The day my son was born, I accepted a responsibility. I looked into his sweet face and promised to help him find his way. I promised to guide him through his first teetering steps, and through all the missteps he would make as he grew in to manhood.
All parents take on a weighty responsibility. But as a mother to a young man of color, I had a greater struggle. I had to help my son beat the odds against all the things that stand in the way of young black men. I raised him with love and diligence and was determined to make sure that the pitfalls that swallow up so many young men of color would not take Jordan.
In the end, they did. He was a victim of the ills of a system in society that does not always support and protect our black men. For this reason I now fight for all young men of color. Because there are so many challenges facing them it is up to us who’ve gone before to navigate a kinder path for them. It is up to us to make sure they are not held back by poverty and educational inequality of any kind. It’s imperative we make sure that they have every educational advantage and opportunity to be viable citizens in our communities. It’s up to us to make sure they no longer fall by society’s wayside.
This country has a moral responsibility to provide equal opportunities for educating all its people. Sub-standard schools and blighted neighborhoods have become feeder programs to the prisons of America. Men of color represent a glaringly disproportionate percentage of men in our penal system. I believe that what they are truly being penalized for is simply being born without opportunity. Rather, let’s give them access to the endless possibilities that quality education and academic support systems like My Brothers Keeper Initiative allows them.
Give them the chance to create for themselves a life that honors the American dream. Let’s give them an opportunity. Let’s educate them. Let’s not judge them. Let’s not brush them aside but give them the chance to rise up as men and be a part of the vitality and viability of America.
Lucia McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis. She is the national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America and, Founder of Walk With Jordan Scholarship Foundation.