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Do I look like a suspect?

Shoot first. Ask questions later.

Almost a year ago, Trayvon Martin was shot dead for looking suspicious to the self- appointed neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman.

That night, Martin sported a black hoodie, which some people suggested was the main factor leading to his death. To most logical thinking human beings, that theory is complete BS, but even Zimmerman admitted that the hoodie was not the primary factor in him stalking and eventually killing Martin who was heading home from the store with nothing more than a bag of skittles and an Arizona ice tea on him.

Even though most people are afraid to admit it, race played a major role in Martin being seen as suspicious, and race continues to play a role in young black and brown skinned men being unfairly judged by their outer appearance. While no man should have to worry about being judged for embracing his culture, being judged is a reality that many of these men face on an everyday basis.

It’s important that we let the younger generation know that they are not at fault for the prejudice views of others.

That is a message that I would send to the young upcoming 17- year- old rapper, Chief Keef, who was said by hip-hop artist, Lupe Fiasco, to represent everything that is wrong with the hood—especially his music, baggy clothes and dreaded hair.

Lupe needs to understand that the ghetto existed before Chief Keef, and Keef does not represent it—Keef, as a 17- year- old, is a product of it.

My real issue with Lupe’s statement is that he sports the same type of hair do–dreads– that Keef does, and that puts him in the same category of looking just as “suspicious” as the next black man.

As a matter of fact, if Lupe did not have the recognition that he has, he would be one of the many black men who have been stopped and frisked in New York due to the Stop and Frisk Law.

Speaking of injustices–this leads me to the Stop and Frisk Law in New York that targets young African- American and Hispanic men. The law allows policemen to stop and frisk anyone they deem suspicious. To no surprise, African American and Hispanic men make up 90 percent of the people stopped, and 88 percent of those who are stopped are innocent according to NYCLU.org.

Now, I’ll move on to Hampton University, which has been enforcing a mandate since 2001 stating that students in the business program cannot sport cornrows or dreadlocks. My problem with this mandate is that it sends the message that as a young black man your hairstyle is more important in landing a job in corporate America than your job skills and talents.

It might be the truth– but that doesn’t make it right.  If young black and brown -skinned men are restricted to one type of hair style, then all men should be held to that same type of hair requirement.

Let’s make everyone in corporate America lose their individuality and wear the same hairstyle—Yeah right. There is no one way to be an educated black man, and believe it or not, they come in different complexions, wear different hairstyles and sport different clothing.

So I ask, if you saw me late at night wearing an American Eagle hoodie and sporting a low cut fade, would I look as suspicious if I were wearing a black hoodie and sporting dreads?

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