Nowadays, Cops are not shooting to wound or apprehend. They are shooting to KILL! Their force is excessive. Why? Because they are threatened. But why are they threatened? Because Black men are stereotypically labeled as aggressive, negligent, killing

machines. Black men are constantly demonized and criminalized. We are not provided the same opportunities as other men and when we are,Davian2 we have to fight for the leftovers.

Even after attending the University of Maryland, College Park, a mixing bowl of students of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, abilities, sexual orientations, backgrounds, lifestyles, etc. I could not forget that it is still a predominantly white institution. I truly enjoyed my experience there and the people I have met but I will never forget the subtle signs of racism, the stares when I was the only Black male in my engineering courses, the white female students who crossed the street when they saw me coming, the group of drunk white guys who didn’t think I heard them call me a nigga or a fag on the Quad. It could have been so easy for me to look down on white people as a group for the poor actions some of them have made but that wouldn’t make any sense. Just how all Black men should not be ridiculed for the poor actions that other Black have men have made (rape, murder, abuse, theft, etc.)

Last October, I joined the 2014 Teach For America DC Corps and I am currently a 1st grade teacher at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School in SouthEast, DC. Of a staff of almost 50, I’m one of three males of color. In a field where white females are the majority and less than 2% of teachers in the U.S. are Black men, I feel even more marginalized. Black male over-representation in the U.S. prison system and under-representation in the U.S. school system has always been a painful nerve in the back of my head. But that makes my job so much more important for not only me but for my students. It’s important for my students (who are majority Black) to know that black men can be teachers. We are not all aggressive. We are not all gangbangers. We are not all drug dealers. We are not all NFL/NBA players. They all have a “choice” in what they want to be when they grow up but it will not be easy. They have to fight back. They have to advocate for themselves. But in a very proactive, productive, and non-violent way because if they choose the opposite, we will only be acting as the fools they predicted us to behave as.

davian1I know people didn’t expect me to make it this far. To make it past my teen years. To graduate from high school as Salutatorian. To attend a predominantly white university on a full ride and graduate on time. To start my master’s program in education at Johns Hopkins University. But that’s fine. I’m not going to stop until I get my PhD and become another black man who they address as “doctor”.

 

Want to reach out to Davian? Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @davey_divito or Email him at davianmorgan1@gmail.com

Advertisements

Life As A Black Male

CHRISTOPHER  suited

Age: 22
Occupation: Field Coordinator
Education: Studied Government and Politics at the University of Maryland- College Park
Hometown: Hempstead, NY

Life as a Black male in America is honestly the most confusing experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Black. I love my heritage, I love my history, and I love the strength that it gives me. You would think there wouldn’t be much confusion there with all of that. But for me, the confusion really comes from so many external factors. Some argue that a true love of oneself is all they need to be successful. However, the outside forces that work against black males in America can be so strong, it’s frightening at times.

A clear example of this is the treatment of the black male in society, through the media, social institutions, and law enforcement. To our communities, Black Males are an important pillar of what makes them thrive. We are encouraged to make our contribution to our communities through hard work, leadership, and passing down lessons learned to the next generation of young black men. The issue here is that there are so many things that are stacked against us from doing that.

It is hard for us to obtain a good education because schools, especially in inner city communities, are ill equipped. It is hard for some black men to obtain the finances need to pursue higher education. In entertainment and the media, I find that black men are portrayed in very one-dimensional capacities. I also feel that many of the historical profiles of black men, such as the Sambo and the Brute, have been reformed and modernized to fit changes in society. Our entertainment, music, films, and television, has not progressed to the point where black males can escape the stereotypes that are often put upon them through these mediums.

on thee micOur struggles with law enforcement are well documented. Black males are egregiously over policed and incarcerated at rates higher than any other race. Black males are given longer sentences for lesser crimes. Even one encounter with the justice system can ruin a black man’s life chances. Police Departments across America, on multiple occasions, have used over-excessive force on black males. Some have which have resulted in loss of black male life.

These problems are not anything new. These are issues that our parents, grandparents, and beyond them have had to deal with growing up in this country. I said before that being a black male is this country is a very confusing experience. We are pulled in two very different directions in life. Black males spend most of their lives either working to assimilate themselves into American culture, to remove the fear that others have of us. Or, we spend it rebelling against the nation which has left subject to this mistreatment, often resorting to violence and lives of crime in order to succeed, because legitimate means do prove to be as fruitful. I often contemplate what I should do, especially in times like these.

I am even more confused by the fact that even though we black males do try and abide by society’s rules, we are often met with opposition with trying to do the right thing. We are simultaneously spurred to do right and do wrong based on our external environments. I pray that one day it gets better for us. I pray that one day my skin color will no longer be a threat some. I pray that I will be able to complete daily mundane tasks, such as going to the store or traveling to visit family, without being in fear of my life. I pray that one day, the mere presence of law enforcement will no longer be something that I fear or dread. I pray for the day where we will no longer have to deal with another Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, and any other black life that were taken from us way too soon.

While I still remained confused about where we should go from here, I do know that we as black males must band together and remain extremely persistent as our forefathers have been. It may be the only way to obtain the results that we require.

 

Follow Christopher @brosephchillaxton2 on Instagram!