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When can we rest?

ELINOR R. TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 4/12/2012, 1:12 p.m.
When guidance counselors need to care

We are angry. We are fed up. We are mothers. We are fathers. We are sisters. We are brothers. We are daughters. We are sons. We are cousins. We are uncles. We are neighbors and we are friends--and we all mourn the loss of our young ones who die senseless deaths because this country has let racism be the guide for "justice."

Two weeks ago, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in cold blood by a Florida vigilante, George Zimmerman, who said, "This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is."

A few minutes later, this 17-year-old was dead. And that something that was in his hands was a bag of Skittles and an iced tea for his little brother.

Outrage has come over us. How, in 2012, can this kind of s*** still be happening? Why is it always our children?

What has America done to the psyche of its people that makes them think that if a young Black man is walking in a neighborhood, "they don't belong," they must be up to no good and therefore must be stopped, controlled or even killed?

We are prejudged every day in almost every way, from the neighborhood watch captain to the rookie cop to the sales clerk who works on commission to the taxi driver who won't pick us up to the guidance counselor who steers our children away from AP classes because they are not "college material."

We are prejudged. And that prejudice means all too often the difference between life and death, a future or a grave.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote the following editorial about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. Nationwide attention was paid to the beer summit that occurred at the White House, where Gates and the arresting officer came together.

The conversation, for a moment, was on this racism that exists in our society, but as quickly as it reached our homes, it was gone again. Since then, there has been nothing but more racism, more prejudice and more hate.

Even our president and our first family are not immune to the vitriolic and disrespectful treatment permeating America. All the while, more of our young people have been killed for no other reason than that they were Black.

When will this end? When will we not have to tremble at the idea of our children walking to the corner. When can we rest? I fear that the answer is never.