The historical scars I have aren’t visible. They aren’t visible because the scars I have weren’t created by immediate damage that occurred since my time on this Earth. These are invisible wounds that I have unwillingly inherited.
These historical scars are embedded within the psychological structure and makeup of me as a Black man in America, scars that have been involuntarily passed along with a level of distrust, disbelief and false hope in the system of equality and freedom for all. One must note that scars are primarily formed when the deep, thick layer of one’s skin is damaged.
The depth and damage of the scars I have as a Black man are not merely skin deep, but penetrate in ways that are generational and linked to the Black men who have come before me and will come after.
No two scars are alike; they seemingly replace what was there but never can re-create or replicate. As a Black man, I am uniquely created and defined, one of one, but frequently labeled one of many. You see, I am a Black man born in Germany (Army base), grew up in Colorado, Kentucky, Texas and my family home of Alabama. I am not one of many, but one of one.
The historical scars I have were formed well before me. They were enacted on slave ships, cotton fields, lynching trees, county roads, a Harlem theater and a Memphis motel. The causality of war that I daily face as a Black man has no limits and or no clear passage of safety. My memories of working twice as hard to get half of what white people have or illustrating the confidence of a mediocre white man to achieve success did not start with me, but I’m working effortlessly to end this.
As the new Black boy at school with the constant test of proving yourself through athletics rather than your intellectual astuteness, or police officers offering you a ride home as a “joy ride” for you to see what it “feels like,” the teenager faced with always driving slightly below the speed limit, never drive right on or over because you may get stopped, with the right to die at any point due to the white system of policing and power in which officers have to be the judge and juror.
As an adult, being racially profiled at gunpoint for fitting the “description” of a robbery suspect, or stopped for switching lanes with no signal and backup being called because the car didn’t seem like something I should be driving.
You see, these scars aren’t only damaging; they are the constant reminder that death at the hands of a scared white person with the mental illness of racism can be present anytime and anyplace.
As Black men, the plights we face in 2020 are historical scars, and it is up to us to eliminate the damage that is taking place in our community against our women and family structures.
Douglas Craddock, Ph.D., is the chief of staff and clinical assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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