50 Shots Later...

I can't let today pass without calling attention what happened in the early hours of this morning -- two years ago.

Hours before he was to be married, a man leaving his bachelor party at a strip club in Queens that was under police surveillance was shot and killed early yesterday in a hail of police bullets, witnesses and the police said.
(from The New York Times, Nov. 26, 2008)

While everyone is riding high from the election of this nation's first black president and swooning over his utopian multi-culti cabinet, let's not forget a family that's about to go through its third holiday season without its father, brother, husband, son.

Let's not forget, while a black man is about to be leader of the free world, millions more feel trapped by a society that sees them as threats; as predators; as savages to be controlled, and, in some cases -- like Sean's -- to be taken out.

Before I rejoiced over Barack, I wept over Sean. Because in Sean (and in Amadou Diallo), I saw my father, my brother, my cousins, and the men I have loved in my life. In Sean Bell, I saw man who was valued by his loved ones, but seen as nothing more than disposable by cops and many in the wider society.

Let's not let this election season keep us from acknowledging the societal hardships that black men still face. As my friend said to me the morning the Sean Bell story broke -- "Good to know I can still get popped for walking out on my front porch." It's a sarcastic quip, one meant to draw a chuckle or a cynical smirk, but his tone of jest was simply a sheer veil over the pain, angst, and uncertainty that comes with being a man of African descent in this country.

Yes, a black man can be president. But he can still be a statistic too.

What will you see him as?


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