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On Speaking Ill of the Recently Departed, the Need for Sainthood, and the Impossible Standards used When it Comes Time to Mourn Dead Black Boys

Earlier this morning I came across an article from the New York Times entitled “A Teenager Grappling With Problems and Promise” penned by John Eligon. The teenager in question is Michael Brown who was murdered by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. There’s no need to recap the actions and goings on surrounding Brown’s death and if you’re not familiar with it then you’re either a corpse or purposely keeping yourself ignorant of current events.

One fact remains: Michael Brown is dead. Today is the day of his burial leaving his parents and community to pick up the pieces and reflect on what has occurred and what never will occur.

John Eligon’s article is a crushing reminder of a sad trend that I’ve noticed when it comes to the deaths’ of young black males. Every inane aspect of a departed black males’ life will be picked apart by the press and the public as if they are looking to find some smoking gun as to how the young man should be judged.

What kind of a student was he?

Was he a good kid?

Were they kind?

Were they athletic?

Did they have a criminal past?

Did they use drugs?

Whether it’s Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown it seems that black boys have to be found worthy of being mourned. That their days among the living have to be examined multiple times just to make sure that they lived a life that justifies America’s tears. That is if America cries at all.

My parents always told me not to speak ill of the recently departed because they deserve a time to be thought of in a regard that was respectful of their family and friends. Am I saying that every black boy is a saint? No, I’m not but I’m saying that the American public should be mindful of its treatment of the legacies of young men like Brown. There is no need to put a kid on trial for smoking weed, being a less than stellar student, or shop lifting when none of those things played into his death.

None of those things make Michael Brown or any other dead black boy any less worthy of being mourned and missed by his family, friends, and classmates. He shouldn’t have had to live a Carlton Banks like life to be seen a worthy as some white person in Nebraska’s sorry. Michael Brown was a teen who was not perfect but their imperfections didn’t make him Al Capone either. The need to justify the mourning of a black boy only perpetuates a sad trend of devaluing the lives of black males. As a black male I will tell you that you will never find a saint among our ranks but I can also tell you that there are a lot less monsters than you would think.

Vaya con Dios.

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5 responses to “On Speaking Ill of the Recently Departed, the Need for Sainthood, and the Impossible Standards used When it Comes Time to Mourn Dead Black Boys

  1. *sigh*

    its an interesting dichotomy that Blacks face in the time of their killings. it’d be one thing to analyze the life of a criminal who committed a heinous crime. i think most people are interested in knowing what a person and their life was like to cause them to wreak havoc on communities. but to delve into the life of VICTIMS in the same way is just… horrible. as if shedding light on the life they led would give merit to their murdered selves and free folks of the need to care or acknowledge their personhood. had Michael Brown or Trayvon been known criminals and had histories of “police” (or police-wannabes) run-ins, i could see a case for how their pasts might be relevant to their deaths.

    not that i expect all murdered Black victims be treated as blameless, spotless people – who can be that?? i think what most of us desire is to have some common f*cking decency as human beings whose lives matter during the urgent pursuit of justice. is that too much to ask??

  2. that shit pissed me off so bad. especially when i saw a side by side comparison that the times did on ted bundy. they all but called him a saint and said that he is innocent until proven guilty. smh.

    we already know how they feel about us. but its never about race tho.

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