My son knows he could be Trayvon
Drew Oglesby and his best friend, Slater.
March 20th, 2012
01:22 PM ET

My son knows he could be Trayvon

Editor's Note: Christy Oglesby is the quality assurance manager for CNN/U.S.  She lives in Atlanta with her 13-year old son, Drew.  She wrote this in 2012 when the U.S. Justice Department decided to investigate Trayvon Martin’s death. We're resurfacing this piece in light of  a verdict in the George Zimmerman case. Listen to a CNN Radio interview with Oglesby and her friend, Sandra Bemis, whose son is pictured above.

By Christy Oglesby, CNN

(CNN) - I spend a lot of time gasping. I’m the mother of a boy, a testosterone-poisoned boy. Whether it’s rock climbing or four-story tall cliffs that beg him to jump to the sea, my son just isn’t interested in activities that don’t require me to sign a waiver promising not to sue someone.

I spend a lot of time praying. I have to. My son is black. His race gives me much more to fear than his fearlessness. Today, people are learning that the U.S. Justice Department will investigate Trayvon Martin’s death. That’s the black Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watchman last month.

Trayvon didn’t have a gun. He was just walking home from a convenience store to the home of his dad's fiancee. The neighborhood watch captain said Trayvon looked “suspicious.” George Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon in self defense. I’ve worried about my Drew dying like that since a few days after giving birth to him 13 years ago.

It’s tough finding the balance between encouraging a black boy to storm the world with confidence and at the same time to fear for his life. But that’s what I must do. I know that at this very moment some have just sucked their teeth in disgusted disbelief and decided that I’m exaggerating. I wish that I was. I’m not. If I were, Trayvon would be alive.

There are too many things, big and small, that indicate the world hasn’t changed enough since Emmett Till died in 1955. There’s James Craig Anderson, a black man in Mississippi. A video camera captured white teens running him over in a truck on June 26, 2011 after one of them allegedly said he wanted to “F- with a n-–.”  There’s Sean Bell. There’s Trayvon. And there’s my son.

Christy Oglesby and her son, Drew.

Drew was only 3 when I got confirmation that being black could be the death of him. We were waiting for a connecting flight in a Tennessee airport. Drew was on the floor with his Leap Pad, a small computerized storyteller that developed early reading skills. He had on a navy and white seersucker romper with exquisite smocked trains on his chest. His navy Stride Rite leather sandals didn’t have a scuff on them, and the five-day-old haircut still looked fresh. He was the personification of perfection… at least to me.

A little white girl who looked about 2 and a half trotted over and plopped down on the floor next to him. Drew was just about to slide half of the toy onto her lap so they could “read” together when her older sister charged over. I’m guessing she was 6.  “Come back here!” she yelled. As she pulled her sister up off the floor by the arm, she explained loudly, “Don’t play with him! He’s dirty and dangerous!”  My child was neither. It didn’t matter. He’s black. For some people, that’s synonymous with “threat.” If that weren’t true, Trayvon would be alive.

I’ve repeated the details of that incident to my son several times in the past ten years. I’m convinced that his very life depends on knowing that story even if he can’t remember it. I hadn’t told my son the “airport story” since Cambridge cops arrested Skip Gates. I had to remind my son that the right neighborhood and the Yale degree he hopes to earn won’t be enough to protect him. Trayvon’s death forces me to revisit what happened when he tried to read to that little white girl.

Maybe I shouldn’t keep reminding Drew about the risks that come with being black and male in America. It’s just the best that I can do under the circumstances. That story is a part of the “tool kit” I’ve cobbled together to help him stay alive. It’s as important as my “proverbs.” That’s what my son calls my pithy reminders of how he should dress, act, speak and respond to authority. He’s committed most of them to memory.

“Ann is a woman, not a conjunction.” “Make inside voice your choice.” “Disobedience is dangerous.” And of course, “You must always look like a prospect, not a suspect.” The latter one shakes my core.  Drew and Trayvon have a similar look. Their coloring, eyebrows, smile, face shape and hair cuts are just too eerily similar for me. And I see that looking decent doesn’t trump being black. If it did, Trayvon would be alive.

Today I read about Trayvon trying his best not to run when he thought Zimmerman was hounding him. A friend says she was on the phone with Trayvon before he died, and that’s the account she gives. I don’t know Trayvon’s momma. But it seems she likely had the same proverb for her son that I had for mine. “Never run in a neighborhood.”

My son broke that rule when he was 7. He was Scouting for Food with the Cub Scouts on a service project in Buckhead, a posh McMansion neighborhood in Atlanta. Before I could stop him, he was running across the lawn of a mansion with the other little boys in blue uniforms. My scream stopped him in his tracks. I wasn’t so scared about him running just then. I was terrified that he’d forgotten the rules. I was terrified that he’d be with his white friends eight years from then and think he could run.

My ex-husband is 6 feet 2 inches. Drew’s half-brother is 6 feet 4 inches. My child’s only 12 and already 5 feet 5 inches. He’s black. He’s male. He’s going to be big. That’s just too much for my heart to handle. We had the talk again. “I know. I know, mom. I can’t run because I’m black.” I know America is the land of liberty, but my child has to understand he’s just free-ish.

Thankfully, I have a few more years before Drew begins to drive. I don’t want him to become another Troy Lawrence Jr. He’s a young, black, honor roll student from my hometown. Jefferson Parish deputies stopped him for speeding several years ago. Within the hour, his face was swollen, black and blue. Just about the time I begin teaching Drew how to parallel park, I’ll have to explain how to respond to a traffic stop. I’ll add Troy’s story to the tool kit.

Drew’s not bowed by fear at all. When he was 8, I told him that he needed to choose the scripture that would guide his life. My daredevil boy chose Joshua 1:9 - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

He’s diligent about heeding my proverbs and exercising self-control. He knows that his manners, diction, hair style, clothing choices and education will help curtail some assumptions about him, but not all. He knows that he could be Trayvon. He’s still shocked that Zimmerman is not in jail.

In spite of my fears, I see reasons to be hopeful. I caught a beautiful glimpse just this weekend. My son’s Boy Scout troop camped on a family’s farm, and the moms had shunned nature for the comforts of the main house on the property. Through a kitchen window, I saw my son walking up the hill toward the house with a boy who has been his buddy since kindergarten. They share a secret handshake. Like so many other times in their lives, they had thrown an arm across the other’s shoulder, and there wasn’t enough space between their torsos to slide a blade of grass.

The genuine affection between long-time friends was evident. I don’t know what they were talking about, but they looked happy. They both looked free. I knew Drew didn’t see a white face, and his partner didn’t see a threat. Each saw a friend. That didn’t make me less scared for my son. I won’t stop warning him of risks. I’ll just make sure that moment with his buddy makes it into the tool kit.

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Ethnicity • Gender • Race • What we think
soundoff (1,445 Responses)
  1. scieng1

    Teaching your child about history is one thing and teaching them about good judgement is another. TM died because he chose the wrong response to a simple challenge. With the previous crime in the neighborhood, news about abductions and attacks in the news, and other crime concerns in the area, Z was simply asking a stranger why he was there. As an executive, I get asked those questions in my own office building when I am working late and the new guard doesn't know me. Children of all races must be taught both situational awareness and good judgement. I am a survivor of criminal violence and all of us need to understand this is not a race issue, but a judgement issue on each side. Mistakes to good judgement are costly.

    July 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Guest

    I am a high school teacher and every time they showed Trayvon's face in the news, I thought of the face of so many of my students. I teach in a very diverse district. None of my students are perfect. They are teenagers after all. I see everyday where the color of their skin affects how people receive their misbehavior's though. I do not believe any of my students could ever be malicious, just as I believe Trayvon did not have any ill intentions. My students do not understand, though, how their actions and appearances are viewed and judged by the world. This article so wonderfully brings up so many excellent points that I have often feared for my students. Thank you.

    July 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 11811

    Interesting how the mom ends it. Her son doesn't see the whiteness of his friend's face and apparently his friend doesn't see the blackness of his face. They sound like wonderful boys who are both color blind as to skin. Too bad his mom has to keep reminding him he is black instead of pointing out his attributes; honest, helpful, etc..It sounds to me as if his mom his helping perptuate racism by reminding everyone of the superficial differences.

    July 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. feedtheworldnow

    What we need is a sense of universal brotherhood of all mankind, what we need is love, love is all we need!

    July 16, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Loren


    You need to think more seriously about the risks that your son faces. What is the number of deaths from incidents such as Trayvon Martin and the number of from gang violence? For every Trayvon Martin, there are hundreds more forgotten young men, women and children killed either directly or by stray bullets from gang violence, domestic violence and other crimes in the African-American community.

    If you seriously think that your son is at risk of a Trayvon Martin-type incident, then you need to seriously rethink what you have learned, because your logic is failing you immeasurably. You need to be much, much more concerned about the violence in you own community than the random event that occurred between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. You need to teach how to behave when he isn't in your community and dealing with strangers so that a question does not escalate to his death.

    Too much of the African-American community has fallen prey to the thinking exhibited here. Acting responsibly does not mean kowtowing, the Trayvon Martin death was avoidable. What the African-American community does need to continue to fear is the violence in its own community. Until that is resolved, there will continue to be random incidents like Trayvon Martin's death, but nothing like the number of deaths occurring every day from the violence in the African-American community.

    July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • MoMO

      she does not live in a gang area......she is rich and live in a good neighborhood.

      so her fear would be more with people like ZMAN.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jcaz

      Once again, another one who have no idea about what it means to be black in America.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. bs1

    If your son (of any race) is prone to violently attack strangers who ask them a question they don't like, then yes, they could be the next Trayvon. If your son (of any race) behaves in a civilized manner and does not assault others they have no chance of being the next Trayvon.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Couldn't agree more.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • josh

      You're kid has the risk of being Trayvon if he trespasses on other people's property, at night, and then when confronted by someone who lives in the neighborhood, decides to smash their head into the ground. On the other hand, if your kid stays on public land (or like any other kid who gets caught taking a shortcut) runs away when confronted or simply apologizes – he will be fine. This is a sad situation all around, but let's get real, Trayvon was no saint and should not be the person the black community puts on a pedestal.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
      • MJR

        Are you kidding!!!!

        July 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephanie

    As a white woman, I have 3 black sons, and have no qualms telling people so. What I do have night sweats about is the fact that I am "the enemy" in their lives... women who look and talk and smile like me will automatically judge them... and they're biracial! But it doesn't matter, they've taken the race of their father and they are black. As if learning about "the back of the bus" wasn't enough ignorance, we must now teach them to be on the offense, defense and on the ready. And for what? A choice of clothing? A particular song (no cursing allowed)? People we must change our minds – RIGHT NOW!

    July 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeanne Marie

    It breaks my heart that someone did that to your beautiful son.

    July 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bibleverse1

    Black mothers and fathers must teach their children to not be Trayvon Martin. The proper response to being approached on the street is run. Run for your life because your life does depend on it.

    July 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • theorycraft

      yes, you run. you call the police. When trayvon martin approached Zimmerman, he had no idea what the guy was capable of. Whether Zimmerman was racist or not, Trayvon would most likely be dead today, so you teach your kids what white people teach their kids. Don't talk to strangers. Don't fight or gain street cred. Get good grades and go to university and graduate to a prominant career so their kids don't have to grow up in the hood. Its a dangerous world out there today, whether you are white or black.

      July 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin L.

    I see that this was posted 4 months ago. I also note this post has NO Facebook "LIKES." The thumbs up logo has a zero next to it.

    I hope the author gets some good therapy for her racial driven fear.

    July 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonathan

      i think kevin l, you are a bloody racist. The world can do without you.
      Blood is stored by group not by race. I hope this teaches u that all humans are the same.
      I think younare an idiot.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
      • Kevin L

        I made no racial comment. YOUI made this racist!
        Calling me names tells me you are of limited education Jonathan!

        July 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Art

    This is getting ridiculous now. Tell your son not to get suspended from school 3 times, don't kick him out of your home, tell him not to use drugs, tell him not to play around with guns, tell him not to think he is a gangsta, tell him not to mercilessly bash another persons head into concrete for 45 seconds, and he should be all set.

    July 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I believe Trayvon was fighting for his life. George Zimmerman had no clue of of this childs suspention, or I-phone pics. He did what he did. And Trayvon paid the price. As for Trayvons background. He's a 17 year old boy, like most 17 year old boys (no matter color) are not perfect. I'm sure, like most good parents, his parents preached to him time after time about his suspentions, and talked about drugs. You can not be with your child 24 /7. You do what you can, and love them unconditionally, support them, guide them, and pray for the best.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. penny

    I am afraid for my daughter everyday, not because of her skin color but because she is MY DAUGHTER,MY CHILD.i am afraid of robbers rapists drunk drivers(those come in all colors!),her texting and driving and anything and everything that could happen to a child of ANY COLOR. when will America wake up and quit being a color and just be an American!!!

    July 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • whiteorblackitdoesmatter

      Penny you are right. But still get it in your mind that color matters too because we see it happen all most everyday. If you say you are not seeing it then you are lying to yourself.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Wendy

        color matters to some becasue of parents teaching this to their children. Children see how people are turning this into a racial issue and they too will continue this nonsense.

        July 16, 2013 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      I agree!! This could have happened to any child but somehow, someone always turns this into a racial issue. This women is turning her son into a racist but that is ok, right?

      July 16, 2013 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Erica

    I take issue with what seems to be some of your clarion call regarding racism. The truth of the matter most people have been raised with a sense of fear toward darker skinned people. The truth is, for some black people it does not matter how educated you are, the job you have, car you drive, or neighborhood you live in; we will still be the "N" word, people will still stare, follow us around stores, and treat us as though we do not belong.

    I really hate to be the bearer of bad news but race is still very much an issue in this country. And while I appreciate my diverse group of friends and family members, some of them will never understand the issues until they witness them first hand. Denial is not going to solve anything, neither is teaching your kids that they should fear people because of the way they are dressed or how they speak. That is ignorance at its finest.

    I get nervous when I'm in small towns and I do not see anyone that looks like me. I get nervous when I'm followed around by people of different ethnicities. I get angry and irritated when I am mistaken for being "the help" when I am a paying customer in some places. Still, because of who I have matured into and lessons my parents taught me I try to remain kind and courteous despite these instances in my 33 years of life that still occur from time to time.

    No, it is not ok to say we should get over racism, racist comments, or other social injustices. The reason can be found in the comments posted by many people here. But, for those of you who do not bother to read I will explain. Darker skin equating to evil has been ingrained into American society. And while I love those of you who are progressive thinkers with actions that equate to your words, you are only the minority. We can no longer justify harsher treatment or punishment on any level based on skin color.

    July 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tigresa

      Make your vote count. Write to the officials elected as government to review laws, to create laws that protect all and to make sure the law applies equally to every one. The root of the problem is the word "minorities", implying that there is one race superior to the others. The word "minorities" should be abolish when referring to race. There are many different races and they are all equal. " I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We are the HUMAN RACE! Stop attacking each other and start working together to make a change that will benefit all. Use your vote, use your voice, demand change and equality. Contact your officials.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Erica, I would have to agree with you in your statements. I am white but I can see how people react to other races on a daily basis. I am in a customer service position at my job and many times I will hear white people make a references that is not appropriate about another race. It is very sad that our society is so advanced but yet our society cannot get past something as basic as the color of someones skin. And it's not just the references to black people but also Mexican's and Asian's. I live in a smaller town and you hear people talk. I try to make it a point not to treat anyone differently and that is one of the things I teach my daughter. The other day she made the comment that there were kids on her summer school bus picking on a girl that had a short arm and tiny fingers. She looked at me and goes "Mom, why were those kids picking on her? I don't understand she looks just like me." And she is 6. As much as anyone hates to admit it, the way someone looks, whether they are black, Asian, Mexican, short, obese, or have some sort of physical defect, discrimination and racism is still very prevalent in this country.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. keaton


    July 15, 2013 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cat

    When I was about nine, I had to go to the immigration office for some paperwork with my family. We were the only white people in the whole joint. A little girl came over to play with my sister and I. Her mom very quickly pulled her away and told her to stay away from the white people. Ignorance can be found in ALL races, just as compassion can be. Judging an entire race on the ignorance of a few is a sure way to never move past racism. Racism is present in ALL races, not just white, despite what people seem to think.

    July 15, 2013 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      It's "...with my sister and ME" Cat, not "my sister and I". That's incorrect use of a pronoun.

      July 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kevin L.

        In a discussion about RACISM you're gonna tell me that DICTION is still an issue for you Brian?


        July 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jo

        You're an idiot. Stay on topic.

        July 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • enidlj

      Freethinker ......yeah but you people wrote the book.....and every year you guys come out with a new and improved version.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • lucky*921

      unfortunately, you seem to have missed the point.
      the point of this article is not "white people are racist, period." the point is "you're a black man, so you need to go above and beyond to make every effort to make sure that people who aren't black are 'comfortable' and not threatened by you." that's something that is absurdly unfortunate–that any person in this country needs to carry themselves in a way that considers other people's feelings about them first, especially when those feelings are based on fear and ignorance, just to ensure their own survival. absurd.
      this is HER experience and HER son. i don't see anywhere in this piece that she denied that biases exist among groups of people who aren't white. it just frankly wasn't the point.

      'm sorry you felt the need to make this about you.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Jay

    As long as this kid doesn't get into a fist fight with a guy who has a gun he'll be fine. I have no idea what being black has to do with any of that.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  17. Pam

    Christy...I am white and I do "get" that you have reason to worry but I take exception to your statement that TM was just walking home from the store. Yes, he was but he also assaulted GZ with a chunk of cement and repeatedly punched him. The pictures are evidence of that. What happened to your son in the airport was horrible and I wish I had been there because I would have talked to the girls parents for you. Every time a black youth/man gets killed by someone of another race it does not make the black youth innocent. The irony is that I didn't hear of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others of the black community calling for the arrest of the black youth that killed the British tourist last yr. When I hear that kind of "standing up for justice" then I will believe that we've changed.

    July 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie Branom

      what chunk of cement that he assaulted him with...that is not in evidence in the trial. Also there is no evidence that he assaulted him at all. That is just what Zimmerman said. The other side was not there to tell the story, he was dead. The Jury did not say that GZ was innocent..they said that they found the burden of unreasonable doubt too high to declare him guilty.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rose

      I just want to scream when I read what you said about the chuck of concrete...................had GZ done what he was told to do......STOP FOLLOWING HIM. What part of that did GW not understand, Had he stopped following Trayvon Martin, like he was TOLD to do, no one would be dead.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  18. guest

    My grandsons are exceptional African American teenagers. They are everything I could want in grandchildren, caring, compassionate, excellent students, insightful and great thinkers. They have the capacity to use their excellent minds to do great things for the world. I hope they do not become discouraged by the prejudices they face and give up because people refuse to allow them the rights they are allowed by law and should be allowed by everyone in their communities. Their parents are exceptional people – they are teaching their sons the reality of life, but giving them all the things they need to be successful – like they are. I am very proud of who my grandsons are becomming and who my daughter and son-in-law are. I am not African American. I have too much Mediterranean ancestry to be able to check the 'white' box on forms. I love our family and it saddens me that my exceptional grandsons may have to face prejudices or pain in their lives simply based on race. I thought those days were long gone, but I guess they were only in hiding.

    July 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Victoria

    Thank you sooo much Christy for sharing this story. Although there are those out there that believe these are "unfounded" and "exaggerated"feelings, I wholeheartedly know where you are coming from. I too am the mother of an extremely rambunctious four year old boy; who is both Black and Puerto Rican. Before he was even born my hormones sent my emotions into overdrive and I was frantic about both his ethnicities being strikes against him. I again went into a tizzy when it came time to pick his name. I fell in love with "Nassir" which means son of God. Then I thought "OMG I can not give him that name! Teachers will prolfile him once they get their class roster not even having met him. Or was i setting him up for failure in his future when it came time for college or job applications. Would he be considerd, black lazy and trouble?" These feelings tormented me then and torment me now. My anxiety heightens when tragedies such as the Trayvon Martin Case occur. How do I keep him safe? How do I make sure people know he is a good boy from a good home and good family background; before they pass judgement on him based upon what his name is or what he looks like? So to those who find our feelings "unfounded" and "exaggerated", walk a mile in our history and then walk a mile in our present day lives and tell us our feelings are truely "unfounded" and "exaggerated". Until then I will educate Nassir of his past, advise him on his present and pray for his future.

    April 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • lucianne

      You have a vigorous imagination, you are quite unlikely to get shot, you apparently have a job, and you need to stop whining. What happened to Trayvon could happen to any young man wearing a hoodie – my blond, blue-eyed nephew has been harrassed and lost part of his hand to a cop with authority problems – but it is way more likely to happen to a black kid than a white one. Get over your lack of special attention and get on with your life without feeling sorry for yourself.

      April 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  20. lucybell

    My son could be Trayvon, also-if he was 6'2" and an athlete , supposedly jumped a 5'3 guy, (unwise action bc by all accounts there is no mention there was a gun (the GF's phone call) ........ and scuffled with the guy, ended up on top and banging the guy's head into the sidewalk........ It's all about choices.

    March 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  21. tay

    this article is very powerful to me,not only because she makes valid points but that it simply true, a black man has to fear for his life more than any other race,in my opinion,and teaching her son to be cautious and be aware of your surroundings is a great and brave to me. Educating him about history that has happened before him and during his life,is something that i think alot more of people should do.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  22. Anonymous

    I think the main issue here is not that a white man shot a black man, but that an officer of the law resorted to firearms when they were not absolutely necessary. Trayvon did not have a weapon, and if the only way Zimmerman knew how to defend himself was by shooting his gun and that his instinctive reaction was to fire, I do not think that he was fit to be a police officer in the first place.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  23. NOvascotian

    Proverbs 20:3

    It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

    President Obama is an honorable man.

    March 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  24. bannister

    I sympathize with this woman's fears – but statistically speaking, her son is FAR MORE LIKELY to be killed by another black man than he does by a white man. Those are the facts.

    March 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • freethinker

      Everyone of us is more likely to die at the hands of someone our own race than we are to die by someone of another race. Period. White men kill other white men. White men also kill their wives and children. White women kill their children. White teens kill their mostly white classmates. White serial killers kill mostly white people. You get the picture.

      Further, people who live in high crime areas are more likely to be victims of a crime. And people who are low-income in the US are more likely to live in high crime areas. And because wealth and access to resources and opportunities are not now and were not ever distributed equitably in the US, black people are more likely to have lower-incomes and thus live in high crime areas. However, black people who are not low-income are not relegated to living in high crime areas and the likelihood that they will fall victim to violent crime goes down dramatically. (The middle class was created and multiplied many times over by the GI Bill which allowed returning WWII vets to purchase homes and go to college for free. The GI Bill was not available to blacks who also fought for their country (surprise! surprise!). So whites who got this hand out believe the myth that they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps when it is really just government-sanctioned racism. If you don't believe me ask your family where they lived BEFORE WWII and what that housing and neighborhood was like...that is if your family has been here that long.)

      The real question is why are we ok, as the richest country in the world and a supposedly developed and industrialized country, with relegating poor people to living in such terrible, squalid conditions? We subject poor people to send their children to schools where only 2% of kids are on grade level, to live in rental units still filled with lead paint, to unsafe neighborhoods with limited to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables and no access to banking services outside of check-cashing. When you don't allow people to live with dignity regardless of their wealth, is it any surprise that you have to retreat behind your gated walls in fear?

      March 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • bannister

        Yes, it's true – statistically speaking, people are more likely to be killed by a member of their own race. But the author of this article was not talking about same-race crime. She was talking about white-on-black crimes and specifically mentioned Emmet Till,, Sean Bell, James Craig Anderson, etc.

        So – since she wishes to talk about interracial crime, let's talk about it: The statistics on interracial crime are clear: Blacks are far more likely to kill whites than whites are to kill blacks. Blacks are only 13% of the US population, yet commit over 50% of muggings and murders. Rape statistics are even more lopsided – there are about 900 white-on-black rapes in the US every year – and about 15,000 black-on-white rapes (again, despite blacks being only 13% of the population.) (Source – The Color Of Crime PDF based on FBI and Interpol stats, just Google "Color of Crime" )

        Yes, it's true that "poor areas" are also more "high crime areas" – but there are many ways to look at that. Which comes first, the poverty or the crime? In the United States, there are many "black areas" that used to be nice white neighborhoods. When the blacks moved in, the crime went up – and the whites left out of fear for their safety. Soon, these once "nice" neighborhoods became "poor" neighbors. The houses were the same. The street names were the same. But the people changed.

        Yes, it's true that blacks did not benefit from the GI bill – and that's unfortunate. But blacks HAVE benefited from a myriad of social programs such as Affirmative Action, minority business loans, etc. Even in very poor neighborhoods, people's basic needs are cared for. Social services such as Section 8 Housing, Food Stamps, welfare, SSDI, etc provide people with the basic necessities of food, shelter, medicine, etc. Are you actually suggesting that muggers are stealing from people to buy baby formula for their starving baby at home? That is nonsense, they are stealing for extra drug money, booze, etc and you know it.

        Furthermore, if your explanation for black crime is economics – then what about rape? Raping a woman doesn't put any money in your pocket, does it? Yet blacks have the highest rape statistics of any race in America – and the world (East Congo)

        I do not hate black people, in fact, I consider the vast majority of them to be fine, decent people. But if black journalists want a dialog about interracial crime (which was the subject of this article) then they should be prepared for a REAL DISCUSSION, one that includes the white perspective as well.

        March 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • freethinker

        So a black person moves out of a high crime neighborhood and then is gunned down by a "well meaning" white person who thinks they are PREVENTING not COMMITTING a crime. The irony!

        You are right that many "black areas" used to be nice white neighborhoods, but you haven't gone beneath the surface to find out why. I'm frankly disappointed with your elementary level assessment. The neighborhoods weren't nice because they were white. They were nice because banks invested in them. The banks and the federal government contributed to the early decay of those inner city neighborhoods by withholding mortgage capital and making it difficult for these neighborhoods to attract and retain families able to purchase homes. As soon as a neighborhood had a number of black, banks redlined (google the term to learn more) those neighborhoods, literally taking a red pen and drawing a circle around them on the map and saying we will not invest in these neighborhoods, we will not loan homeowners money to buy in these neighborhoods, we will not finance homes or loans in these areas. As you can imagine, housing values plummeted overnight but it was all artificially created. Whites moved out to capture what value remained in their property and because they COULD move out while blacks were stuck and could not get loans to move or find other nice neighborhoods open to them where they would be allowed to purchase and their family would not be harassed. The blacks were not able to get home equity lines of credit to invest in their properties so the properties declined. They were also NOT able to get business loans (Many immigrants who often arrived post 60s and were able to get loans to start businesses that catapulted them into middle class wonder why blacks didn't start their own stores and assumed they were stupid and or lazy for not doing so, not realizing blacks were being discriminated against.) It's not enough to discriminate against people....no let's follow the systematized discrimination up with lies about why they have less to make ourselves feel better!

        I'm not going to address your other statements because those assessments are equally elementary in quality. Put some thought into it, take your time, and then we can talk.

        March 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • bannister

        My assessments are "elementary" in quality? Nice way to sidestep my points.

        Again – If high rates of black crime are are a result of economics, please explain the high rate of black rape. Why do blacks rape more than any other race? Please enlighten us Professor.

        March 26, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
      • Dave

        Ask.com "The unprecedented support for the education of returning World War II veterans provided by the G.I. Bill was notably race-neutral in its statutory terms. More than 1 million black men had served in the military during World War II and these men shared in eligibility for educational benefits, which included tuition payments and a stipend for up to four years of college or other training" So I guess the rest of your post is as accurate as your facts about Veteran's benefits?

        March 26, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
      • Jason

        freethinker, your point is just completly untrue. Your point is one that was echoed in the movie Boyz in the Hood ( you know the billboard scene) , and is probably the one thing I do not like about that movie. I have lived in high crime and low crime areas, High income and low income areas. I have even lived in an area that has become now a majority black area which now has the highest crime rate per population in Dallas county. It is not an issue with economics its an issue with culture and influence.

        March 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • freethinker

      @Dave According to Understandingrace.org – a project of the American Anthropological Association and a more reliable resource than ask.com , "The GI Bill of Rights or the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, which provided for college and vocational education for returning World War II veterans as well as one-year of unemployment compensation, resulted in an expansion of the middle class. The GI bill also provided loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses, but NON-WHITES WERE WIDELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST IN THESE PROGRAMS. The legacy of discrimination in these programs served to create and maintain the wealth gap between whites and non-whites, which is reflected in rates of home ownership, assets, savings and investment even today."

      March 26, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
      • bannister

        Again, we all make the assumption that that "poverty" automatically leads to crime. 99% of the "poor" in America are well fed, drive cars, talk on cell phones and watch TV (often flat screens) just like the rest of us. I know, I've lived and worked in many poor communities and believe me, nobody is robbing stores to provide baby formula for their starving babies.

        Imagine that we took two towns – one is wealthy and majority white. The other is poor and majority black. If we transfered the populations (ie moved the rich white people into the poor town and move the poor blacks into the rich neighborhood) I can GUARANTEE you that the crime rate of the "rich" town would go up and the crime rate of the "poor" town would go down. It's the PEOPLE – not the houses- that make a neighborhood what it is.

        March 27, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
      • bubbla

        US Dept of Ag says 17 million US households don't have resources to make sure everyone can eat. Where are your stats from?

        March 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sonya

      My question to you is does the fact that this boy is dead for an inexcusable reason have anything to do with black on black or white on white killings. The fact of the matter is the laws should be changed, guns should not be in the hands of ignorant people regardless of color, and our children should all be able to walk home from the store safely. When a love one dies the police should investigate thoroughly and without bias and parents need to be told that their child is dead. Yes, color matters but so do bias and morals.

      March 26, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
      • freethinker

        Well said. I got caught up going down Bannister's rabbit hole.

        March 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vallie

      Statistically speaking that is true but I totally understand where she's coming from. I have 3 sons of which 2 are part Hispanic, but I let ALL of them know that this world will always see their color BEFORE their character!
      1. My sons have to be aware of other brothers (statistic wise).
      2. My sons have to be aware of racist police officers.
      3. My son has to be aware of the GZ's of the world (white, Asian and Hispanic)

      July 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  25. NOvascotian


    March 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  26. mama

    “Where is the justice for our children?” read the signs at a Trayvon Martin event this weekend. Indeed, how about for ALL children, including mine, yours, white, black, and any color. My child, and I, have been victims of gang violence. A young black boy in a hoodie held a gun to my head. We have a real problem in America, everywhere and in all races. Bullies have been elevated to the extreme as gang members and apparently neighborhood watch captains. I’m tired of it. There are good folks and bad folks in every race. The bad apples are causing fear. It’s time for us to change, within our own families, neighborhoods, and communites. The media fuels the hurt, instead of helping because it makes them money. The government does not really care or the criminals would be severely punished but the bullies know many people literally get away with murder. I am tired of all the prejudice and stereotyping of all the races. Trayvon Martin was tragically stereotyped and killed for it. My young white daughter and I were sadly stereotyped and robbed for it and potentially could have also lost our lives. Ever had a gun to your head by a young black in a hoodie? The answer is not to look at all young blacks in hoodies differently. What is the answer? We better start taking the high road in our families, and communites or this will be escalating and the hatred for anyone different than oneself will become natural. STOP doing this. We will be teaching the wrong values to our children! Remember…”justice for our children”? Then begin teaching about love, respect, the value of hard work, and the fact that we are all interconnected whether you like it or not. The gang violence situation is bad everywhere and all of us, including the politicians, the media could really help the good, non-violent people of our society, and make changes to stop the high incidences of gang violence and all violence against innocent people. My daughter and I were carjacked at gunpoint in Houston, Tx right before Christmas. We were very fortunate that we were not killed, but he took our car, all contents (which was over 50,000 of musical and video equipment which is our livelihood), our Christmas presents, purses, jewelry off our hands, everything...especially our peace of mind. He tried to get my teenage daughter back in the car, it was horrible. Something has to be done. Why didn’t our story make national news? Are we fueling the hatred in one direction? Is that politically incorrect? Healing needs to begin NOW.

    March 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Also the mother of a young black male

    This article is NOT overkill! If you have never raised a black male you lack compassion and only speak from a place of ignorance when you say such things! I feel just like this mother! I too have a teenage son. He is an outstanding student with superb conduct. He is well respected by peers and school staff, but he is 6ft 5 and a black male. Racist America will see him as a threat despite how amazing he is! I constantly worry when he drives or even goes for a walk. I find myself ALWAYS reminding him of how to stay alive in a country where he is ALWAYS going to be seen as dangerous. He listens to me. He knows that his life is more easy to dispose of by police, etc than youths of other races. He knows that murder at the hands of a racist animal is possible because of his gender/race combination! He diligently follows the same rules that the author of this article has taught her son. My son also learned these rules at a very young age because they are an invisible shield to help maintain his survival in a culture that is hostile toward black males...especially young black males!

    March 25, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      When can WE, THE MAJORITY, whether we be white, black, hispanic, asain, or muslim, jewish,christian, or gay, staright- STAND UP and say enough is enough and STOP HATE? This editorial makes me so sad, especially because it is true. It also makes me sad because our youngest son could be Trayvon. To add more fear for us as parents of a beautiful black boy- our son will not only have to consider the ...risk from racists, but the risk from biggots who hate his parents for being gay. Our oldest son is white and the picture of the two boys from this mother's story makes me think of our boy's when they are 12 and 15. We realized that we had a lot to prepare them for, especially considering the fact that we are a gay, bi-racial family. However, the Trayvon Martin murder, the way it happened and the way it has been handled by authorities- makes it all too clear that even in the year 2012 in the United States of America when we have our first African American President that WE the majority have a lot of work to do. WE need to stop sitting on the sidelines shaking our heads, crying and wondering when things will truly get better. WE need to do everything we can to STOP HATE! We need to start speaking up. WE need to start educating. WE need to stop tolerating. WE need to start joining together- whether we be white, black, hispanic, asain, or muslim, jewish,christian, or gay, staright- WE have to STAND UP and say enough is enough and STOP HATE!

      March 25, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  28. kabalegauniversity

    When I grew up in Uganda, many a young man or woman would go to the well to get water or the nearby bushes to get firewood and they never came back.

    It was shocking to me that in The United states of America a young man went to buy candy did not come back home.

    In my days it was the turbulent days of Idi Amin and the subsequent insurgency, in the US it is 21st Century! Are we going backwards?

    March 25, 2012 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • MP

      We've been going backwards in this country for a long time now unfortunately.

      March 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Sad Article, Proved Right by The Responses

    The article is overkill. It is sad, but over the top. She makes some true points that black males are still considered dangerous by virtue of being black males. And, as some racists on this board have pointed out – the crime stats for black males are higher than any other demographic group. I call these people racists because they imply that the crime is due to the men's race, and not due to the disproportional poverty levels of blacks compared to other groups. (1) the crime among all poor groups is high, whites included. (2) The crime rate among middle class blacks is less than middle class whites. Racists ignore these two facts. This is why middle class blacks move away and out of poor black neighborhood – but the stereotypes follow them wherever they go. Emmet Till found out in 1955 that many people are scared to death of blacks. Trayvon Martin found this to still be true in February 2012, when the sitting President is half black himself.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  30. thishasgottastop

    HI christy i'm from jefferson parish and ive never heard the story about troy lawrence jr,but new orleans has ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THAT AND i'm not even gonna mention half the stuff that happened during katrina or HENRY GLOVER WHOM the white copsS BURNED HIS BODY to ashes AND TRIED TO COVER IT UP.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Concerned Citizen

    Black People are weird...what a crappy way to go through life. Everything is offensive. Everything is bad. Everyone is out to get us. We must not condemn anyone that shares our color.

    Blacks are the biggest killer of blacks yet one hispanic guy shoots a black guy who was assaulting him and the whole world stops.

    tell ya what "black community"...stop killing each other and Ill start caring about the .000000001% of non-blacks who commit crimes against your "community".

    March 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rose

      Concerned citizen, and Bannister, What part of being told to STOP FOLLOWING TRAYVON do you guys and GW NOT understand. this is NOT about statistics, it is about the cease and desist order GW was given, had he just done what he was told, IF Trayvon picked up a piece of concrete or NOT, ( this is GW's story and no one is alive to give the other side, HAD G.W. STOPPED FOLLOWING TRAYVON, THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM OR A DEATH.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
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