June 5, 2020 Jordhy Ledesma

Search and Destroy: All Black Men Must Die

Living in absolute fear of the police and my neighbors as a black man

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

Some people say we’ve got a lot of malice
Some say it’s a lot of nerve
But I say we won’t quit moving until we get what we deserve
We have been ‘buked and we have been scorned
We’ve been treated bad, talked about as sure as you’re born
But just as sure as it takes two eyes to make a pair, ha
Brother we can’t quit until we get our share

– Black and Proud, by James Brown

Despite my background, I live in absolute fear of the police because of my color. This is my story.

My life is colored by a brutal collection of encounters with agents of justice and danger that have exerted equal pressure in my psychology. After years of close calls, I’ve learned my lesson: All Black Men Must Die.

Becoming a national math champion didn’t change my destiny. Graduating at the top of my class didn’t change my color. Getting into the Ivy League didn’t improve my faith. Starting a company, creating employment, donating to charities, going to church. Zilch, nada, nothing. I still wore the color of death splattered all over my skin.

No matter were I go, what I do, or who I help. No matter how much I contribute. I’m still seen as a menace, a threat, a criminal. I’m wrapped in death.

1985 — Someone pulled a gun at me. I ran and saved my life.

1991 — I saw the Rodney King lynching over 200 times.

1999 — Had to run for my life again.

2003- Singled-out and questioned by police.

2008 — I was assaulted at knife point — had to run for my life again.

2009 — An office security guard pointed at me and my friend (both black) with a ready to shoot shot gun. We were working late and he thought we were stealing.

Atlanta, 2011
The cop was pointing the gun at my head and asking me to place my hands were she could see them. She was the most aggressive woman that I’ve encountered in my life.

As I started crying she distanced but firmly keep the gun towards me. My friend explained that I was an immigrant and that I, although black, was a not familiar with the rules of engagement: All Black Men Must Die.

The officer assumed we had a gun hidden somewhere. She assumed I was a threat, she assumed I was a criminal. And because of a mere assumption based on my color, remained just one step before death.

We’re people, we like the birds and the bees
We’d rather die on our feet
Than be living on our knees

[Hook]
Say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud!
Say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud!

– Black and Proud, by James Brown

New York, 2016
Where are you going? Im headed to New Jersey, but the train won’t come until 5:30AM. Let me see your ticket, he asked. I complied, by showing my ticket and was promptly escorted out of the station along with ten other black men… Why? Because All Black Men are Homeless.

2020 — I have learned my lesson: I’m black and All Black Men Must Die.

The brutal forces of oppression have made it clear: we are black and therefore inferior. Everywhere we good we are presumed to be a threat, to have bad intentions, to be homeless and looking for shelter, to be criminals in disguise. We are the enemy, so we can’t have friends. Rich, white friends that is.

Search and Destroy: All Black Men Must Die. Be quiet, be compliant, respect the white man and, most importantly, run for your lives.

We have grown surrounded by violence because we come from poor neighborhoods. We live in fear because many whites feel threatened by our size and appearance. We are the enemy.

I just want to bring you a little bit closer to the black experience: I live in fear. Routinely cancelling plans to go out, having all my papers on me (as an immigrant), rarely use credit (yes, due to privacy fears), trying to avoid black groups as much as I can, and living constantly in the realm of trauma. Subconsciously, something tells me society is out for my blood, because All Black Men Must Die.

Don’t dress black. Don’t talk black. Don’t go to black places. Don’t listen to rap. Those things get you killed because All Black Men Must Die.

This is America, where fear and danger color me black. We have change plantations for a social minefield of microagressions and yet still feel oppressed. We don’t talk about it, but this is our personal Vietnam.Oftentimes feeling like society makes of us targets. Search and destroy: All Black Men Must Die.

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