“Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men”: Connections (Letter 1)

Pray! Think! Do!

Sir, I am assuming that you are attracted to women, and not to men.

You want to live your life in such a way that God can take you home at any time.

‘Longevity has its place,’ but doing the job that God designed you to do is the ultimate joy.

CONNECTIONS
Letter One

Dear Y.B.M.:

It has been a while since I have written to you. I trust that you are growing spiritually, mentally, and otherwise in your life as a young black man.

Again, I want to thank you for the many kind letters and e-mails that I received from you in response to the book, Letters to Young Black Men: Advice and Encouragement for a Difficult Journey. It was good to hear from you.

As for me, my family and I are doing well. We have had a few challenges since I last wrote to you, but we are doing fine, thank the Lord. Continue reading

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How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 1 (The Man in the Mirror #3)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/26357/229681-how-to-survive-an-encounter-with-the-police-as-a-young-black-person-part-1-the-man-in-the-mirror-3.mp3]

You have likely heard people use the phrase “driving while black” or “shopping while black” more often in recent times. Blacks have come to use such phrases to describe how they feel mistreated or feel as though they are looked at suspiciously by police, store workers, security guards, and others simply because of the color of their skin.

miami-policeA few months ago, an upscale department store in New York City reached a $525 million settlement with two young black people who experienced such discrimination. 19-year-old Trayon Christian and 21-year-old Kayla Phillips both legally purchased items from the store, however after they left the store, they were followed and detained by police officers who had been summoned by store workers on the suspicion that they had stolen the items from the store. Others, particularly black men, have reported that such “shop and frisk” cases are common for blacks who shop at higher-end retailers. Even though they felt insulted and humiliated, these two young people worked through the legal system to resolve their cases. Not only did they end up winning a legal settlement in their favor (and a whole lot of money), but they caused the New York store chain to adopt a Customer’s Bill of Rights which prohibits employees from profiling customers and acting on suspicions based solely on the race of the customer. In short, they made things better for everybody.

The sad truth, however, is that such a case may still happen to you as a young black person in America. You may face scrutiny, suspicious glances, or extensive questioning from store workers, security guards, and the police when all you are doing is shopping, driving or walking down the street. Many people make the mistake of reacting negatively or in a hostile manner when they are confronted by law enforcement because they feel as though they are being treated unfairly. Such a reaction, unfortunately, often leads to arrests, rough handling by the police, and, far too often, a police officer fatally shooting the suspect.

Today, I want to begin sharing with you how you can survive an encounter with the police. Contrary to what some today would have you to believe, the police are not your enemy. The police are a part of a God-ordained governmental authority structure. The Bible says in Romans 13:3-5: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” When you show respect for the police and the government, you are being obedient to God by honoring the authority He has set up.

However, police are human. They are flawed, and they sometimes make mistakes. Some often harbor prejudices and subscribe to stereotypes that cause them to see a young black man or a young black woman as more likely to commit a crime, and therefore, more deserving of suspicion. Thus, they may be more inclined to deal with a young black person in a rough manner. So, my aim in talking with you over the next few episodes is to simply help you stay alive and stay out of jail. No matter how you feel about how the police or the justice system treats minorities in this country, I think you would agree that it is better to have such feelings and be alive and free than it is to be dead or in jail.

So, today, I am going to share with you how to survive an encounter with the police while driving or while walking. These tips are from the National Black Police Association. They state:

If you are driving a vehicle, the police can ask you to pull over at any time. The best thing to do in this situation is to pull over and follow the officer’s directions. The officer will request to see your driver’s license, registration and/or proof of liability insurance – this you must do.

If you are stopped at night, turn on your dome light and show the officer that nothing is wrong. It is best to do nothing which may give reason to search further. Having your lights on and keeping your hands on the steering wheel will usually put the officer’s mind at ease.

Chances are that the officer is going to write out a ticket for a traffic violation. Of course, you may start to explain at this point but you should limit your comments. Be careful how you protest. A simple traffic violation may start costing you a fortune in fines for other violations. If you think that the ticket is incorrect – then, carry your protest to traffic court. If you’re given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested.

Police may stop and detain you only if they have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you are about to commit or have committed a crime. If you’re suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and refuse to take a blood, urine or breath-test, your driver’s license may be suspended.

In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.

Now, if you are stopped by the police while walking:

The police may ask for your name if you have been properly detained; you can be arrested in some states for refusing to give it. If you reasonably fear that your name is incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, which may be a defense in case you are arrested anyway. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer might make the police suspicious about you.

Police may “pat-down” your outer-clothing – if, they suspect a concealed weapon. Don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you don’t consent to any further search. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why. Don’t bad-mouth the police officer or offer resistance, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.

Most of the problems you may encounter with the police can be avoided. Remember, the police may think they have reason (probable cause) to stop you and ask questions. At this time, you should collect your thoughts and remain calm. Whether or not you are detained or arrested may just depend on how calm and prepared you are at this time. Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions. Don’t get into an argument with the police. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.

We will continue with more tips on how to survive an encounter with the police in our next episode.

You Are Not Inferior! (Letter 15)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I am back in Atlanta, and at the writing of this letter, I am on the beautiful campus of Morehouse College — the alma mater of the late and great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Down through the years, I have noticed that one of the marks of a “Morehouse man” is confidence. And that is what I want to write to you about today.

I hope that you are not one of the many young men in our community who feels inferior and shows that he feels inferior to other races — particularly the white race. It is disturbing to see so many young black men catch this disease called an inferiority complex when it comes to other races. It is almost as though this disease is in the air in the black community.

What are some of the ways that we catch this awful disease? Well, one way to get this disease is by not being raised right. Often times, if a parent does not know how to love and nurture a child while he is young, especially black boys, that child will grow up out of balance mentally, therefore feeling inferior. I am one of those who believe that young black children need lots of love, nurturing, and encouragement to turn out right in this strange society that we live in, especially black boys. It is crucial.

I believe the second reason why young black men feel inferior to others is because they have become addicted to that one eyed monster – the television set. I am convinced through my own observation of children that those children who grow up with a heavy diet of television watching will often times end up with feelings of inferiority. This happens simply because they are constantly watching others on the tube doing things and who are progressing and moving forward with their lives while they just watch. Of course, most of the people we see on television are white, and certainly most of the people we see in positive roles on television are white. This constant bombardment on our young black boys is destructive. One of the reasons why I don’t let my children watch television is because I don’t want them to think that white people are the standard of beauty and I don’t want them to think that white is always right.

In consequence of this heavy dose of television watching, they never develop a pattern of progress and success for their own lives, thus making their lives feel and appear inferior. The more you conquer, succeed, and prosper, the more competent and confident you will become.

A third reason for this feeling of inferiority among young black men is because many do not pursue more knowledge. I didn’t say education. Unfortunately, knowledge and education are not necessarily the same in our society. Be that as it may, the more knowledge that you have, the more confidence you will have. It is trite, but true – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER — and, may I say, huge power. Knowledge puts a smile on your face and a pep in your step that is unmistakable. Now when I speak of knowledge and confidence, I don’t speak of this haughty, snobbish and proud attitude that can come with knowledge. For Saint Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 8:1: “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” No, I am speaking of the humble gaining of bold, loving, and biblical confidence.

No matter where we come from, what side of the tracks we live on, how rich or poor, we as young black men can and must have the confidence and boldness to accomplish great things that God designed for us to do.

Out of all of the billions of folks who have been born into this world, there is no one like you; and there is no one who can do what you can do.

No one is better than you. You are just as good as anyone else,

Daniel

Power Thoughts

P.T.: Arthur Ashe said, “I did not equate my self-worth with my wins and losses.”

Mark Mathabane said, “The most important thing I have to fight as a black person in an oppressive, racist society is what I think about myself.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “With a spirit straining toward true self-esteem, the Negro must boldly throw off the manacles of self-abnegation and say to himself and the world: ‘I am somebody. I am a person. I am a man with dignity and honor. I have a rich and noble history.’”

John Singleton said, “If you respect yourself, it’s easier to respect other people.”

Max Robinson said, “I think one of my basic flaws has been a lack of self-esteem…always feeling like I had to do more. I never could do enough or be good enough.”