Give Them the Chance to be Young, Gifted and Black

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The chorus of people, both Black and White, who are outraged with the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict has only increased. Trayvon Martin, the African-American boy who was only 17 years old is dead, and Zimmerman is seemingly out of control. He has been stopped by police at least twice on traffic violations, and now he allegedly had a bad encounter with his wife and his father-in-law.

You would think a man in his precarious state would steer clear of law enforcement officials. But George Zimmerman seems to be courting trouble. It almost seems as though he is saying, “I gotcha and you can’t catch me now.” Seems to me that Zimmerman is playing out a “bad hand.” Others agree.

Patrick Williams, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Institute for Life Coach Training said, “He saw somebody [Zimmerman] who thought he did the community a favor, you know; like he was some hero.” Williams added, “The biggest predictor of your future is your past. I think people kind of create their reality. And I’m not sure he’s learned to make good choices.”

I have often said that if you are Black and male, when you leave the house, you may never see it again. Why? The chances of us being shot or killed are pretty high.

Just a few days ago, a young African-American male, Jonathan Ferrell, was involved in an automobile accident in Charlotte, N.C. I went to college in that city, and I know it reasonably well.

The accident was so severe that the 24-year-old climbed out of the wreckage through the car’s back window, according to reports. The former student-athlete at Florida A&M University was on foot for about half a mile before coming to a house where he could ask for help. This occurred at about 2:30 a.m., and the woman who answered the door became alarmed when she saw Ferrell and called police.

The Charlotte police tried to Taser him, but it did not work. I don’t know about the effects of a Taser because I have never had one used on me. However, I have had the opportunity to see an in-person demonstration, and they do work. The person was stopped cold. Why Ferrell didn’t respond to a Taser, I don’t know. Was his adrenalin at such a high level that his body was immune to the shock?

Charlotte police officer Randall Kerrick shot young Jonathan Ferrell 10 times. That’s right, 10 times! It is my thinking that when you shoot someone 10 times, you must have probable cause to think that the suspect is armed. Ferrell was not armed. He was in an automobile accident and was simply seeking help. Ferrell was a young man who had moved from Florida to North Carolina and was working two jobs. By all accounts, he had a bright future with goals and dreams.

Officer Kerrick has been charged with manslaughter. We will have to see what happens at the trial. In the meantime, Georgia Ferrell is left without a son, and Willie Ferrell is left without his older brother. This set of circumstances is tragic beyond belief.

“I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray he gets off of the police force,” Georgia Ferrell said. She added, “You took a piece of my heart that I can never get back.”

Can you imagine your door bell ringing or your phone ringing in the middle of the night telling you that your son is dead? And when you get the facts, you are told that he was shot 10 times? I can’t fathom that scenario, yet that is what Georgia Ferrell had to endure.

How can this be? What emotions do you have when the unthinkable becomes a hard, cold reality? When Georgia Ferrell sent her son off to FAMU to get an education, she did not expect for him to be dead in 2013. She probably talked with her son on Friday and told him to be careful, but she didn’t realize that would be the last time that she would ever speak to him. Jonathan’s younger brother, Willie, probably admired his older brother and saw him as a role model. There will be no more cell phone talks, no more Instagrams and no more video game contests between the two.

The America we live in has a multitude of opportunities. Just think — Jonathan Ferrell was benefitting from the richness of what this country has to offer. We tell our sons and grandsons to carry themselves with dignity and respect, to be spiritual, to get an education and that some good things will happen for you. Well, if this is the prescription for success, then what about Jonathan Ferrell and the thousands of other Black boys who find themselves in harm’s way?

If you are Black and male and have reaped some of the benefits that America has to offer, then please have some conversations with some of these young brothers. Many of us have been talking and doing it for some time now, but we need more of us. There are far too many Trayvons and Jonathans out here who are Black and male and who have been killed by gunfire. This is essentially wiping out a future generation of African-American men.

We must be vigilant and never drop our guard, as these are the rules of engagement. We must understand that we may not get the benefit of the doubt, but that can’t stop us from believing and achieving.

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2 Responses to Give Them the Chance to be Young, Gifted and Black

  1. Hi Jimmy, your article gives sound advice to all black parents, who care about their sons and daughters!!!

    I’m passing this article on to all my friend’s and I hope others do the same!!!

    Very important advice!!!!

    Ray Joyner
    September 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

  2. we will certainly do better when we accept ourselves first and foremost and be who we truly are, then accept others as they truly are and not what we think they should be. this would eliminate some of the mistakes being made

    karim allah sharif
    September 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm

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