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  • Writer's pictureJames B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D.

Being African American And Knocking On The Wrong Door Could Be Dangerous

I have knocked on a lot of doors over my lifetime as a child and now as an adult. My knocking has never been met with hostility.

Quite honestly, I have never given much thought to anything bad happening. My most interesting experience knocking on doors was when I was a census taker in college.

Now knocking on doors may be hazardous to your health. In plain and simple language, you may lose your life especially if you are Black like me.

How can knocking on a door possibly be so life changing? It could be, especially if you knock on the wrong door. Crime and shootings have become commonplace these days. We are filled with apprehension and fear each time we must leave our home. For example, getting out of our cars could result in a bad outcome.

Yet is our first line of defense to shoot someone? Why not just call the police?

Andrew Lester of Kansas City Missouri must have thought this was his only alternative. He allegedly shot Ralph Yarl, a teenager, on April 13th when he went to the wrong house to pick up his brothers.

There are some interesting dynamics to this case. Andrew Lester is a 84 year-old White man and Ralph Yarl is a 16 year-old African American male. Does race matter? Yes, it does. Lester will face two felony charges according to Clay County Prosecuting Attorney, Zachary Thompson. The charges are assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.

What about race? Was this a hate crime? Attorney Thompson said, “I can tell you there was a racial component to this case.”

Ben Crump who represents the family said, ”Nobody can tell us if the roles were reversed, and you had a Black man shoot a White 16 year-old for merely ringing his doorbell that he would not be arrested. This citizen went home and slept in his bed at night after shooting that young Black kid.”

The man with the gun, Andrew Lester told police that he was scared to death. Was he scared to death because someone was at his door or was, he scared to death because someone Black was at his door?

I believe we know the answer to that question. Reports say that Lester’s ex-wife and his grandson both said that he had a problem with Black people. It is not surprising that he took out his aversion to us on Ralph Yarl.

The mayor of Kansas City, Quinton Lucas said, “I think that this has everything to do with race., the defendant’s fear of Black people, Black men, Black boys. I think if the young man wasn’t

Black, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Lester is now out of jail and cannot own a weapon and cannot have any contact with the young man. Demonstrations have now begun, and the city will be on high alert.

It does raise the question as to how many White people are so terrified by African Americans that they will shoot with no questions asked or statements made. That was the case with Lester. He simply shot the teen without saying a word.

Driving while Black, walking while Black and now knocking on the wrong door while Black should be added to the list of ways we get shot, sometimes to death.

Ralph Yarl has now been released from the hospital and is now resting at his home. His family says that he is young and strong. Now in the coming weeks, Lester will stand trial for this shooting. Let’s hope the jury sees the compelling evidence and uses it accordingly.

Black boys are already at risk from birth. These intentional shootings only make it more difficult for them to lead successful lives.

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