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COLUMNS

McCleod: Welcome to my world, the world of a black man

Staff Writer
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
McCleod

These last few weeks have been so telling as to what life has been like most of my adult life. There are those who will never truly understand, those who show sympathy, those who feel empathy, and those who are unaffected and could care less. Well, this is my world as a black man.

As a black man I fear each day that something will go wrong or I will be at the wrong place at the wrong time and feel the hatred exposed simply by the color of my skin.

I fear the moments that my three boys go from being cute and handsome to being mistaken and a threat. I fear that in rooms full of my counterparts that I am too careful not to offend the people around me because of the family I must feed when I make it home, and my position can be stripped from me in a blink of an eye.

I fear not speaking up because I don’t want to look like the angry black man in the room.

I fear the moments in which I can’t be hurt or sad because I never want to look like the victim or weak in any situation. When, in reality, I am a victim every day of the systemic racism that has surfaced its ugly face in our world.

I fear the moments in which I have to work extremely hard with a smile on my face even when I can’t find a reason to smile, in order to prove I am qualified to do my job, and it wasn’t “given” to me because I am a black man.

I am fearful that if I don’t stand up for my community of color that I get pushed out, and called an Uncle Tom when others don’t agree with me.

I fear that speaking with my sons about how to react when dealing with law enforcement won’t save their lives someday. That how they dress, how they carry themselves, how educated, or how well they speak won’t be enough to save them in a world that hates them simply because of their birth. A birth that only I forced them to be a part of.

I fear that in 10 years things won’t be better, and that those who think George Floyd’s death and the countless others is a joke for their social media platforms will grow up and inherit this country’s wealth and raise their children in the same light.

Not only do I have these fears, but I also have the fear of seeing our own young men in our communities kill one another with no one batting an eye because it has become the “norm” for so many.

I fear the streets always being more enticing for our young men no matter the consequence because they never see anyone “make it” and be paid like those in the streets, even if it is temporarily.

Each and every day I have to bury all of these fears and stand up and be a Black Man in a world that will never love or understand each suppressed emotion that travels through my body each and every day.

We will continue to walk for our community each Tuesday night to end gun violence and stand up for justice and equality because some day I have hope that these fears won’t be the fears faced in our city.

AJ McCleod is the Director of Camps for the YWCA of Lubbock and East Lubbock Community Alliance Facilitator, a 2004 graduate of Estacado High School and a lifelong Lubbock resident.