For My Little Brothers

I am the oldest of three, yet my two baby brothers tower over me. To me, no matter how tall they grow or how deep their voices get, they will always be the little brothers or “the boys” as they are better known in family conversations. At times, I see their innocence, like when we spend days riding rollercoasters at the amusement parks. Other times, I see their sensitivity, like when one wakes up early to make me breakfast; Or his creative side, when the other surprises me with an origami flower and a handmade pillow to take with me on the plane.

You see these are my daily images of young black men. Loving, caring, joyful, determined and driven. They are brothers, sons, nephews, best friends, grandsons and great-grandsons. They are phenomenal students, exceptional athletes and have so much to offer our world. They are college-bound, hardworking and defy the negative stereotypes given to them by mainstream society.

I think of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford all senselessly taken, some before reaching high school graduation. Sadly, there are so many more stories like these.  Homicide rates are reaching alarming heights, all the while Stand Your Ground Laws are in full-fledged effect.

They should be able to wear hoodies when they want to and listen to loud music if they want to without being labeled a “threat” to anyone. They should be protected—not gunned down by law enforcement. They should be treated equally by the justice system and they’re right to life should not be stripped by someone "who decides to play judge, jury and executioner" as Melissa Harris-Perry says.

The first line of the Declaration of Human Rights reads, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. But this right cannot be recognized with the prevalence of racial profiling across our nation. Now is the time to bring awareness to the halt of Stand Your Ground laws and dismantle an unjust system, which allows young black men to be seen as threats and not human beings.