Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Opinion

Maxwell: Have this talk with your sons

We are commiserating after wannabe cop George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

For many of us, our commiseration has meant having the "talk" with our sons. Also called the "black male code," the "talk" is the lecture about appropriate behavior and dress in public spaces, especially in the presence of police officers. In much of America, the conventional wisdom is that young black males are a threat, and we hope that in most situations, appropriateness and humility will give us a small measure of protection.

While we need to have this "talk" with our sons, there is another talk we need to have. I'm naming it the victim talk.

Victimhood, the concept of being oppressed and greatly limited, runs through most of our discussions about our place in America. And we are victims, as defined by Webster's New World College Dictionary: "someone or something killed, destroyed, injured, or otherwise harmed by, or suffering from some act, condition, or circumstance."

Actually, our basic problem is not being the victim. It is allowing victimhood to become our way of life and circumscribing our most precious possession: a wholesome self-concept.

Listen, I am among millions of blacks who readily acknowledge being a victim of America's enduring racism. But even as we acknowledge being a victim, we refuse to live as the victim.

We have been denied jobs because we are black. We have been objects of redlining and have been rejected for bank loans and auto insurance. We have been refused admission to prestigious colleges and universities. We have received rude service in businesses. We have had security guards follow us in stores.

We have suffered all the humiliations heaped upon our race. What makes us different is that we refuse to succumb to the degradation. We refuse to let it control and otherwise ruin our lives.

Teach this to your sons.

Despite the obstacles of racism, we as African-Americans still have a responsibility to provide decent shelter, a safe environment and nutritious food for our children.

We have a duty to instill in our children the love of learning and the understanding that attending school and graduating are of utmost importance.

We have an obligation to invest in social capital: We need to keep our houses and apartments clean and maintained and our yards free of trash and debris. Cleanliness and orderliness dignify life.

Have this talk with your sons.

Racism should not be used to rationalize black-on-black crime. Such crime is unjustifiable, and we should condemn it, always. It occurs in our communities — down the street, next door, in our homes. Our pulpits should resound with anti-black-on-black-crime sermons.

Research consistently shows that the absence of the two-parent family has crippled us. Yet too many of our girls continue to have babies out of wedlock with males who do not work, who are school dropouts. What kind of futures do these kids have? We need to teach our boys that they have a responsibility to help end the cycle of dependence and misery.

We are alone, on our own whether we know it or not. As such, we must become fiercely self-reliant both as individuals and as a group.

We must become independent in spite of racism. We must become college educated or learn a trade that enables us to support our families. We must become informed of important issues and trends. Read newspapers and magazines and books. Travel as often as possible. Surround ourselves with smart, ethical people. Register to vote — and vote.

Obviously, this letter is a blueprint. Add your own wisdom. But talk with your children, especially with your boys. Tell them to never let being the victim diminish them. Tell them to make being the victim a reason to be creative, to act positively for themselves and for others.

Have this talk with your sons: the victim talk.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18