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letters | acquittal of zimmerman stirs reaction

Young black males stuck between worlds of Obama, Trayvon Martin

Abdul Kebbeh, 6, was among hundreds who gathered in downtown Seattle Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Joshua Trujillo/Associated Press

Abdul Kebbeh, 6, was among hundreds who gathered in downtown Seattle Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

What do you tell a young black male who is stuck between the worlds of President Barack Obama and the late Trayvon Martin?

I am the proud godfather of a 12-year-old black male. I want to help guide my godson through his journey to adulthood. But I’ve struggled to find the words to aid and comfort him as navigates the perilous seas that lie ahead.

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I have two nuggets of wisdom for him. First, I want to urge him to dream big and reach for the stars. Second, and unfortunately, I want to prepare him for the very real possibility that he will not live long enough to make the transition to manhood because someone will see him not as a future president but as a threatening thug.

To me the outcome of the George Zimmerman case was irrelevant because these kinds of killings occur all the time. Any responsible parent who does not alert their black male child of this looming threat is guilty of gross negligence. Some of us hoped that, with Obama’s election, it might be time to retire the ritual of “the talk.” We were wrong.

I’m obliged to tell my godson about people who will cross the street as he approaches them at night. We will also have to chat about store clerks and security guards who will eyeball him when he enters an establishment to make a purchase. Finally we will have to talk about not continuing to walk away from a police officer when he hears, “Hey you.” He cannot assume that “you” means anyone other than him.

Robert V. Ward Jr.

Milton

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