Is the worth of an African American male priceless or is it comparable to meaningless matter, insignificant and cheap? For centuries the value and worth of the black male in society has come under question, as if God didn’t create everyone equally. Who are we as a society of brothers and sisters to determine otherwise?
As I sat in my room and watched the Michael Dunn verdict, I immediately reflected on the question: What is the value of an African American male? The jury convicted Michael Dunn on four of five charges against him, but were indecisive concerning the murder charge. How can you be uncertain when 17-year-old Jordan Davis was unarmed and was unable to protect himself from the rage of Michael Dunn? Furthermore how could you shoot into a car because of loud “thuggish” music and then go home as if your actions were normal? A mother and father have lost their son because someone felt threatened by the face of difference rather than seeing the heart of similarity. A split jury, some who will never see the black experience, has decided that a mistrial is better than convicting a man who killed out of malice towards someone different. Is it a matter of changing the laws or changing the individual who views African Americans as inferior second-class citizens?
One could pontificate that the laws need to be amended, but the world will always have its stance on the value of an African American male. This ongoing sense of injustice has continued to be a huge problem within our society. Some may deem that we should worry about other issues. Some may revert back to the argument about black-on-black violence, but is this a mechanism to cover up the overall injustice towards African American men? Should we ignore these new Jim Crow laws and modern-day lynchings of African American men? Several African Americans have been mistreated by the judicial system that is only designed to work for people with privilege and power. Brothers such as Emmet Till, Oscar Grant III, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Danroy Henry, Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and several others have been victims of an unfair system that judges based on “the color of the skin rather than the content of character.”
When personal bias and bigotry enters the soul, it damages the very fabric of what it means to be alive in this world. Being alive in the world means waking up everyday acknowledging that God created everything well without blemishes. Personal difference is not a blemish but rather it is the gateway to exploring the essence of God. I am not a blemish and I am not an enigma. I am an educated black man who may be different on the exterior because of my skin, but I breathe the same air as those from other cultures. I am a black man who longs for the moment when we all walk down the hallways of schools and jobs with love towards one another. I am a black man who wants people to see my rich value rather than my skin tone. I am not a monster. I am human. We all are precious in the eyes of God and we should cherish the fact that we are worth more than silver and gold. With our seminary experience let’s change the world so that everyone can be treated equally and fairly.
Lawrence is a second-year MDiv student at Candler, a student ambassador, and president of the Black Student Caucus. He is a licensed minister in the American Baptist Churches (USA) and has served as a youth pastor for several years.