To all concerned parties (but especially trigger happy folks):
My little brother is 6’2 and is built like a linebacker, but he really is a Yale-educated opera singer who knows how to ballroom dance.
And my youngest brother is tall for his age–5’10–but he can’t hurt you either. He’s a talented trumpet player who can’t wait to get baptized.
Please don’t kill them. When they reach into their back pockets, I can reassure you that they are reaching for gum, keys, or wallets which are not yet fat. When they are out late at night, they really are just having innocent fun with their friends. When they walk on the sidewalks, talking loudly, they are energetically sharing their ideas about school and love and life and Christ. They and all of the black men I know strive for peace.
You’d be surprised to know that my youngest brother broke up a burgeoning fight at school.
“No beef, no beef,” he said afterwards, with a crooked smile. “Just chicken.”
The men you think are thugs, with their pants hanging too low, or too tight, and with their hats cocked insouciantly to the side are too busy protecting and providing for themselves and their families to cause trouble for you. They want to have a good plate of food, a good drink, to spend time with their partner, to make enough money to enjoy their lives.
But even if they were uneducated, destitute, hustling to eat–they would still deserve not to be choked to death, or shot in the back. Even if they committed heinous crimes, they would still deserve their right to due process.
If you gun down my brothers, you would deny the world of brilliance. They are bright, shining stars with big voices and important things to say. If you gun down my brothers, you would cripple a powerful family. If you gun down my brothers, the sky would fall down and your houses would come apart and curses would fall upon your head.
We’re all in New York, here to share the gospel, to share what we learned, to contribute to our communities.
Don’t shoot us in the back.