Twitter Spotlights the Death of Mike Brown

Twitter is full of sympathy and outrage regarding Mike Brown, the unarmed teen killed by Ferguson, Missouri police on Saturday. Some women tweeted fear that their sons might “end up likely dead or in jail just for being black”. Pictures depicted signs with the words, “kill police”. Tweeters referenced Trayvon Martin’s death 2½ years ago, as “proof” that “blacks are a target”. Many referenced similarities between the police in 1950 and today. Many blamed the death on stereotypes they insist people hold regarding blacks. Yes, this death does seem senseless, but if we want to “make sure this never happens again” we need to take an honest look.

It’s unfortunate women say they have a son who may end up “dead or in jail”. These mothers are right, though. The top cause of death for black men is homicide. Some studies say that 1 in 3 black men will serve time in prison at some point in their lives. While these are devastating epidemics, where does the blame lie?

“Kill the police” was another refrain. No doubt blacks have had a turbulent relationship with police through the years, often through no fault of their own. But this is not 1950. In 2014, police are saving and protecting black lives.  Police officers don’t go to work wanting to kill a black person. Police have a tough job and people in their communities need to work with them. Anger will further deteriorate the relationship between them and the community.

People accused some of “hunting down” black males. This is dangerous and untrue. When you consider the homicide rate in America, we should have a story like Mike Brown every day. Just in Chicago, there is a murder daily. Most of the victims are black. Why the silence? Does the black community not care about those deaths? It’s hypocritical to ignore those deaths.

America in 2014 is not the same as it was in 1950. Just because thousands tweet that racism is alive doesn’t make it true. Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson gave his Great Society speech. Intentionally or not, did Great Society programs enable single-parent households? The strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is if they were raised by a single parent. The women who were tweeting they are afraid to have a black son because he may end up in jail should take note.

Tweeters expressed frustration that black men are stereotyped. Maybe. Does anyone ever wonder why some hold these stereotypes instead of simply insisting they shouldn’t? If we admit that there is a double standard and that people may be unfairly suspicious of blacks, how do we go about changing that perception? Do we embrace the thug culture? Black people can do better than that in 2014. If you don’t like the stereotype, do your part to change it. Don’t expect to be treated like anything but a thug if you walk around like one. You claim you want to wear saggy pants and hoodies (and you should be able to), but you’ve got to recognize that the stereotype exists. It won’t change overnight.  

Social media has given us a place where voices are heard. All people want the senseless killing of young men, black or white, to stop. We all have the same goal of wanting every American regardless of their background to achieve their dreams. We may have different views on how to accomplish this. Trying to silence others allows this cycle to continue and makes one wonder if blacks really want an honest discussion of “why this is happening”, or if they want to be victims forever? One tweeter wrote, “White people should stop talking and listen.” Maybe this person ought to take that advice.

Please follow the author on Twitter MaryAnne@maryannemercog

Twitter is full of sympathy and outrage regarding Mike Brown, the unarmed teen killed by Ferguson, Missouri police on Saturday. Some women tweeted fear that their sons might “end up likely dead or in jail just for being black”. Pictures depicted signs with the words, “kill police”. Tweeters referenced Trayvon Martin’s death 2½ years ago, as “proof” that “blacks are a target”. Many referenced similarities between the police in 1950 and today. Many blamed the death on stereotypes they insist people hold regarding blacks. Yes, this death does seem senseless, but if we want to “make sure this never happens again” we need to take an honest look.

It’s unfortunate women say they have a son who may end up “dead or in jail”. These mothers are right, though. The top cause of death for black men is homicide. Some studies say that 1 in 3 black men will serve time in prison at some point in their lives. While these are devastating epidemics, where does the blame lie?

“Kill the police” was another refrain. No doubt blacks have had a turbulent relationship with police through the years, often through no fault of their own. But this is not 1950. In 2014, police are saving and protecting black lives.  Police officers don’t go to work wanting to kill a black person. Police have a tough job and people in their communities need to work with them. Anger will further deteriorate the relationship between them and the community.

People accused some of “hunting down” black males. This is dangerous and untrue. When you consider the homicide rate in America, we should have a story like Mike Brown every day. Just in Chicago, there is a murder daily. Most of the victims are black. Why the silence? Does the black community not care about those deaths? It’s hypocritical to ignore those deaths.

America in 2014 is not the same as it was in 1950. Just because thousands tweet that racism is alive doesn’t make it true. Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson gave his Great Society speech. Intentionally or not, did Great Society programs enable single-parent households? The strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is if they were raised by a single parent. The women who were tweeting they are afraid to have a black son because he may end up in jail should take note.

Tweeters expressed frustration that black men are stereotyped. Maybe. Does anyone ever wonder why some hold these stereotypes instead of simply insisting they shouldn’t? If we admit that there is a double standard and that people may be unfairly suspicious of blacks, how do we go about changing that perception? Do we embrace the thug culture? Black people can do better than that in 2014. If you don’t like the stereotype, do your part to change it. Don’t expect to be treated like anything but a thug if you walk around like one. You claim you want to wear saggy pants and hoodies (and you should be able to), but you’ve got to recognize that the stereotype exists. It won’t change overnight.  

Social media has given us a place where voices are heard. All people want the senseless killing of young men, black or white, to stop. We all have the same goal of wanting every American regardless of their background to achieve their dreams. We may have different views on how to accomplish this. Trying to silence others allows this cycle to continue and makes one wonder if blacks really want an honest discussion of “why this is happening”, or if they want to be victims forever? One tweeter wrote, “White people should stop talking and listen.” Maybe this person ought to take that advice.

Please follow the author on Twitter MaryAnne@maryannemercog