Changing the Perception, Starts with Changing Ourselves

WARREN
Duke 1

Age: 21
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Education: Earned his Bachelor’s in Sociology from UMD- College Park and is currently getting his Masters in Supply Chain Management at UMUC
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD

 

Lately there has been a lot of press about African American males, specifically young African American males, due to the recent deaths of Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, and Eric Garner from police brutality and excessive force. I am usually not the one to speak on situations that affect the public but being an African American male in today’s society, I feel this is a topic I must express my opinion about. I am not speaking to take sides with anyone because although I am an African American male, I do have a background with working for federal agencies and do get to see the perspective coming from a police officer’s view.

My peers don’t realize the severity of some of the things we do every day, which we think are normal but are wrong, and since no one has told most of us it’s wrong, we continue doing it. Some of these things include cursing out loud in public, sagging our pants, or even caring more about cars, clothes, and jewelry as opposed to getting a good education. I’m not perfect but I do understand that there is a time and a place for everything. I’ve been told that no matter how hard you try to hide, there will always be someone that is watching you and judging you based upon your actions, whether you are with your friends or family.

Duke2Social media and lifestyles, which I believe go hand and hand, are the other areas we must  consider in a time like this. Social media is something that is becoming more and more popular in today’s society. Many of us let social media determine our lifestyle or even use social media to reflect a lifestyle that we really don’t live. I recently heard this statement from a prior conversation and believe it’s true, which is social media is the only time African Americans can come together and keep up with the most recent current events while still being able to express our opinions. It’s very rare you see a young African American male pick up the local newspaper to read about what’s going on around the world such as politics or business. In high school, my 10th grade history teacher use to stand by the stack of local newspapers in front of the school and would watch how almost every male who picked up the newspaper, skip straight to the sports section and throw the rest of the paper away. Its little things like this that reflect our lifestyle to the public because in this case if sports are all you feel you need to know about, then others will be forced to believe that as well. Displaying that we don’t care about education, business, and politics, will give people a reason to judge us and not include us in decisions regarding these topics which have the potential to change our lives more than sports do.

Needless to say, I do not believe killing another person is right, whether that it is black on black crime, white on black crime, or white on white crime, but what I do believe is that we can’t change society until we first learn how to change ourselves. In the future, I plan on changing the perspective of how African American males are perceived in today’s society. Graduating from the University of Maryland in 3 1⁄2 years, going to graduate school, starting my own marketing company (MWA Marketing LLC), and purchasing my first residential investment property are all just a few things I have done at a fairly young age. Some may see this as “being ahead of the game” while I see this as being behind, because there is so much more I feel I need to catch up on. But with a mindset like this, I believe this is just the beginning of something great that God has in store for me and my culture.

 

We are still accepting submissions for this month! If you or anyone you know might be interested in the theme and contributing, feel free to email me at raven.best5@gmail.com!!

Black Men: You Are Loved

Trayvon Martin. Ezell Ford. Eric Garner. Mike Brown.

A few names in an overwhelmingly long list of men who’ve lost their lives due to the color of their skin. Many argue that we live in a post-racial society, that race is not a factor in these types of cases, that race is no longer an issue. Personally, I believe the sentiment that “we don’t see color anymore,” while utopian, is ignorant. A blindfold that enables us to overlook the blatant injustice that still exists. I don’t need to reiterate the statistics that proves while racism is no longer “legal,” it is still present; arguably even more threatening because it has now become covert and institutionalized.

The recent string of black male deaths at the hand of police brutality, while never easier to swallow, are not new. And even scarier is the thought that they are not surprising. Negrophobia is not a new trend or phenomenon, and it is constantly perpetuated in our society. Black men are perceived as a threat before anything else. And those who break that stereotype are considered an anomaly.Black images in the media are very narrow, if not a celebrity, athlete or the token black friend, black men in the public are generally assumed to be criminal or degenerate. And these unfair misconceptions not only reinforce, but *justify* the mistreatment that black men must face.

In seeing the complete character assassination in the news about Mike Brown that ensued after his death, it really hit me how rare it is to see positive and true depictions of black men in the media; and how even rarer to have it come from black men themselves. So, knowing that I created the Free Your Mind Project in the hopes of broadening the perspective of black women, it is only fair that I do the same for our men. So, September will be dedicated to giving voice to the black men who are tired of having to defend themselves against the stereotypes. This month will solely consist of features from black men talking about their lives, their dreams and their opinions. No questions, no specific themes, just unfiltered thoughts.

 

I’m truly excited to share these pieces with you guys and if you or anyone you know would be interested in contributing, feel free to email me at raven.best5@gmail.com


Happy September!