Monday, February 17, 2014

Dear Sons About That Trip To Grandpa in Florida - We Need To Talk About Race And Reason

Dear Sons;

I don't know if you know this but the rest of the world only sees you as black and latino. Nevermind that you are all regular American young men, with parents, okay divorced but nowadays whose aren't. Nevermind that you all went to public school, put your clothes on the same way, listen to music the same way, regardless of the type of music you like, that you have movie nights with friends, you hang out in front or around your school on some afternoons shooting the breeze with your close pals or that you all have had part time jobs just like any other teen or twenty something.

You are Black. You are Latino. That is all some people will ever see when they see you. Now the media has been highlighting some tragedies lately, more dangerous really than the bad negative news we are drowned in on a daily basis. There was the case of Trayvon Martin where he was visiting his dad in Florida, decided to go to the store and on his way home while minding his own business he was killed by a disturbed racist man named George Zimmerman. There was the case of Jonathan A. Ferrell who was a 24-year-old former football player for Florida A&M University who worked two jobs and moved to North Carolina to be closer to his girl who was shot even though all he wanted was help after a car crash. Oh wait, that's North Carolina where your aunt lives. Sorry, that's the next letter. Let me stick to Florida for now.

The latest case is of the murder of 17 year old Jordan Davis when a white man your mom's age got pissed off that an SUV of black teens had their radio on too loud so he went to confront them. For whatever reason that racist ignorant individual felt justified in unloading 10 gun shots into the SUV hitting and killing Jordan Davis. The case was all over the TV, Cable and the internet. The verdict has people pissed off but as long as the man is going to be behind bars I figure God and Karma are going to have their own day in "court" with the man.

I tell you all this because even I as a little girl was given talks by grandpa about how to act and behave when I leave the house. You see we are not white. We are not descendant from the people who put the laws of this land in place. now do we belong here? Oh most definitely. Are we equal in the eyes of the law? No, so I have to sit you all down and school you as my dad has schooled me. There is danger everywhere. You must be aware of your surroundings, of the kinds of places you pass by and the kinds of people come across. When you come across law enforcement, especially in Florida, you stay still, you keeps your hands visible and you be as respectful as you possibly can. If they are being unreasonable say nothing. You know the drill. You call the family lawyer Kenneth. He's in Florida and he knows the law there.

I was blessed in being able to interview Ken, my childhood friend of forty years on this issue. Mom wasn't sure she was going to let any of you visit grandma and grandpa after all this. But I figured who better to ask than someone who had the best view on what was happening in the state that our relatives and so many of my friends from NYC decided to migrate to. Who else to ask (and interview - mom's always gotta hustle for her boys, who else if going to put food on the table) about the law and what appears to be out of control danger for boys of color in Florida than a man who identifies with both sides.

So I interviewed him and I see that it's sadly the same as when he and I were growing up on Franklin Ave in Brooklyn thirty-five years ago. Our parents sat us down and gave us a map on how to navigate and behave in areas where the people might flip out and begin to act unreasonable. What is unreasonable? You sadly know what that's about. Possible name calling, looking for an altercation simply because you are different in look, clothing, language and perceptions. Perceptions are dangerous my darlings and ignorant people brought up to believe the worst of people like you and me will react in unreasonable ways. Even law enforcement even though our family have so many members in and around the country. That won't matter in the heat of the moment if you come face to face with someone looking to make trouble.

Do as best as you can my darlings to extricate yourselves from there. Call, text, IM me, your dad or Ken if you think you are in the middle of something that will become out of your control. DO NOT HESITATE. Whoever is closest will be there for you. Your lives are the most precious thing to us and I will not spend my nights for fear of becoming another mother who loses her child for the stupidest reasons and the ignorant fears of fools. Those mothers did not raise their children to have what transpired happen. None of us do. But this is the world we live in my dears. This is now as it was back when I was a child and maybe, one day it won't be. But until then, we will always have our talks. Because you and I are black. Because you and I are latino.

Now, about North Carolina....

Love Mom

Click on the link to see the interview of Kenneth L. Foote Pasco Criminal Defense Atty on Martin Dunn Case Good Men Project 1.

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 25, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 21, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, 18, HS Senior in NYC, an amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

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