It’s very important that we write and talk about the black boys who have been killed in this country as a result of racist laws, policies and attitudes. It’s very important that we remember and honor them and pledge ourselves to fight for a more perfect union for all Americans, that we do not allow those terrible, senseless deaths to have been in vain.
But when all we write about a minority community (whether it be black boys, or gay men, or refugee women) are tales of loss and woe, we run the risk of pathologizing and minimizing those lives. Trayvon Martin is, was, much more than the cultural construct we’ve been forced to make him, as are all the young black Americans who have died too soon, often for little else than being black. Black boys do not, a priori, live sorrowful lives — they live lives. They live. They do things great and good and small and petty and they laugh and cry and love their teams or their comic books or their poetry too much and don’t do enough homework and do so much homework that they get into Harvard and love their families and hate their families and they just – live. The pathology is not in their lives, but in the country in which they live those lives.
So in the wake of all the sorrow and anger surrounding the Trayvon Martin case (and all the cases that are stunningly, frighteningly similar), I wanted to post the following two items, about black and brown boys doing things great and good. One young man started his day last Thursday by helping an old lady move her couch, and wound up saving a little girl who’d been kidnapped; the other two (from what I can tell on Google and on the strength of his name, I’m guessing Gabriel Barralaga is Latino – but we’re not exactly chock-a-block with positive images of young Latino men, either) are struggling with the expectations we put on our young men and their bodies, and are facing down those expectations with words and remarkable skill. Please watch and read, and please pass on. These are boys deserve to have their stories told, too.
Temar Boggs had a feeling he’d find the 5-year-old girl who was abducted Thursday in Lancaster Township.
He was right.
Boggs, a McCaskey freshman who lives in Gable Park Woods, had been hanging out with a friend at nearby Lancaster Arms apartments and helping move a couch when a man came by asking if they’d seen a missing girl.
They hadn’t, Boggs said, so they went to watch TV.
A short time later, his friend went outside and saw lots of police officers and people from the neighborhood looking for the girl.
…Boggs and about six friends joined the search.