For Now, Young Black Males Matter…Until the Cameras Go Off

What most people don’t understand about poor Black males on inner-city streets:

Interesting how the story in Ferguson is shifting to talk about all of the young Black males showing up to protest on the streets day and night. I can tell you now, they will not stay off the streets tonight. But it’s not just because they are angry and tired of mistreatment by police. It’s because they are tired of being ignored.

Because of this tragic shooting the media has shown up and cameras are rolling. The world is watching. Brothers in the hood finally get to be noticed. The same brothers who were on those streets before the shooting and nobody gave a damn. Young Black males who needed attention a long time ago. Young men who struggle to survive, fight emotional and psychological battles daily, trying to convince themselves not to give up. These young brothers have been wanting some attention most of their lives. They have wanted people to show up and act like they care BEFORE someone gets killed.

But someone did. Although how they are going about it may be wrong. In many of their minds, they are finally getting some attention, people finally see them, a small part of their story is being told. If they go inside now, they know that they will cease to matter. America will go right back to not caring about what happens to them. In their minds they have to stay outside, they will do whatever it takes to keep the cameras rolling. It’s almost as if they are saying please don’t go away, please stay, because the moment you leave or turn the channel, no one will care anymore. They will go back to struggling in silence and irrelevance. If people stop protesting and the cameras go away, the silence of the streets will be deafening for young Black males. The silence will be a sign that it’s over, our moment is gone, people don’t care anymore and once again, we are alone. In a sense, they will be abandoned one more time.

If you’ve never been a kid who was thrown away by everybody who looks at you, judged because you’re poor, never told that you matter, never told that you’re smart, never told that you are loved, and never told that you have the potential to do great things, then you have no idea what it’s like to be a young Black male living on the streets of the hood who’s been treated like he doesn’t matter for a long time. These young brothers that you see on the streets will do whatever it takes to keep the attention going and the cameras rolling, because for now, they matter.

Romal-300Romal Tune is a speaker, coach, activist and author of God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens. Visit his website at


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10 responses to “For Now, Young Black Males Matter…Until the Cameras Go Off”

  1. Or maybe it’s because they can stay up late, cause they have nothing else to do, and no job to go to the next morning. It ain’t about Michael Brown getting shot anymore.

  2. These young thugs do not matter. They are well on the way in the school-to-prison pipeline and need to get to their destination as soon as possible.

  3. At what age does a man realize that “getting noticed” is not a good thing? No truly great man did his great things to “get noticed.” All men are capable of great things if they know what great things are. Few do.

  4. The senseless murder of young black men in this country is, disappointing. The riot like behavior thats been distracting the media from the initial message of dedicated protestors is disappointing. Articles like these that undermine the efforts of people who are responding to injustice, (‘poor black men just want attention’, rather than, ‘poor black men have lives that matter too, are tired of being treated as if they don’t, and are willing to take action to get that message across,’) is even more disappointing. The most disappointing of all are people who read things like this and buy the bull.
    I am glad to have God, because humans are one disappointment after another.

  5. I agree that there probably are some out there for that reason. People like Mr Adolf Verloc down there won’t see the difference. Because of that, statements like ‘These young brothers that you see on the streets will do whatever it takes to keep the attention going and the cameras rolling,’ are a problem.

  6. I would say you do not matter either, and the sooner we get you into the concentration camp the better. All persons have value. Deal with the problems, not dispose of the people

  7. Then young black males should go out of their way to live with each other in peace, study hard, out WASP the WASPs . . . .

  8. Could the ‘attention’ he is referring to be the attention to the injustice they live with every day, rather than narcissism? Rather than undermining their efforts, I took this as affirming them.