Why Are Black Men Seen as “Unarmed” Before They Are Seen as Human?

Her Expressive Mind

Tyra Hughes, Co- Editor in Chief

Following the recent death of George Floyd and the resulting protests around the nation that occurred, there’s this Instagram post going around that says, “I’m Not Black But I See You”.  But do they really see us? Because it seems like the only time that the media portrays black lives is when we are being murdered by the police. 

The media doesn’t portray when Black boys are being kids, when Black men are being kids or when Black men are being fathers.  They don’t showcase our humanity, because to them, as soon as a Black boy comes out of the womb, they become an “unarmed Black man” who can’t buy skittles (Trayvon Martin), Sell mixtapes (Alton Sterling), Drive cars (Philando Castile), Run in their neighborhood (Ahmaud Arbery), Black men who can’t breathe — without being seen as a threat to policemen.  

If you only look at the news to measure what black men can and cannot do, you will only find negative portrayal because apparently Black men are: thugs when they protest police brutality, un- American when they kneel for the National Anthem and criminals when deal the same drugs that white people sell for eccentric CBD businesses.

The media labels us as African American, unarmed, people of color, who can’t live their life without being seen as a threat, before they see black men who can. Black men who can ride bikes, write poetry, raise kids, host cookouts, identify as gay, bi, pan, trans.

 White America, especially the media, is scared to call us black men because they don’t see color, they see “humanity”. But if they’re going to pull the colorblind card and adopt a colorblind mindset, the very least they can do is treat us as human beings. It’s dangerous to have a colorblind mindset in today’s society because by choosing to ignore our blackness, they fail to understand that our skin color is what criminalizes us for being human, for doing the same things that everyone else can do without being seen as a threat. 

So when the media reports on police brutality at the hands of white police officers, I don’t want them to call it the death of another unarmed black man, because these Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbrey and George Floyd didn’t just die, they were murdered. 

Why do we have to be unarmed to pull sympathy from the media? Does being armed in a society where our blackness triggers fear and guns make our murders at the hands of police less valuable? 

Even better question: what will it take for society to see our humanity? To see police brutality not as an accident on third degree murder, but an action rooted in racism and hatred toward black men?

Obviously nonviolence is not always the answer to our injustice, because peaceful protest or not, America sees black men as thugs  either way. 

But to every Black man in America I will say this: you are so much more than what the media portrays you to be.

I want you to understand that you are not Black men can’t, but rather Black men who can. 

You are Black men who can reconstruct how the world sees our humanity, one poem, one child, one life, at a time.