Actions speak louder than words. I've seen many people question silence from not only other races, but from that of their fellow brothers and sisters. This came as a shock to me because I realized I don’t post to social media a lot. Mostly because it triggers me. It is an attempt to not constantly be reminded of incidents of hatred and injustice in the land of the "free". I've found myself defensive and telling others that everything I do in my line of work is for the culture, for the advancement of youth who look just like me. Whether through the homework, or the job skills sessions, the celebrations, or the life lessons passed on...it's all for them, and all to push and enhance them.
I make sure to set the example of how a MAN (especially a Black man) should carry himself by the way that I carry myself. I often think back to the day that a group of teens & I were shopping at Wal-Mart; I knew that we were being followed, but I didn't say anything until one of the teens noticed as well. It mattered not that I had on a Boys & Girls Club shirt, or that I had a company credit card in my hand. It was nothing that I wasn't used to. But this time I decided to have a teachable moment.
"Sir, is there a reason you're following us around?" - I asked. Nervously, the guy answered, "Oh...no no no, we were just being cautious.." I noticeably got angry, but then proceeded to smile. "It's ok. I'm just shopping for my job. I decided to bring some of the kids with me because we have a LOT of items to get." He walked away. The kids began to ask questions and said they were nervous thinking he'd call the police because I stopped him. We shouldn't have to live in fear. It's wrong and unnecessary, BUT it is a reality for people who look like me.
Richard Wright wrote, “I knew that I lived in a country in which the aspirations of black people were limited, marked-off. Yet I felt that I had to go somewhere and do something to redeem my being alive."
I know I have to do something. My silence to you is nothing compared to the THUNDEROUS VOICE I use to lead the countless black youth I serve every day.
Branch Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County
Demand for Club Services Increase Across Tarrant County