Walk Black Live

Readers Respond to ‘The Bill of Rights for Black Men’

Lenita Williamson
Columbus, Ohio

Phone Call Away

Bryonn booked: the author in the Harvard Law library
Bryonn booked: the author in the Harvard Law library

As the single parent of a man of Morehouse, I found Bryonn Bain's article disturbing. Like his mother, I have worked hard to provide my son with access to which I was not entitled. I read this account with the same rip in my heart that started the first time my son was stopped by the police—at 11 years old—for riding his new bike in his neighborhood.

The rip gets worse each time my son is stopped for absolutely no reason other than the fact of his blackness. How can I continue to tell him to walk with dignity and ignore the racism of others when it pierces our daily lives so? Although I pray that it never happens, I dread the thought that I may some day receive a phone call that my son has been hurt by the police. It seems inevitable despite the fact that he lives his life lawfully.

Sue Hawkins
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Winter of Our Discontent

Thank you for printing Bryonn Bain's intelligent, honest, and ultimately human account of being a black man in this city. His voice is an important one amid all the madness we have been living with this season: the season of picking up slain, unarmed brothers off the sidewalk.

Suheir Hammad

Heart Land

I read Bryonn Bain's entire story through, wanting very much for it to end with apologies and a move toward reconciliation and peace.

What I felt was anger, shame, and deep sadness. I want to embrace the young men and their mothers, and tell them that, while this is what happened this time, they must go forward so that their lives testify to the honor and dignity that no person can really deny them.

I happened on this story through links from a site I was viewing. I have never seen anything from this publication (The Village Voice) before, and so I felt compelled to respond. I have never done that before either. It just seemed necessary. Thank you.

Roberta Ann Gruber
Sylvania, Ohio

Black Man-tra

I am a 23-year police veteran, and this offensive article left me less convinced that such occurrences happen only to black citizens and more convinced that Bryonn Bain attributes his misfortunes to his skin tone. His pathetic and tired mantra of "I'm black so I must be a victim" is nothing more than race baiting. Mr. Bain needs to grow up! If he was falsely arrested, he should do something about it. If he has a case, sue the bastards. If he doesn't, he should do something positive with his life other than promoting the use of the word "nigger."

Bill Ollar
Yuba City, California

Black and Blue

To Bryonn Bain: I'm an African American police officer, with some comments about your "amendments." I don't condone your being treated unprofessionally. However, it seems your law education thus far has left you unaware of certain facts.

The procedure of citizens' arrest allows anyone to hold a suspect until the arrival of police. Jurisdiction has no bearing on this, so the bouncers, while being mistaken in their identification, did not overstep any boundaries.

Here's how Miranda warnings work in real life, not on TV: If an officer isn't going to question you about a crime, he doesn't have to read you your rights. Period.

Being arrested sucks; I realize that. You should realize that innocent people do get arrested. If they didn't, we wouldn't need courts and trials to determine who's guilty.

Boo-hoo. It didn't matter that you were class president and had a clean record. How do you know the actual perpetrators don't also have a clean record and attend college? Non-criminals can and do get into stupid, petty arguments that escalate.

Remember when your mom worried that you'd be killed for your jacket or sneakers by another black kid? The city is safer.

Russell Williams

Stories like this make me ashamed to be a police officer. I'm an African American male, and I'm so frustrated, I don't know what to do. When does it end? Do black men have to take up arms? What will it take to change the tide?

Derrick Tatum

Breathing While Black

Bryonn Bain's article made me cry—for my computer nerd, UC Berkeley- educated, history-buff, reads-three-newspapers a day, published-author husband, who, in spite of all of the above, is still a six-foot-one, 200-pound black man, and gets treated "as such" before he can open his mouth to reveal everything else he is. It made me cry for my 14-month-old son, who I really hope will never have to experience this kind of evil but whom I know I can't really protect from it.

April Lampkins Ross
Los Angeles, California

Canterbury Tales

Thank you for publishing this insightful article by Bryonn Bain on his horrific treatment by New York's finest. I, too, like many others, have learned to "know my place" when walking in suburbs or otherwise minding my own business. I now live in New Zealand, and it is often difficult to convince my white students, who grew up with The Cosby Show here, that there are still problems and issues to be resolved in the U.S.A.

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