400 years ago Africans were taken from their homes and forced to come and build a new world and that price of their own blood, sweat, and tears. These same Africans and their descendent s have fought so hard to rise above their expectations in this country that I am proud to say that 400 years later after being brought here as slaves; a black man is the President of the United States.
In school we learn a lot about the American legends such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, etc. But what consistently seems to catch my mind is; what would these people think about a black man calling himself President of the United States. These people would have to laugh at the bogus statement about a black man being president. Many of them not only owned slaves; but believed that African-Americans were not capable of taking care of their own selves and that slavery was needed. But hundreds of years later a man named Barack Hussein Obama would break all these stereotypical mindsets by becoming the 44th President of the United States of America.
Sad to say that this same man who has broken so many barriers and has been through so much adversity in his life; is one of the most disrespected Presidents in the history of America. He is a man that has been publicly criticized and ridiculed for every decision that he makes. President Obama has defeated all odds that are set against him; and even though he should looked upon as inspiration; I believe that things have only gotten worse for young black boys that are trying to succeed in the American society.
I myself am a 17 year old black boy that has been born and raised in the city of San Bernardino, California. A city which only reputations seems to be “The Home of the Crack heads” and is constantly referred to as “San Bernaghetto“. I guess I can say the stereotypes that are brought against my city are true. We do have a high homeless rate and if you go to the right area; you will see a lot drug addicts wandering around. But what I believe is our biggest problem is the problem that no one can see with the naked eye. That problem is the genocide of young black males in the city of San Bernardino.
As I look around black boys in my city are being killed off in several different type of ways. One way is they’re literally being killed whether due to gang banging or by the hands of a police officer; black mothers have to bury young black boys my age every day. Another way I see black boys getting killed is the destruction of their mind through drugs such as marijuana but mostly crack cocaine. The last but not least way I see this genocide happening is prison.
More and more black boys of all ages are being thrown into prison and never seeing the light of day again. Although some of these methods are not physically killing young black males; they are still killing off black male’s individuality from society. Which is still a form of genocide; and I know that my city isn’t the only city where this genocide is taking place. It’s going on everywhere in America and there and there is no end in sight. But I’m not here to point out who is responsible for this nationwide genocide that is going on; I just want to show that there is a problem no solution has been shown yet. The only thing one can really wonder is; WHO’S NEXT?
So I guess this is where I myself come back in. I’m growing up in the midst of this genocide. Now of course I’m not a gang banger, I don’t do drugs, and I’m not planning on getting caught up with the law anytime soon. And even though I love hip hop I’m not an aspirating rapper. I honestly do love to watch sports and even occasionally play sports but the phrase “BALL IS LIFE” doesn’t really fall into my category. I honestly do not like watermelon and I think Kool-Aid is disgusting.
Now even though I just separated myself with common stereotypes that black people are faced with every day; for some reason I am still abruptly thrown right back into. So every time I step outside; somebody sees a tall black male and ask the question I hear almost every day. “Do you play ball?” Every time I hear this question I kindly tell them “no“; and then they ask “Well why not?” As if it is a requirement that play sports. Being given this feeling is a feeling that I don’t like because it makes me feel as I’m left out; or as if I’m missing something that I should have.
And if I was to compare the number of times I’ve been asked if played ball to the number of times I’ve been asked what college do I want to go to or what are some of my goals in life; the numbers would 10 to 1 with the ball question receiving 10. But then I wonder to myself; what would the numbers be like if a white kid that was a little bit shorter was asked the same questions? Would the numbers still be 10 to 1? Most definitely not; and with this conclusion more questions arise. Why is it when the teacher wants to make a class rap; I’m the first one to be chosen? But when it’s time to choose a group leader; the class laughs when I volunteer myself? And what I’ve come to realize is that it’s an issue that’s bigger than racism or politics. It’s the issue of equality. The issue that we are set out to be treated equal but in reality terms people are intentionally put behind others in the race for success that we all strive for in America.
But for some reason people don’t see this. They don’t believe that black people; especially black men; no longer have struggles. That just because there is a black president all of America’s race issues have disappeared. Well I’m here to say that race issues in America are still very much alive and have even gotten worse in some areas. For now it is proven that a black man can achieve anything that he sets his mind to in his country. So just like President Obama broke the stereo types that our prejudice founding fathers had on African-Americans; I must do the same and break the stereotypes of the prejudice individuals in my society. But my road to success will be ten times harder than it has for any other black men before. For people now know what we are capable of and what we can achieve.
So as I strive on in the quest for success in America; I stop at times, look at myself, and ask then I ask myself; “What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” Why I want to succeed so badly is a question that I have not been able to answer for myself yet. I guess I just know that there has to be something better out there than where I am right now. That somewhere out there; there is a place of peace and rest. And at times I again take a look at myself and I ask the question; “Who are you?”
Well I think that’s pretty easy to answer; my name is Brandon Watts, I’m 17 years old, and I’m a young black male that wants to succeed in America. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be a young black male striving to succeed in this American society? I’ve come to the conclusion that that only means one thing; it means that I have a very long road ahead of me. A road that consisted of me breaking large barriers and the faith to keep moving when all odd are against me. But I know that failure is something that I shall never seek. For I am on the side of the side of the God almighty.
So what does it mean to be a young black man living in America? It means that not much is expected of me. It means that if I’m not playing sports, rapping songs, telling jokes, or doing anything else that entertains people; then I’m obviously a gang banger, a drug dealer, or some other kind of criminal. But it also means that I come from a long line of greatness; I come from people who never gave up and defeated all odds. It means that whatever I go through in life; I will always have God by my side.
Staff Writer; Brandon Watts