Ononye, Elisha.jpg

Ononye is a visual communications freshman and CommUNITY Voices columnist. 

Right from when we were younger, have we not been told to treat others the way we want to be treated? Living as an African-American in the U.S. has been a continuous learning curve for me as an individual and as a black man. Never in my life have I felt so socially aware of my race than in the last few months.

Watching the media shine a light on the darkness that lurks in our society taught me that we still live in a prejudice-filled world. We all go on with our lives and pretend racism doesn’t exist, but soon realize its reality when shown by the media. The black men shot in recent cases posed no harm. They were unarmed and compliant, yet the outcome was their tragic death.

What irks me the most is that people always seem to find a reason to justify why the cop shot. One must realize that being black in the U.S. is often seen as a sort of stigma or bad reputation. People assume the worst without knowing you, and we know it’s because that’s the world we live in daily. It makes some of us defensive and guarded. When a cop pulls you over, as a black man you assume the worst though you have done nothing wrong. From birth, society has instilled that you’re a bad person or someone who isn’t to be trusted.

In effect, cops have no healthy perception of the black man, and therefore have no trust in him. We end up having a situation in which two people have no trust in each other. Lack of trust between the cop and the fellow black man then results in an unnecessary shooting.

It greatly pains me when I see the videos and read about these events; how miscommunication and lack of trust can result in such a tragic end of human life.

When it is all said and done, people blame it on the black man for a problem that isn’t all his fault. We as a community are partly to blame for creating a society that victimizes African-Americans and instills fear in the minds of other citizens that we are dangerous fellows.

Every day we deal with subtle and direct racism, but we still carry on. As a black man, I have witnessed it times without number in my life, in job hunts, or when the lady in the aisle adjusts her bag when she sees me walking toward her.

Racism isn’t just real, it’s alive, and we have to change our attitude toward it. We can’t keep pretending and remain silent as if nothing is wrong. It makes us as guilty as those who do it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his letter to Birmingham, “Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Stand up for what is right; change cannot happen by goodwill or thought only but by action. Go out, smile and give your fellow African-American citizen a hug, and tell them that they are loved and cared for. Get involved in your community, and promote peace and love.

That’s how we change a world filled with prejudice and racism, we purge it with love and understanding.

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