When I was 17, I listened to a lot of loud rap music. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, only 40 miles away from where realities were being spit on cassette tapes by young, black men who didn’t think they would make it past 21. 17 years later, unfortunately this is still the reality. The lyrics might have changed, but the beat still bangs hard. From Jacksonville to Brownsville to the ville in Chicago, 21 is still that hopeful age.
Mothers stay awake at night, praying their sons make it home from that friend’s birthday party. Fathers sit by the phone hoping that their sons call if they ever find trouble. And other 17 year olds attend way too many funerals of other 17 year olds. However, the beat that still bangs hard gives us a moment of clarity. A moment of honesty. Another moment to feel our truths.
Truth be told, when Trayvon Martin died, we knew it would happen again. We rallied. We marched. We protested. We signed petitions. We put our hoodies up. But in the back of our minds we knew that it would happen again. There is no comparison between the deaths of any seventeen year old, as every life is sacred and the families deserve to have their own periods of mourning.
So don’t confuse this with thinking that I am comparing the two, but something is happening in this country that has to come to an end. We don’t want the fear that some have of young black men to be a disease our country cannot cure.
We must fight everyday to build a more compassionate America. A more generous America. A more tolerant America. This is the make-up of our generation’s DNA, the bloodline of our future. We know that this vision of a new America will not be accomplished quickly, so we must continue to make the beat bang. Slavery did not end without many lives lost. A woman’s right to vote did not come easily. The Civil Rights movement lasted over two decades. The gay rights movement finally has caught some traction.
So, if we are to believe that our country can be that beacon of hope, then we must continue our journey towards justice. And not be afraid to turn. the. music. up!
RIP Jordan Davis. Our prayers are with your family and friends.