Don’t Be Black – A conversation I hope you never have to have with your kids

Don’t Be Black – A conversation I hope you never have to have with your kids May 7, 2020

Once again, I am in the unenviable position of having to have “the talk” with my sons.

No, it’s not the “don’t do drugs” talk. Not the “don’t have sex before marriage” talk. Not even the “don’t drink and drive” talk.

No, this talk is the “don’t be black” talk. I’m sure you have it with your kids, right? If not, it goes like this…

“If you’re out and about, just jogging, listening to music, pumping gas, visiting a convenience store, at the park, or at school, don’t be black or some racist, white supremacist, or police officer (or any combination of the three) may kill you for no other reason besides your skin color.”

Now, I’ve made a pact with Patheos not to use profanity egregiously in this forum and I’m not going to — as bad as I want to. However, I am going to take this moment to air my righteous indignation.

Back in February, a young man by the name of Ahmaud Arbrey was out jogging. The presence of a black man running down the street triggered a couple of yahoos who “thought he fit the description of someone who committed a crime.” These two yahoos, a father and son — I point this out because some of you errantly believe that racism will simply die out — grabbed their guns and set out in the proverbial pickup truck to “run him down and confront him.”

What happened next is something straight out of a Key and Peele movie; in attempting to corner Arbrey, one of the two yahoos gets out and levels his weapon at Arbrey.

I don’t know about you, but if someone points a gun at me, if they don’t have a uniform and badge to back up this assertion, I’m going to resist. You’re not going to point a gun at me and get the “compliant negro” response from me.

For the record, I’ve taught my sons to comply fully with law enforcement requests. For all others, I’ve taught them to respond intelligently, even if that means disabling the gunman.

I would suspect that Ahmaud feared for his life. I also suspect, based on his response, that he believed these yahoos had no intention of “waiting for the police” as so many apologists have proffered.

No, these dudes were gonna show a nigger who was boss. And they did. And now a young man is dead. A young life full of promise has been snuffed out.

Of course, the obligatory criminal history was scraped and laid bare for all to see. Because, the dead nigger has to be demonized. It’s the American way!

Irrespective of his past, there’s this ostensibly Constitutionally-guaranteed thing called due process. There’s also something in that same Constitution that protects against egregious punishments for crimes committed.

In other words, nothing Arbrey did warranted the death penalty.

As heinous and reprehensible this lynching — let’s not mince words, here — is, that isn’t the thrust of this writing.

My absolute anger and disappointment lie with the community that calls itself “christians.” You see, “christians” are supposed to be loving, forgiving, and — in the modern context — pro-life.

The hard truth is that they are none of these.

For years, I have made it a point to build bridges between races and cultures. I’ve diligently extended empathy and compassion to all. But it seems that every time some black person is killed by reckless civilians or overzealous law-enforcement officers (far too many, I might add), I reach out to my white christian friends and you know what I get?

Deafening silence.

I have a few white friends now who are VERY vocal about this. One (Keith Giles) even wrote a blog about it; you can read it here. I’m very grateful for these folks because, without them, I believe I’d lose all hope for humanity.

Did you know that when the patriots (yep, I went there) who dared defy the Alabama state police and crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge outside Selma, Alabama in 1965, the event was televised live? Yep. And when white Americans who had an idea of what was going on in the Jim Crow south, they got to see it up close.

And you know what? They were disgusted.

So disgusted, in fact, they literally broke the Capitol and White House switchboards with calls of outrage. This led to pioneering Civil Rights legislation.

But there’s no outrage, today. Barely a whimper. Black people are frequently target practice for cops and racists and no one seems to care.

Here’s the thing, though: the same kind of action, today, would yield the same kind of result. Know why? Because politicians understand voter outrage and it’s translation into votes.

The purpose of this piece is not to point fingers or to try and guilt people into action. The purpose of this is to simply give you a view from where I sit. I want to see Ahmaud Arbrey’s killers brought to justice and the full weight of the criminal justice system brought to bear upon them. I would like for Ahmaud’s parents and siblings to have closure and peace. I want to make this incident the last time this kind of hate-driven foolishness happens.

I have five beautiful sons. One the same age as Ahmaud Arbrey. And like Ahmaud, they are athletic and dedicated to physical fitness. They love to run. They are also highly intelligent and (ahem) well-mannered. Like Ahmaud, they are full of promise and potential. And it’s my job to give them all the tools to live their lives to the fullest.

Unlike the conversation most of you have with your kids when they leave the house, I have to add something frighteningly frustrating:

Don’t be black so you won’t die.

So I’d like to turn this around — can someone please get angry about this so that my sons don’t have to worry about not being something they are unable to change?

Is that too much to ask?


Are you a wanderer in faith? Here’s some good news: NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST!

That said, I cordially invite you to NOMAD 2020 — a live virtual event featuring Keith Giles, Karl and Laura Forehand, Kyle Butler, Cody and Elaine Johnston, Katy Valentine, Todd Vick, PK Langley, Bill Thrasher. Earlybird discount registration is available now at:

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