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Did My Friends Make It Home Last Night?

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My three best friends are black men. What does this say about me? Nothing really. There have times in my life when my three best friends were white men. So why do I bring this up?

I bring this up because it's still early in the morning and I haven't talked to my best friends today. Haven't received a text, a dm or a phone call. And I may not. Did they go out last night? And if they did, did they make it home okay? Did they make it home alive? I realize these are rather extreme questions I am asking. Ones that would not even cross my mind if my three best friends were white.

But...

They are not white. They are black. And every time they go out they run the risk of being misjudged or misinterpreted simply because they are black. These men are three of the kindest, caring and most amazing people that I know. One is a principal, one is a hip hop artist and one is a CEO. I am truly honored to call each one of them my friend.

But did they make it home last night?

I still don't know.

If this is something that crosses my mind then what in the Hell must cross their mind when they are simply driving home. And they realize they have a taillight out. Maybe they forgot their wallet. Or are they speeding just a little bit.

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High School graduation this past year was special for me. In this graduating class were kids that I have known and connected with since they were in the fourth grade. And in this class were three young men with whom I bonded with like I rarely have before. They all three happen to be black. The kind of young men you hope your daughter ends up with some day. I can only hope that my daughter would be so lucky.

I still don't know if my friends made it home last night.

I have an eleven year old daughter who, before I want to admit it, will be dating. Each of my friends has a daughter too. One of them has two. What if the guys they date are black? Should we/will we worry more about their safety than if they were dating a white boy?

Your damn right we will!

Why?

You watch the news. You read the papers. Young black men are being stopped, profiled and killed despite being innocent. Despite following every directive they are given. Sometimes they are by themselves when they are stopped and sometimes they are with their girlfriends or wives.

So what do we do?

Something has to change. This can't continue.

What can I do?

I don't know. I can continue write and share what I am seeing and feeling and thinking. What if more of us did? Would it change anything? I don't know that answer either. But I am going to keep writing and sharing what I am seeing and what I am thinking and what I am feeling.

I can at least do that much.

I wonder if my friends made it home last night.

Did the title of this piece grab your attention?

It was meant to.

Was it extreme? Disturbing? Over the top?

I don't think so, but I don't know.

One thing I do know is that somebody's friend somewhere did not make it home last night and it wasn't because they did anything wrong. It was because they were black.

 

 

 

 

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Jon is currently the assistant principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Cambridge, Maryland. This is his sixth year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Cub that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential. 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration. 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

  • Guest
    Jim Smith Monday, 10 October 2016

    3 AM is the time I wake in fear. If my kids were out when I went to bed I check to be sure they were in - not because I am some sort of helicopter parent but because I need to keep the demons at bay - my demons. No friend, parent, loved one, or human being for that matter should face this fear - but we do. Guns are out of control and take the lives of so many. Suicide, always a problem, is impacts so many and is exploding across some new demographics - older white men. Addiction - which crossed all the ethnic, age, economic lines you can think of - is deadly, in the old and new ways. Who does not know a family ravaged by alcohol addiction and now we face an opioid epidemic driven by painkillers handed out like candy? Almost 20,000 deaths last yearner opioids alone. In 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions handed out in this country. We should all be losing sleep over these issue - including a justice system which has imposed harsh criminal penalties on these addicts, resulting in jail time and restricting their access to jobs, often with harsher consequences that are often tied to skin color and economic means. Your title was not over the top, but is the nightly reality for so many.

  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Friday, 21 October 2016

    Thank you for reading and putting so much of yourself into your comment. I wish this wasn't reality but it unfortunately is.

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Guest Saturday, 03 December 2016