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Every time I turn on the TV, it seems that yet another African-American male has been beaten, or worse killed, by a police officer.   From Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to the latest victim, Michael Laney, police officers (and volunteer security as it were) are using deadly force and, more importantly, getting away with it.

Afterwards, we are bombarded with negative stories of the victim’s home life! His academic prowess or the lack thereof is discussed. His fatherless home, substandard and often impoverished lifestyle and probable penchant for violence is noted by someone with letters following his/her name. Images of the victim on social media at happier times are used, or rather misused, as possible proof of gang affiliation. Any drug usage, such as marijuana (a drug now legalized in at least three states), puts the proverbial icing on the cake.

The seemingly inevitable conclusion has been reached: He was expendable. Chances are they would not have lived long enough to make any real contribution to society, nor actually done so even if they had. The odds were against them. Better to eradicate them now than to allow them to languish indefinitely in already overcrowded prisons to wit they were undoubtedly headed.   Good riddance. No one will miss them other than their immediate family and/or friends, right? Case closed!!

But the image, the thought pattern remains in the public mind: he had it coming. If he was respectable and well-mannered and clean cut, it wouldn’t have happened. And then both sides of the equation lull themselves into the thought that there is no racial problem and that something else must have been in play.

However, over the past weekend, the latest beating of Martese Johnson, a black honor student at the University of Virginia (UVA), has changed all of that. He wasn’t a thug (perceived or otherwise). He had no knowledge of gang life or hustling. In his own mind, he was one of the respectable crowd, not like those wild heathens on the news. After all, he went the right school with the right people. Even HE thought that would have made a difference. This is probably why he kept calling out to the police, knee in his back all the while, that he attended UVA. Alas, to no avail. And I am thrilled for it. You see, young, African American men like him assumed that as long as they went to the best schools with the best people (read as white or at least non black in both cases), that they were immune to racism and racial violence. It took the plight of someone like him to reveal that as a lie.

Here’s the new message to African American males: No matter who you are and what you have accomplished through academia or via good, sound business practices, it is still open season on you! There is no escaping it. You are still being targeted at an alarming rate! Tread lightly!!

Now, I know that some people are going to remind us all that he may have been committing a misdemeanor at the time of the arrest (which is a capital offense for black males), so let’s address that. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Mr. Johnson did produce a fake ID in an attempt to gain entry into a pub. Is he the first student, black, white or other, to do so? Was he even the first one to do it that evening? Was everyone treated with such aggression? Did they all deserve that? No? Ok, then. Let’s move on to the next part: he was cited for being belligerent. I don’t know about you but something about being jumped from behind and landing on the concrete, face first, would make me feel just a tad. . . . belligerent! Call me crazy, but I just think I would be a lot happier and easier to deal with if my face was not smashed against unforgiving sidewalk. Can anybody hear me??

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