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Posts tagged ‘African-American youth’

Too many eyes on African-American youth?

The death of Trayvon Martin has sparked parent discussions about the black male code.

Last month Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old African American high school student, was shot and killed in a middle-class Florida neighborhood by a self-appointed watch captain, Andrew Zimmerman, who claims that he shot the boy in self-defense.


The case has earned national attention from the media, celebrities, and most importantly parents of young African-American males. Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin has become the poster child for African-American males that are automatically assumed to be criminals. According to an article in the Washington Post, Parents now are establishing rules for their children, teaching them that they may be scrutinized in public based on the color of their skin. Even though people may misjudge them, parents encourage them to be on their best behavior in public and avoid situations that yield even the most remote possibility of incriminating themselves. Children can do this by choosing the clothes they wear more wisely, taking precautionary measures not to resemble gang members. Andrew Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as “up to no good” because of the black hoodie he had pulled over his head in order to shield himself from the rain. Zimmerman discovered that the young black male was not carrying an alcoholic beverage or a weapon, but rather a can of iced tea and a pack of skittles. Trips to the local grocery store may not even be safe for young African-American males anymore.


In the Article Hemmed In and Shut Out the author explains that children who visit grocery stores avoid domestic turmoil and gang violence in the area they live in. They presumably frequent stores with little money to buy inexpensive items like candy, drinks, and snacks for themselves if they are not running errands for their parents. When African American youth visit stores in wealthier neighborhoods they can protect themselves from dehumanization by dressing up to appear respectable and nonthreatening to others. For example, areas that are at an economic disadvantage experience a “social and political culture [where] black has come to be equated with poor”(339). Wherever young African-Americans go, it seems people keep a careful watch. In the case of Trayvon Martin, too close of a watch. It is unfair to think African-Americans are instinctively considered guilty until proven innocent when killers like Andrew Zimmerman are considered the opposite. It is crucial for parents to advise their children on how to present themselves in public and react to awkward situations.

The Family Hustle

The Family Hustle

This past December “music” channel VH1 premiered a new reality documentary series of rapper T.I. and his wife “Tiny” Tameka Cottle. The show followed T.I. from his release from prison to his return home to his wife and six children. Plots for most of the shows focused on parenting issues like school, dating, and the children’s dreams as well as T.I.’s new upcoming en devours. Personally I am a huge fan of T.I. and watched the show all the time, and I am not the only one. Millions of viewers tuned in every Monday to see the family and VH1 recently announced that “The Family Hustle” will return for a second season this fall. In my opinion the main reason for the return of the second season was due to the children’s en devours in the entertainment business. One of T.I.’s kids, Domani, revealed in the first season that he wanted to become a rapper. In one episode T.I. devotes time and money to make his son’s dream come true by providing support and money to shoot Domani’s first music video “Green Faces.” After reading Kelley’s article “Looking to Get Paid: How Some Black Youth Put Culture to Work” which was written in the late 90’s, is now in my opinion outdated. More than ten years later Hip-Hop/Rap has become so influential in mainstream culture that now the dream of becoming a Hip-Hop/Rap sensation is not solely limited to poorer African-American children who look towards Hip-Hop/Rap as a job and a way out. Many young privileged African-American children, like Domani, are born into wealthy households where the main issues of Hip-Hop/Rap such as poverty, crime, and drugs are not prevalent. Domani and other privileged children who decide to enter the Hip-Hop/Rap scene view it as a hobby however, they are still concerned about making money. For example Domani’s music video is almost all about making money, which is ironic because his dad already makes a pretty decent salary. I found this interesting because Kelley argues that these creative outlets are ways for “urban youth” to turn their hobbies into labor to recieve “cold hard cash” (410). While Kelley’s argument still holds true in some respect, I believe that now the opportunities for African-American youth to turn their leisure into labor for monetary benefits is not solely limited to “urban youth”.