B.A.A.M.! (Born African American Male)
Angry. Disgusted. Disbelief. Belief. How many more? When will this end? Let me preface this for those who do not know me. I am the daughter of an African American male, the wife of an African American male, the mother of two adult African-American males, the grandmother, aka; Bella, to two young African-American males born into this world within the last four years and I have two brothers, brothers-in-law, and a godson.
I've contemplated writing this blog, but I cannot let this one go. I fell asleep late last night in tears and pure anger! The pandemic is one thing, but in the midst of it all, senseless deaths and blatant racism is alive and well, and like the virus, is spreading. I can go far back in history and name off the litany of young black males who died at the hands of the "law" or those who decided to take the "law" into their own hands, but that would consume several pages.
I've read the social media posts, limited my viewing of the news, and the latest video killing of George Floyd, who yelled for his momma; two years deceased. I cannot bring myself to watch the unedited version of this last massacre. Heart-wrenching. We know systemic racism exists on every level, but today, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about our males; B.A.A.M.
Who knew when they said to all black mommas' in the delivery room, "it's a boy!" it would become a mark for life. Deep down, she already knows. The"talk" when out with friends, driving a car, dating, walking down the street. "Don't wear this", "put your hands where they can see them at all times”, and so on becomes repetitive reminder often followed by, "yeah mom, I know. I'll be careful." From the time my sons were able to go out like typical teenagers, I would have a level of anxiety. Naturally. The Talk, as it's known to parents of young black men, is a household standard and necessity. B.A.A.M.
Here's the kicker. The police, nor a bullet, does not care if you graduated high school, have a college degree(s), attended an Ivy League school, a doctor, lawyer, or any high-level position you may hold. The police nor a bullet doesn't know or care if you live in a good "white" neighborhood, speak several languages, or a member of a country club. No black male drives around with all their accolades posted all over their vehicles or wear their accomplishments daily. The mark of biases is set at birth. B.A.A.M. (Born African American Male).
This doesn't even take into consideration the naming of our young men, and the mindfulness of how their name will appear on a resume, LinkedIn, or job application. Combine that with any type of hairstyle that looks "too black" or ethnic. Marked. B.A.A.M.
Just because we live in a "good" neighborhood, right? Don't be fooled. I can honestly count the times both have been stopped for DWB (driving while black); no cause, no ticket, etc., just driving my black Lexus. "Slow down, young man." Then there was the time they were WWB (walking while black) and bought home to our doors, as someone called and said they saw two black boys walking down the street and were looking for some black men who were reportedly stealing t.v.'s. They were coming home from a friend's party with nothing in their hands. This was before the days of cell phones. You can only imagine the looks on me and my husbands' face when we opened the door. B.A.A.M.
So many conversations continue to be spoken. So many protests. Outrage. No solutions. What are we to do? What kind of America are we living in? Our community is living in a type of holocaust that is unfolding in real-time. Social media is bringing to light what has been hidden in the dark for years. B.A.A.M.
This is my truth. This is my life's calling. These are the African American men in my life. I've been an international image and brand consultant for over 20 years, teaching both men and women how to intentionally portray the image and brand they want others to see and know about them. Perception management. Raising my sons on the importance of having good character, being men of integrity, and impress upon them the importance"acceptable" attire are the basics. The fact remains they are still B.A.A.M. (Born African American Male).
Yours In Style,