My name is David Jordan Caldwell. I am African-American, 6’5” 280 lbs. I am a senior in college looking forward to graduate school. I was raised in an upper-middle class household, the youngest child of a meteorologist and a cartographer who had the resources to give me a private school education. I was “raised right,” as they say (whatever that means). Do you know what society (White America) sees when they see/read that description?
My name is David Jordan Caldwell. I am African-American, 6’5” 280 lbs. I am a senior in college looking forward to graduate school. I was raised in an upper-middle class household, the youngest child of a meteorologist and a cartographer who had the resources to give me a private school education. I was “raised right,” as they say (whatever that means).
I am perceived as a threat.
I have to fear for my life every time I walk down the street. Because of my genetic make up that I have no control over, I have to wonder if I’m going to be the next Mike Brown. The next Troy Davis. The next Trayvon Martin. And what have I done to deserve this? Absolutely nothing.
The fear of the black man has transformed young African-American men into targets. We aren’t given any chances, no benefit of the doubt. All it takes is for one person to perceive my presence as threatening and I could end up as the next headline. They’ll find something negative to say about me, so it looks like I had it coming. Whoever killed me will get off; praised as a hero for eliminating another black threat.
This isn’t anything new. African-American men and women have always been a target. We are taught that we will be targets. We are taught how to conduct ourselves to prevent ourselves from being targeted. We have gone above and beyond to try to blend in with White America. We have adopted their ideas of beauty, adopted their etiquette, converted to their religion, we attend their schools, and we still cannot shake their fear. And in the time it takes to pray to white Jesus, another young black man or woman has become a target.
And still, we remain peaceful. We have our candlelight protests and marches. We unite as one. We flood social media. We don’t resort to violent protests. And how does White America respond to that? They bring K-9s to our doors, flood our streets with police armed with assault weapons and riot gear. They throw tear gas at us. They try to provoke us into an aggressive response, and when one or two eventually do respond, they beat us and send to the news that we were rioting, fueling the flames of the black threat fire in the media.
This is the world we live in. This is the society we were forced to be in, the society we have tried and failed to adapt to. We traded our entire identity to blend in with White America and that still was not enough. The lives of the many black martyrs are not enough. We have nothing else to give.
If you poke a caged lion long enough, eventually that lion will bite back. If White America keeps treating us like we’re less than nothing, we’re going to retaliate like we have nothing to lose. And I fear for the day when that happens, because once those floodgates of revolution burst open, I doubt anyone will be able to contain them.