The Zimmerman verdict disappointed and enraged millions this weekend—but perhaps no group of people was more struck than Black mothers, who worry daily about the dangers their sons face because they are profiled without consequence. These are women that ESSENCE seeks to serve and support every day.
In response to the Not Guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case, ESSENCE is launching a powerful movement aimed at stopping the racial profiling of our sons.
We’re launching #HeIsNotASuspect, a counter-stereotyping campaign designed to challenge negative images of young African American men.
We’re inviting readers to post on Instagram and Facebook photos of themselves and a young Black man they care about—a son, brother, nephew, cousin, neighbor or grandson—with a few words explaining why he’s so much more than a stereotype, using the hashtag#HeIsNotASuspect.
For example: “This is me with my brilliant son Christopher. He’s a freshman in high school who wants to be an architect. He loves to draw and play soccer. #HeIsNotASuspect”
This kind of affirmation is a simple yet proven approach to counter the dangerous stereotypes that put our children at risk. “Discrimination reflects the cultural messages that people are getting, so we need to alter those messages at the source,” says Dr. David Williams, Ph.D., professor of public health, African American studies and sociology at Harvard University. At ESSENCE we believe we can change the message. We can move a nation steeped in racial stereotypes about Black boys to learn the truth of who our sons really are.
It’s time to celebrate our young men, not profile them. Help our campaign go viral. Our sons’ lives depend on it.