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A snapshot of a Black man’s perspective on pain and oppression

Pain

For most, it is internal and external. One is normally worse than the other depending on our personalities and how we deal with trauma and grief. From my perspective as a Black man, that is not the case. The internal and external pain is equally as devastating and causes trauma that has life-changing consequences. As a Black male, I am forced to be strong or perish by means of incarceration, death, stress, heath issues, or other issues that plague the Black community.

Unfortunately, a part of being strong means holding onto a lot of the struggles and pain that come with the disadvantages that are presented to us even before we exit the womb. For many of us, we enter a world struggling, utilizing resources like WIC, free health care, and living in substandard housing, then receive less than an equitable education under the law. Unfortunately, when resources run out, many of us enter survival mode because we do not understand why certain things are the way they are nor how to improve them.

More so, many systems that are in place actually prevent our self-improvement. I do not have to tell you what happens next. I do not have to tell you the failures we have endured at the hands of education systems. As a result, many of our young Black men have been incarcerated unjustly and at rates far higher than our White counterparts for similar crimes, all while enduring the physical pain inflicted at the hands of the police, detention officers, and hospitals. We are and have been dealing with police brutality for well over a century and have been experimented on probably longer than we can currently prove. So the pain we feel on a daily basis is real. The burden we bear weighs heavily on our hearts. The stress and worry I carry for my child and family is overwhelming and that’s just pain.

 

Voice (Being Heard)

Why should I have to seek out other ways to say things differently than my White counterparts? Why am I told to do so when I am not heard and told that it is my fault when I am not? When I speak passionately, I evoke fear into the hearts and minds of some of my White counterparts; if I raise my voice or use foul language out of frustration or pain, I get labeled the angry Black man. I am stereotyped even further and seen as a criminal, militant, violent, anti-American, and a rash of other things despite my service to this country. That is a helpless feeling that can in some ways make me feel powerless to advocate for all in nonviolent ways.

 

Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent

As a Black man I have too many stories to count and share. I am a victim of racial profiling, man handling, arrest, and detention before any charges were made, only to be released after realizing a mistake was made. I have had the trauma of being pulled from my car after working an eight-hour shift at Pizza Hut at 11:30 p.m. and sat on the side of the road, handcuffed when I was 16 years old. My vehicle was illegally searched because I looked like someone they were looking for and left on the side of the road after midnight with a dead battery in south Florida. I know the pain and how it feels to be pulled over every day by the same cop and given an equipment violation for things like a headlight in broad daylight or wipers when it’s sunny.  Welcome to my world, America.

 

Opportunity

In my life I have fought and scraped for everything I have to ensure my family is taken care of.  From education to housing it has been challenging. As a child I was not afforded the same education as my White counterparts despite my parent’s efforts. There was no equitable or even equal education under the law. Schools were different, opportunities within those schools were different, and students who attended those schools were exposed to so much more than I was.  As a result, academic and even athletic scholarships were not favorable. As I grew up, it was more of the same. As diverse as it is today, both college and the military lack cultural diversity and definitely have glass ceilings. When it came to housing, the door wasn’t even open to me at first because of my financial foundations or lack thereof. The disadvantages we face in that area is another blog in itself. Nevertheless, when I was able to purchase a home, there were still stereotypes out there and realtors and lenders that made assumptions despite what I brought to the table in the form of finances and credit.

All of the things I describe above barely scratch the surface of what a Black male carries around on a daily basis.  These things hurt and continue to oppress us. They cause us to struggle and we always feel like we are in a fight. Now we feel like we are fighting for our lives.

 

by Ronardo Reeves, Ed.D., Associate, CT3

 

CT3 transforms the quality and culture of education for youth, especially those in traditionally disenfranchised communities.

10 Comments
  • Twan Escho
    Posted at 18:15h, 08 June Reply

    Inspiring and very necessary, African American males need a reflection of them that is real and honest .

  • Debra Reeves
    Posted at 18:20h, 08 June Reply

    It hurts as a black mother raising sons in this place called “United States ” that from the day of birth or when you find out that you are having a boy the world & society is already against them in every way possible. You try to raise them the best way you know & protecting them at your best,while learning as you go and still they battle the odds. Racial profiling at it’s best! With all this pain that they endure does lead to not only low self esteem for many but a form of mental health as well for some. Many males drop out of school & can’t handle the challenges. What do a parent do for her son( s) but keep encouraging them & pray for them constantly & instill in them good morales & their worth. To all black males, young to elder, keep your heads up at all times, stand strong for your beliefs. The fight is real everyday . Keep the faith! You are loved by many and have lots of support. Never give up! We shall overcome someday!!!

  • Dante garrett
    Posted at 21:31h, 08 June Reply

    Well spoken great job

  • Jimmie
    Posted at 22:00h, 08 June Reply

    Well said. Ronardo

  • Sandra Dottery
    Posted at 07:06h, 09 June Reply

    This was a great article Renoldo, really enjoyed reading it, and so true. The struggle is out there for our young black males. Great job!!! A grandmother of three black male children.

  • Ron Harris
    Posted at 10:55h, 09 June Reply

    Truth! Great article

  • Max
    Posted at 16:46h, 11 June Reply

    To my brother in this unending and important work… I am proud to have you as a colleague and I appreciate your commitment to positively changing the experiences and outcomes of our youth. Thank you for honestly and openly expressing the pain and experiences that we bear. We will continue to fight for what is right and we SHALL overcome!

  • Trese
    Posted at 12:56h, 13 June Reply

    Very well said, Ronardo! It’s time to unmask and let the truth be told. I am very proud of you for speaking out and having great resilience regardless of the things you have gone through. Resilient are we African Americans as a race of people!!! Sometimes we just get tired. Let’s keep the faith that things will be better for our children! It starts exactly with what you are doing. #SPEAKTHETRUTH….

  • Vivian Todd
    Posted at 15:23h, 15 June Reply

    You are one of many Black men within the struggle, BUT STILL YOU RISE. I am so proud of you for never giving up but achieving higher standards that no one can ever take from you, your education , dignity & self worth. You Rock, You Matter !!!! Thank you for sharing your story and I only pray it will cause a positive change in the lives of others as it has in mine..

  • Ava D. Brown
    Posted at 17:57h, 16 June Reply

    Excellent Ronardo! We are presumed guilty until proven innocent or presumed unfit until proven worthy. Everything is a struggle for Black people, as I shared with my colleagues on yesterday- much to the dismay of some of them. Many just want the truth of our daily existence to just go away- because it is an inconvenience and uncomfortable. It’s not going away; not this time. It’s our time to speak our truth and fight for justice..

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