Category Archives: Race

Same Old Soup

same old soupFor a brief moment try to imagine this. You are a poor Hispanic or African-American in any of the this nation’s high-crime, impoverished, predominately minority neighborhoods; Watts, South Central, 3rd Ward, Southside, Chicago, Brooklyn, New York. I’ll let you pick your own poison.

Now on top of being a poor racial minority let’s say you’re unemployed and like to hang around your neighborhood and maybe even smoke marijuana and drink alcohol to ease the pain of a constrained existence.

One day while hanging out at the local barbershop, corner store,  nightclub etc, a guy you kinda, sorta know-one of those friends of friend’s cousin’s baby-moma type of things. But this guy approaches you, it has been a while since you last saw this friend of a friend and by all appearances it looks like he’s doing well for himself. After shooting the breeze for a few, he asks you what you into, how you getting by. Since that’s all you doing is getting by, there really isn’t much to tell him. Before long he’s flashing his bankroll and telling you what he’s got going and asking if you’re interested. This is like asking a man lost in the middle of the Sahara desert in 115 degree temperatures if he would like some water. You think?

Still, this’ the streets so you got to keep your game face on. So you pretend to think about it for a while then say what the hell. Why not, you’re broke, unemployed with little future prospects – I mean what do you have to lose? And according to your new buddy from around the way he knows a guy who has a lick (robbery) set up. Supposedly there’s this cartel stash house with 20 to 30 kilos of cocaine plus a few hundred grand inside, but this friend of a friend’s friend needs some guys to do it. He can’t do it hisself because the people inside know him.

Wooed by the prospect of quick riches and a escape from the soul-killing poverty that has destroyed and is destroying nearly every person you know, you agree to go along. The only problem is you don’t have a gun, but your new friend waves you off, that’s no problem, and says he will hook you up with one, and since you don’t have a car he’ll even pick you up.

After a brief discussion a date and time is agreed upon and when the time comes, your new buddy who is going to help you get rich picks you up and drives you to the scene of the crime.

A few moments later you and your friend setting down the block from the alleged stash house supposedly casing it out. Eventually your friend reaches in the glove box and hands you a gun while asking you if you ready? You nod, never expecting that nod to cost you the next ten to twenty years of your life.

Before you can get out of the car large red-faced aggressive men in Dupont made Kevlar body armor welding American-made machine guns rush the car and snatch you out, “ATP”, they scream, while slamming you on the ground face first, “you’re under arrest.”

The scenario I just asked you to imagine might sound like a scene out of the latest Triple Crown urban novel, but it’s not. It’s a real life sting operation currently being conducted in these United States of America to unsuspecting potential criminals with the prospect of quick riches.

In these stings, the ATF who selects the alleged criminals to target begin the operation with a paid informant (the friend of friend flashing cash). This informer, paid snitch, legal criminal, introduces the target to an ATF agent who provides the transportation, weapons, along with the who, what, and where of the robbery. Nationwide more than 1,000 people have been duped by the federal government and subsequently incarcerated in these “stash-house” operations over the previous decade.

More likely than not this injustice would’ve continued to rob young minority men of their liberty and the general public would’ve been none the wiser, had US District judge Ruben Castillo not noticed a peculiar thing about all these cases. Of the 26 “stash-house” cases filed in the Chicago Federal courts, all of the defendants were either black or Hispanic.

Which is even more troubling when you consider how these cases begin. Unlike a normal criminal case that begins when a person breaks the law, with these cases the government selects the person, proposes the crime, and provides the means of carrying out the crime.

What they were doing was so blatant that it forces even a conservative Republican judge to conclude that the government was deliberately targeting blacks and Hispanics and to call for a full investigation.

So here it is once again in our supposedly best justice system in the world, in our post-racial no need for Affirmative Action, or voting laws society. Those entrusted with the power of life and death s well as liberty are caught red-anded breaking the laws they are sworn to uphold and targeting the most vulnerable among us .

“You tell me things have changed… and I say not enough.

You tell me justice for all… and I say all who can afford it.

But you tell me a Black man is President… and I say ride through the bedrocks of the ghetto and tell me what that has meant

No Justice…No Peace to me is evident

Upset you turn away…scream why can’t I see?

Oh but I do see that our ideals are myths

Myths propagated to make me behave…

and send me passively to my grave

Perhaps some would say even make me a slave”

While operation “stash-house” as reported in the USA Today, Friday August 2, 2013 edition might surprise some people. For most blacks and Hispanics living daily up under the heavy arm of the law, this story was nothing more than a mainstream expose of of their day to day reality.

Will The Real Heroes and Role Models Please Stand Up

In the United States we tend to look at celebrities and sports figures as Heros. Even though the antics of a good portion of these individuals constantly reveal that majority of them are anything but .

For instance I am a Miami Heat fan who likes league MVP Lebron James, but I don’t consider him a hero or role model. For me he is a young athletic man who plays a game that a lot of people like extremely well and earns a large income as a result. Nothing more or less. Same thing with rappers, singers and so forth. Since when does talent, record sales, and box office reviews equals morals and character?

What got me to thinking about this subject was that awhile ago myself and few more guys were in the weight room working out when another guy begin to make a point by quoting rapper Lil Wayne. Another guy jumped in and cut him off, he was like, “Man, wait one goddamn minute, who the F— is lil Wayne that you basing your life on shit he say? What college did he graduate from, what movement did he start, how many people has he helped, or how many lives has he changed for the better?”

I listened to this dude rant and nodded my head in agreement. But that got me to thinking about what a hero or role model is and isn’t. I mean, normally we quote people who have really changed our world, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Thurgood Marshall, President Obama, Winston Churchill, Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglas, to name a few. Yet here was a young man basing a large portion of his thinking on something he heard Lil Wayne say on a rap song.

As I gave it some thought I came to the conclusion that a true hero is someone who improves the lives of a significant number of people in a measurable way, while often being unsung and derided in the process.

Think of the mostly faceless and nameless college students of CORE and SNCC who came together and helped to desegregate the South with their sit-ins and Freedom Rides. Besides a few of the leaders, I bet you can’t name even one, yet there were literally hundreds.

True heroes. Or someone like Sojourner Truth who wasn’t content to simply escape to freedom herself. She continued to put herself in harm’s way by going back to help some 300 others. Knowing all along that should she be caught, the penalty would certainly be death, but only after being raped and tortured. That’s a hero. Not someone who makes 20 million dollars for their latest action movie, lives in a mansion, has 13 luxury cars yet hires illegal immigrants to raise her kids and clean her house in a effort to save money. I mean come on people.

And while heroes heroics tend to have an effect on a large number of people, role models can be just plain everyday folks who work with what they have while living their lives with respect and dignity.

With this in mind it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a few of my heroes and role models.

Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields

Claressa grew up in Flint, Michigan in a low economic area surrounded by drugs, gangs, violence, and negative influences. Raised in a small house with several other siblings, her mother was a real heavy drinker, she said, “Growing up, I could never get my mom to stop drinking.” She was also picked on by older bigger girls in her neighborhood. According to Claressa, “I was smart, but skinny. There were always girls who would pull my hair and try to bully me for no reason. I felt like nobody could hear me or understand me, so I stayed to myself.”

Her sense of having no voice had began even before she was a teenager. At the age of 5 she was repeatedly raped by a friend of her mothers. To get away from the sexual predator whom her mother was still involved with, she had to move in with her grandmother.

All in all this brown skinned girl had had a hard life. But God. Her luck begin to change when at the age of 11 she wandered into a local boxing gym and asked to train. At first the coach laughed to himself and thought she was just joking. Not wanting to make a big fuss, he figured she would mess around for a few days, a week at the most and then be on her way. But before long he noticed her dedication and the disciplined approach to training that she exhibited. That, and the fact that she was whipping up on every boy her size and bigger in the gym. The girl had fire.

It turned out that Claressa’s inner pain had found an outlet in the form of a pair of boxing gloves. She said, “At the time I felt like I was in a real dark place; I was just real mad. And then I started boxing, it kind of brought light into my life, into that dark room. It opened a window.”

Before long Claressa was considered one of the best female boxers in her division, eventually qualifying for the 2012 Olympics where she not not only competed but won a gold medal. The first for a African-American female boxer in her entire state.

The girl from the bottom had made it to the top on the world’s biggest stage. She said, “I don’t walk around carrying a burden like, oh I was raped; oh, I was molested; oh, my mom didn’t believe me, because to me, all that is in the past and I overcame it. God let all that stuff happen to me because he saw that I was strong enough to handle it. He knew that I would be successful. His purpose was that all this would happen, and when I make it, when I win a gold medal, I’ll be able to tell my story, and they’ll be able to see that God is real.” Claressa Shields – a True Hero.

Ms Latiker

Ms. Latiker standing in front of a a memorial she built to memorize the 370 young victims of gun violence killed Chicago in 2012

Chances are you’ve never heard of Diane Latiker. Our President probably hadn’t either when Ms.Latiker typed him a letter. She wrote, ”Being a organizer from Roseland, I’m sure you understand the need that exist concerning the violence that’s taken the lives of thousands across our nation. We need your help Mr. President.”

You see Ms. Latiker is one of our unsung real heroes. In the city of Chicago, a city with a gang epidemic as well as the highest murder count in the nation, 507 in 2012 alone, she decided to do something heroic and step into the gap by starting ”Kids of the Block”, a youth mentoring and after school program for underserved poor kids on the cities’ Southside. Since she began, some 2000 kids have passed through the doors of her organization.

While Ms.Latiker and the world may never know for certain, she has undoubtedly saved many of these young people’s lives. All with no radio or TV shows or fanfare. But that’s what a real hero does, continues to fight the good fight even in the face of seemly insurmountable obstacles. All the while Screaming “No retreat, No surrender. Victory or death.”

Catherine Rohr

Catherine Rohr

Another hero I want to introduce you to is Catherine Rohr. An attractive young white lady who once earned millions of dollars as a Wall Street investment banker. A job she gave up to teach MBA style entrepreneur skills to incarcerated robbers and murders.

At the age of 25, Ms. Rohr became a born-again Christian and took a trip to several Texas prisons with a church group whom she was visting. It was during one of these trips that Ms. Rohr got the inspiration to teach business classes to inmates. According to Ms. Rohr, “these men exhibited many of the same qualities she looked for when she met with founders and investors.”

Fired up, Ms. Rohr quit her cushy investment banker job, moved to Texas and started the, “Prison Entrepreneurship” program, or PEP for short, with her own money.

In a five year time PEP had graduated 500 students, 60 which went on to start successful businesses. Even better was that compared to the national average of a 40 percent recidivism rate for PEP graduates, it was only 10 percent a significant improvement

Eventually Ms. Rohr left Texas and moved back to New York, raised 1.5 million and began a new prison entrepreneurship program called “Defy Ventures”, a program that is doing for convicted felons in New York, what PEP is still doing for men in Texas — changing lives forever.

 Quanell X

Quanell X

The last unsung hero whom I want to give credit to is local community activist Quanell X. He grew up in Southeast Houston in a predominantly black area known as Sunnyside. A recent report on America’s best and worst neighborhoods named Sunnyside as the 6th most dangerous neighborhood to live in in the entire United States. So it’s no secret the types of activities that you can find going on in Sunnyside and areas like it.

As a black male child searching for his way in the world this is where a young Quanell cut his teeth. And it wasn’t long before he was on the path of death and destruction that seemed the only avenue open to a entire generation of black youth. But after his young brother who was also in the, “game” was found murder execution style along with his girlfriend Quanell decided to change his life for the better.

Initially he found salvation in the Nation of Islam. Articulate and well spoken he quickly rose in the organization until a split caused him to go his own way. For awhile there after he was affiliated with the New Black Panther party before eventually forming his own community support activist organization.

Today Quanell X is considered the number one activist in Houston’s black community who even has his own nightly TV segment called Face-off on the local Fox News affiliate. As the first person most African Americans call when they need someone well spoken, fearless, and knowledgeable to speak truth to power he is at the pinnacle of success.

While many people dislike his confrontational in your face style, very few can doubt his effectiveness. And knowing Mr. Quanell personally, where he comes from as well what he was once about, it’s a joy and inspiration every time I look up on TV and see this former SA Fool immaculate in his tailor made suit, telling the mayor, Police Chief, FBI and whoever else that we won’t rest until justice is served.

The Young African-American Survival Guide – Go Get It for Free!

I can’t explain how good it feels to do some good from a bad situation which is what I feel this book will do.
As a result of my own struggles and troubled childhood, I have developed a strong desire to work with disadvantaged African-American youth from inner city communities, particularly those from single parent homes, to encourage them to make better life decisions.

Using the gift I’ve been given, I have written an illustrated book of some 200 pages, a workbook for Africa- American youth, entitled “The Young African American Survival Guide for ages 8-18”.
The book is built around the topics of sex, drugs, hustling, education, gangbanging, and violence.

The book is certainly needed in many African-American communities:

• 67 % of all black children are born to single mothers
• African-American women and their children make up 60 percent of all new AIDS/HIV cases in the United States
• 50 % of black female teenagers have contracted a sexually transmitted disease by age 18
• At birth a black male child has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison
• In 2002, 1,772 black youth died from gunshot wounds
• 1 out of every 21 black men will be murdered. The murder rate for black males is 10 times higher than the murder rate for white males
• 40 % of prisoners on death row are African-American
• 64 % of black students cannot read at grade level in the 4th grade, compared with 29 percent of white children

For many of us, these are only numbers, and essentially not our problem. But it’s the human beings behind these numbers that concern me and all individuals who have love and concern for their fellow human beings.
I decided to try to make a difference, even if it’s just a small one, in the life of some inner city child with my book “The Young African American Survival Guide”.

Access my book for free on Prisonsfoundations.com

Crooked Officer

“Oh, he got a problem with the police. No, I do not have a problem with the police. I have a problem with the police putting drugs on me that I did not have.”

— James Prince, founder of Rap-a-lot Records, on the chorus of 90’s rap song “Crooked Officer” by the Ghetto Boys

In Houston local activists are up in arms again after another Houston police officer has killed yet another unarmed citizen. This time it was Brian C. Claunch, a mentally challenged white man with one arm and one leg, confined to a wheelchair.

If you know anything about the Houston Police Department, or anywhere else in the country for that matter, then you already know that the police had the same old, tired, scripted, illogical, common sense defying story: “Officer felt threatened and in fear of his life as wall as the life of his partner, and as a result used deadly force to protect himself and partner. We regret the unfortunate loss of life.”

What got the “folks” pissed off is how in the hell could any able-bodied, armed, supposedly trained police officer feel threatened to the point that he was in fear of his life by mentally disabled man with one leg and arm confined to a wheelchair holding a pen.

Tragic as it was, Mr. Claunch’s death was only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. The Malcolm X Grassroots Organization (mxgm.org) released a new report that chronicled police shootings of citizens from January 1, 2012 — June 30, 2012 and found that every 36 hours a black person is murdered by the police in the United States.

According to the report, out of the 120 people killed during this period, 55 percent of them were unarmed at the time that they were killed by police.

Keep in mind that this study only covered a six month period. What’s going on? Have the police declared open season on blacks? Is killing citizens the new form of interactive target practice?

James Prince had a problem with the police planting drugs on him. I have a problem with police officer appointing themselves judge, jury and executioner and killing unarmed people and you should too.

What IS Black?

Is being black an act?

Is it a walk, or talk or, better yet, an attitude?

Maybe it’s the way you dress, or the car you drive?

Does being black equate a life of stress?

Is Clarence Thomas Black? What about Republican J.C. Watts?

What does being black mean?

Does being black meaning standing on the corner smoking marijuana?

Why or Why not?

Does it mean embracing the fictional American Dream?

A dream that was only intended for a few

Does it mean getting a so called good education?

To prepare you for a good job

Or getting the Clock and ski mask to rob?

Does being black mean dying young, or being strung out on crack?

How about doing time in jail?

Does it mean black women raising kids alone,

Or leading the country in rates of HIV?

Will someone please explain this to me

Or just answer the question…

What is Black?

 

Reprinted from “A Windowless Room” by Kenneth West, Trafford Press

Stolen Lives

One Million black men 

Not marching in D-C

Brought together by force,

legal farce

Victims of a common fate

Residents of America’s penal

institutions

Whitewashed plantations,

littered across the nation

No longer confined to the

South

Descendants of slaves

Confined to the big house

One million stolen lives

 

Reprinted from ”A Windowless Room” by Kenneth West, Trafford Press

My Birthday Wish


Hi, I am Aiyana Jones. I like playing with my brothers, going to school, jumping rope and helping my grandmother clean around the house. Like a lot of kids, I got me some BIG DREAMS for when I grow up. I want to be a doctor, lawyer or maybe the first black female President of the United States.

Too bad I won’t get the chance because on May 16, 2010 while I was asleep on my grandmother’s couch, a bad man, who was a police officer, decided it was time for me to die and shot me in the head with a 9 mm.

Some people say the police officer was showing out for the A&E Next 48 TV crew that was tagging along with the police. I don’t know. I do know that I didn’t want to die and that I miss my family and friends very, very much, especially my granny. And that bad police man who killed me is still walking around with a gun, I hope he don’t kill another little girl.

I’m too young to know what justice is, although I hear people talking a lot about it, saying things like “Justice for Aiyana Jones”. But I hear others saying there is “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, NOT IF YOU’RE BLACK AND POOR”. I don’t know, maybe it’s true. But it don’t seem right. What do you think?

Every day from my Father’s lap, I look through the clouds to see if there is such a thing as justice for a poor, black little girl shot in the head by the people who were supposed to be protecting me and my family.

Oh by the way, I would’ve been 10 this year, but if you ask me what I want for my birthday, I’ll tell you, this thing ya’ll call justice.

Lend your support to the Justice for Aiyana Jones campaign at justice4aiyana@hotmail.com

Click on http://sfbayview.com/2011/justice-for-aiyana-jones-now/ to read story originally published in VOD on JAJC aerial protest commemorating the first anniversary of cop murder of Aiyana Jones.

An Inherent Threat

Following in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, a new dialogue with a 400 year old theme has been making the rounds in the African-American community, especially in the homes of black families with sons.

Similar to the sexual primer most mothers or fathers give their daughters that basically adds up to, “keep your panties up and dress down till you’re at least 40 and out my house,” the conversation these African-Americans have been having has centered around the hot button topic of “racial profiling” and more specifically the steps black families are taking to protect black boys and men from those who so often view them as inherent threats, often for something as simple an inoffensive as wearing a hoodie.

These parents are busy instructing their sons how to deal with the police and with the inevitable sting of racial profiling when it happens to them. Not if but when.

 

A black family having “the talk” with their sons at the dinner table

As I read these articles making the rounds in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Essence, I thought about the times in my life when I had been “racially profiled” and automatically treated as a criminal guilty until proven innocent by virtue of my race and gender.

The funny thing is that two of my most memorable experiences with racial profiling outside of the criminal just-us system occurred in Wal-Mart stores. One in a store right outside of Houston in Pearland, and the other at a Wal-Mart in Louisiana.

Ten minutes from my home in Pearland, there is a 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter, directly across the street from a 24-hour Super Kmart. The fact that these stores where both 24 hours made them two of my favorite late night shopping destinations.

One night along with two friends I went to the Wal-Mart Supercenter for a little late night shopping. A few days prior to my trip I had purchased a new Nokia electric drill from a friend of mine that needed a set of drill bits. Entering the store I made a mental note not to forget the drill bits. At the time I was in the process of installing a new Hollywood type vanity in the restroom of my home, which was the reason I had purchased the drill to begin with.

After spending an hour or better in the store buying a bunch of things the likes of which I can no longer remember me and my two friends made our way to the counter with a fully loaded basket.

What I do remember was that the everyday low prices added up to a $166 dollars worth of merchandise. I further recall that the entire time I was in the store, the only store employees or sales associates in Wal-Mart that I saw were three middle age Caucasian ladies.

Now by way of disclaimer, I’ll freely admit that looking back at me and my two friends compared with these three women an alien could’ve been forgiven for surmising that we were two sets of different species from different planets.

Steeped in urban street culture and dress, me and my two buddies were decked out in the latest urban fashions, and one of my friends had at least six gold teeth with both arms covered in tattoo ink, not to mention our strong use of slang and ebonies. The flipside to our dress and demeanor was that these three white ladies working at the store on this particular night were as plain as homemade vanilla.

After paying for my items I pushed the basket full of goods to the door. As soon as we went through the door a alarm sounded. Realizing the cashier must’ve failed to remove one of the theft proof bar codes, I calmly rolled the basket back up to the counter.

The lady at the cash register apologized, looked through my bags and realized that she had failed to take the bar code off the $6 pack of drill bits which she promptly did. To error is human. No big deal right?

Thinking that was all there was to it, which it more than likely would’ve been – had it not been for our unique make up coupled with the peculiar place black males hold in this society., peculiar in that one is always forced to prove that he isn’t a bad guy, or that he belongs. Just as Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates had to prove he wasn’t a burglar and that it was his home that he was trying to enter and not someone else’s as the 911 caller suspected.

Following the alarm incident I rolled the basket to the car and got ready to leave. That was when I noticed one of the ladies come out of the store and began to gather baskets. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been strange if it hadn’t been 3 AM in the morning. While in the process of gathering baskets I saw her slip a small yellow post-it note pad out of her pocket and discreetly write down the license plate number of our vehicle.

Knowing this could only mean one thing, an accusation of theft and that we would be even more suspect if we left the store, I got out the car, approached the lady and asked her why did she write my license plate number down. Petrified she began to protest that she didn’t write it down. So I said, ”Lady, I saw you do it. Pull that yellow pad out your right pocket.”

Still she continued to deny it, “no sir, no sir” and all at once she sprinted back toward the store as if I had suddenly morphed into Freddie Kruger, Jason, the Bogie man, and Norman Bates all in one.

Not satisfied with her denials which were really a insult to my intelligence when I had just seen her taking down the license plate number, I grabbed the three bags of everyday low priced junk and went back into the store and tossed it all on the counter, “everybody black don’t steal, I don’t gotta steal a damn thing, go through all that shit!”

The three ladies huddled together, eyes wide with fear, nearly hugging each other for protection, no doubt expecting some type of violent confrontation. “Please leave, please leave sir, we’re not accusing you of stealing anything.” Which totally ignored the fact that one of them was just out in the parking lot writing down my license plate number, so obviously they were accusing me of something.

Finally I accepted the fact that trying to talk to them was about as productive as trying to reason with a bolder in Yellowstone National park, so I grabbed my bags and calmly walked out the store.

We had made it about two blocks from the store when four police cars with emergency lights on and sirens blazing passed us by at a high rate of speed on their way to apprehend the bad guys. Seeing our car they made a hard U-Turn and pulled us over.

By now I was so upset that I completely forgot what my own parents as well as hard earned experience had taught me about dealing with the police. Without thinking I hopped out the car (I was riding in the back seat) and began walking up to the police cars ranting and raving with my arms flaying wildly over my head. I don’t think that I have to tell you that this is a very good way to get yourself shot and killed by a police officer in Houston. The officers were so startled that instead of getting out they remained in their patrol cars while one of them talked over the PA system, “Sir, please calm down and return to your car, calm down and wait for us to come to you.”

I returned to the car and watched through the side windows as the seven or eight officers took defensive positions on either side of the car with their hands resting on their gun handles. Ready to add me and my friends names to the long list of young black men who have been murdered by police officers in Harris County.

Finally, one of the officers approached the window and I tried as best as I could to explain to him what was going on. To his credit he wasn’t a asshole about the whole thing, and simply said, “I’ll tell ya’ll what, lets all go back to the store and we’ll try to get this sorted out.”

So with four police cars in tow we returned to the Walmart. Back at the store me and my friends stood around the car with three or four officers while the other two or three went into the store to talk to the ladies who had begun all this mess in the first place.

After about ten minutes, the officer doing most of the talking came out of the store and said, “Everything’s okay, it seems like it was just a big misunderstanding. You guys can go ahead and leave.”

Big misunderstanding, huh? What the officers didn’t say was that three middle age white ladies saw three young black guys shopping at 3 in the morning and automatically assumed we were engaged in some type of nefarious criminal activity. lt was as if on this particular night, these ladies’ worst fear had materialized and they had their first encounter with the proverbial “bad nigger” which was in itself a reason to call the cops and huddle in fear. When you think about it, this is the same thing that George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin when he saw a young black man in a hoodie and assumed he was a burglar, another bad nigger in his good neighborhood.

My second brush with racial profiling happened at another Wal-mart in Louisiana. Late one Sunday evening after attending a seasonal crawfish festival with several friends, I was in the lead car in a five car caravan headed back to Houston when I spotted a Wal-mart right next to the highway.

Being somewhat of a green-thumb, I like to keep a well groomed and landscaped yard, something I got from my mother. At the time I needed a sprinkler for my lawn and I also needed a tape cleaner for my tape deck.

Entering the store, I went straight to the electronics section, selected a tape cleaner and paid for it. Which was only seven or eight bucks. If you’ve ever been to a Wal-mart, Target, or the like, then you know that they require you to pay for anything you purchase in the electronics section right then and there in that section. They also give you a receipt for your purchase.

After leaving the electronics section I went to the lawn and gardening area and selected a lawn sprinkler, then walked to the main registers at the front of the store to pay for it.

But before I could do so, the cashier, another white lady with a puggy red face in her late fifties, demanded that I open my other Walmart bag that was stapled with a reecipt on it. I refused, not because I had stolen anything but because I had been to enough Wal-mart to know that wasn’t standard procedure. A brief stand-off ensued. The cashier called for security.

Honestly, I didn’t care if she called Sam Walton. I knew I hadn’t stolen anything. But sometimes you can win a battle and lose the war.

And due to the fact that I was in a different state than my own and that I had about 30 people in five separate cars outside waiting on me, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and went ahead and opened my bag. But not before shaking my head at the lady and what her request implied.

However, that was the day that I realized that from the day I was born till the day I breathe my last breath in this country, I will always and forever be considered an “inherent threat.” Guilty until proven innocent. Columbia University Professor Marc Lamount, author of “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on black life in America” said concerning the psychic toll racial profiling has on black boys and men: “Seeing what happened to Trayvon was traumatic. There needs to be a conversation about what it feels like to be followed in the store, chased out of the mall, or to not be welcomed on the other side of town.”

I agree. I also believe that any parent that doesn’t have “the talk” with their sons about what they can expect to encounter in this society is doing them a severe disservice, one that can potentially have fatal consequences.