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Is This America?

Photographer: Scott Roller #BlackLivesMatter, #JustPgh, African American boys, Just Pittsburgh, shooting
Is This America?

I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be African American in this country, especially one who is struggling to make ends meet. Or simply to raise a child.

In my walk to work this morning, I could not look my neighbors in the eye. No exchange of the usual smiles and nods. My head stayed bowed, ashamed of what is being done in my name, the latest shocking and heartbreaking incident being the shooting in the back of unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh Tuesday night.

I have a soon-to-be 14-year-old son, and I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but I know it would finish me if something happened to him. But how many African American families cope with the forever living fear that death may be around the next corner for one of their children, living as many do in neighborhoods that are far from flourishing? Vulnerable neighborhoods created by some archaic historic housing policies where guns, gangs and poverty are the norm.

That Antwon Rose may have done something wrong, or broken the law, is not the point. He was shot three times in the back running away from a car, for goodness sake. Teenage impulsiveness to be sure, but no threat to arresting police officers attending the scene, according to news reports. And whatever happened to the notion of ‘innocence until proven guilty.’

Would Antwon Rose have been so brutally gunned down had he been white? I think not.

I just want to say that this young man was not killed in my name. Just like detained immigrants on the border are not suffering in my name, just like people who don’t look like me are subjected to prejudice, bigotry and intolerance at the hands of those who are not acting in my name.

Except they are. 

My heart goes out to the family of Antwon Rose.

And my head remains bowed in shame.

Written by:

John Ellis
VP Communications