aNewDomain — Hello. I’m Ant Pruitt, senior editor here at aNewDomain. I’m a content creator, a photography enthusiast, a weight lifter and a family man. I enjoy watching football, playing poker and drinking $100 bottles of Scotch.
Oh, wait, I forgot something. I’m a black man. A large black man. Most recently, I’m an angry black man. That wasn’t always the case.
The word angry doesn’t even do justice to the full myriad of emotions I’ve been experiencing in light of the recent killing of yet another defenseless black man, this time by a police officer in my home state of South Carolina. What’s next? Who’s next to be gunned down by the legion of individuals we’ve all been taught to trust in protecting our lives and enforcing the local laws?
Am I next to be shot? Are my young sons next? I decided then I had to have a talk with my sons and show them the video that betrays the truth about what’s going on in the cities we live in.
So I gathered my three sons and I spoke to them about this reprehensible act imposed upon Walter Scott, his family and all men of color in the United States. With a heavy heart, I showed my children the graphic video of Mr. Scott being shot — in the back eight times — and killed by the police officer, Michael Slager. Showing my children that video was unbelievably difficult.
The reaction made it even more so.
“What did he do?” one of my youngsters asked in a soft and caring voice.
I explained what happened to the best of my fatherly abilities. My three boys knew this was serious. Yes, they play video games such as Call of Duty, where the objective includes shooting other human beings. But my kids have been schooled on understanding the true power behind firearms. I like to think they know the great responsibility that comes with firearms. We take family visits to the local gun range for fun and for proper education on the use of firearms.
I told my children I wanted to talk about the video of Mr. Scott and explain what happened as well as discuss the speculation associated with it. It wasn’t a fun conversation. The fact of the matter is that a police officer, whose job I’ve told them is to serve and protect, shot and killed a defenseless black man. It isn’t just theory or hearsay or a matter to debate in public opinion.
On any given day I, too, am a defenseless black man. They are defenseless black youths, soon to be young men.
We are subject to being shot and killed. At whim. By the people hired to protect and serve us.
Being young, black and at all “suspicious looking” seems to be the perfect equation for death by law enforcement these days. My kids and all black men need to understand that we cannot give law enforcement a reason to even think about pulling the gun out.
That was the substance of my difficult talk with them today: that we could be judged as suspicious and probably will be judged so, in many circumstances, the minute we leave the safety of our homes.
And I am discussing this as a concerned black man, not a racist black man. You will never hear of me talk about being “screwed over by the white man” because that’s not true in my life. I’ve gotten where I am in life due to hard work, perseverance and sometimes assistance from some white person that gave me an opportunity I was able to run with. So don’t assume that my anger is pointed towards all whites. Right now, it’s pointed at anyone in law enforcement who finds it perfectly fine to shoot a defenseless black man.
Speaking from a black man’s point of view, our teen community enjoys hanging out together socially. A lot of times, this is segregated by race. Blacks chilling at the basketball court. Or hanging at the mall flirting with girls. All typical behavior. Then there’s fighting with one another over ridiculous reasons such as someone had on the same shirt. Or there’s fighting over a foul call in a game of pickup basketball.
These cultural norms of behavior are now used against us.
We must as a community of human beings find a way to fix that. We must not allow ourselves to be targeted. Parents and elders need to step up. Not look the other way and let time solve such age-old American problems.
We need to work on these matters and, like it or not, adjust a million other little things. Little things such as cars and the way we walk and talk when we’re out. For safety’s sake, we must change ourselves.
People always ask me about my car. I have a black Chrysler 300. I absolutely love how that car looks and drives. Plus it’s big enough for me and, even better, I can afford it.
But I’ve had black and white people ask me when will I buy some different chrome wheels. Funny, it’s almost like that’s expected for me to do because I’m black. I’ve politely replied, “I will not be making modifications to my car. If anything, I’ll get some legitimate tinting to keep the inside cooler. I will not buy new rims or a sound system because I’m already a target.”
Yes. I’m a target. I’m a tall, muscular black man who wears nice clothes and drives a nice car. Unfortunately, in my hood, that already makes me look like a drug dealer. So why draw even more negative attention to myself with a pimped-out vehicle? I’ll continue my modest-looking style and record any traffic stops I’m a part of.
This is one of the things my kids have to understand going forward as black men, in addition to the old parental direction to not do any stupid stuff. They need to learn to be mindful of their surroundings and the people we’re with. My young sons are targets. So am I. This isn’t a movie or video game. Like it or not, they need to understand that they’re targets. And so is their dad.
What If Walter Scott Weren’t Black?
I wonder, sometimes, about what it would be like if the situation were reversed. If Walter Scott had been a white man driving that Mercedes with a busted tail light, would he have been pulled over? I will assume so. But would he have been shot in the back — and killed — with a taser planted on him by the cop who shot him?
What does your answer say about you — about us all?
Comedian Dave Chappelle used to joke about police officers sprinkling crack on black men they shot or arrested. I thought it was a hilarious joke, but Slager really did plant his taser near the dead body, as the video shows. Would that have happened if Mr. Scott were white?
This is an unbelievable, mind-boggling event, and more so because it is captured in video in a way that lets no one tell themselves lies about what really happened.
My heart hurts just thinking about it. The video showing a local cop shooting Walter Scott is something I’ll never forget. I pray that my children are safe from such ill will. I pray this won’t happen to anyone, no matter what color they happen to be.
The fact is Mr. Scott was shot and killed while running away. This shouldn’t have happened to a black man, white man or a green man. It’s reprehensible and the law needs to hold Slager responsible to the highest degree.
I don’t regret telling my children about the Walter Scott incident, how a local police officer shot and killed him in cold blood. Regardless of our color, we as parents have a responsility to teach our kids about the rights and wrongs of life. Teach them that we have to be mindful of our surroundings and spread love for our fellow man. My thoughts and prayers are for my family, those families affected, my community and all of you, too.
Especially my thoughts and prayers are for my three young boys — the boys I call #hardheadz. I’ll do everything I can to make sure they are safe from harm each and every day, safe from law enforcement officials who put so little value on the lives of human beings and the responsibilities our city entrusted them with. Everyone in our city, our state and our whole nation deserves so much better.
But today, suffice it to say, I’m just the messenger. And a really angry black man.
For aNewDomain, I’m Ant Pruitt.