If you’re connected at all to any form of communicative device, you are aware of the worldwide protest going on right now due to the countless and senseless murders of
young black men (and at times young black women) at the hands of law enforcement. For years, young black men have been murdered simply due to stereotypes, racism, and fear.
You may ask yourself, why is this something that we would address through our nonprofit’s platform. The answer is simple because 95% of the participants we have supported in our ten-year life span have been African-American. Even further, I am a young black mother, with a black husband, and four black sons. And there is a real fear.
Just recently, my son was pulled over after work for speeding trying to pass the car in front of him, and I was SCARED. My first thought was, “NO, NOT NOW!” Because protest had been going on for a couple of days and I didn’t know if he was going to encounter an agitated cop. I prayed that he would remember to use the techniques I taught him about how to engage with a police officer if pulled over…to place his hands on the dashboard at all times, be polite and not argumentative, don’t reach for anything unless asked (and even then announce what he is grabbing), keep everything in one place so that he is not reaching in different places for the documents he needs, and lastly, if you are arrested don’t resist and don’t say a word. I’d hoped he would make it home alive and safe because I’ve seen videos of young black men murdered during a routine traffic stop even when compliant. And for what? Fear.
Much of why we do the work we do at H.O.P.E, Inc. is to break barriers and defy stereotypes. I didn’t want to be a statistic, and neither do our single parents. They work hard to fight the double standards of society that pre-judge their ability, professionalism, intelligence, and even their worth because of the color of their skin. We support education with hopes that they can be taken seriously and earn a liveable wage to avoid a life of poverty. This movement helped birth H.O.P.E, inc. before it was named because it is a fight that African-Americans have had to fight since we were brought to this country.
We are blessed to know that we are supported by a diverse group of people that help us break barriers every day. They see the passion of our single parents and they care, but do they care enough to stand? It is imperative that their voice is heard just as much as ours so that we can live out the dreams of civil rights icons like Martin Luther King, Jr. that fought for equality.
There is a real fear and African-Americans are tired. We’re tired of dying, and I hope if you are not African-American that you are tired of reading about it and are moved enough to protest, talk to people you know that have the wrong view of what’s happening today and support your black and brown brothers and sisters. This is humanities fight, not just ours.
Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder