Earlier this year, a man was asked by his pregnant wife whether he hoped for a boy or a girl. He said this: "I feel more confident in my ability to keep a girl safe. Black boys get shot." That man was Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry, and his logic has since been proven wrong with several deaths of women throughout his hometown of New Orleans. 

It's not that my words were false: Black boys do get shot. But so do others who dare to be in their orbit.

My words in April were prompted in part by the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., Feb. 26. I was making the point that the lives of black boys are devalued by everyone: white people, black people, law enforcement, juries and — perhaps most depressingly — by black boys themselves. To be a black man in America is to live with the knowledge that one's demise would cause the least public grief. The death of any- and everybody else prompts more tears …

But where I think the reader was most misguided was in his suggestion that success and wealth inoculate black Americans from worry, that as long as we get into the upwardly mobile lane, we don't have to worry about being killed. Marguerite Washington's murder says otherwise.

Her brother Kendall Washington said he hopes the students his sister met her in college see in her death a reason to study hard and to be careful about the company they keep. They've never met Alexander, he said, but "we always preached to her about being in the right company."


Read Jarvis DeBerry's entire piece at the Times-Picayune.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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