Jeremy, my heart breaks for you and your family over what you’ve endured, the same as it does for a black family who has suffered violence at the hands of white men. My heart breaks for all who suffer violence at the hands of others … as does God’s.
Victims of violent crimes experience unspeakable physical and emotional trauma from which it can take years to recover, not the least of which can be a visceral aversion response to anyone or anything that triggers a memory or association with the perpetrator.
That is not prejudice.
Prejudice is a choosing to form an opinion that’s not based on reason or actual experience. I like cats, but if my experience with Siamese cats has been that this breed of cat claw at my calves, my resulting disposition is not one of prejudice against Siamese cats. I would have a fear of Siamese cats.
What you’re describing is fear. You have reason to fear, be angry with, and want to lash out at the men who harmed your family. But those men are not representative of all young black men, urban or otherwise.
The best way to keep fear in check is to be cognizant of the fear when it begins to bubble up, through knowledge and non-violent experiences your fears will subside.
My guess is that since you took the time to write to me, a black man, about this you know that not all black men are given to violence. I don’t know the specifics of the events you mentioned, but any one of those tragedies would take a fair amount of time to recover from. You and your family are dealing with several.
Give yourself time.
It would be easy to let fear get the best of you, but it’s more than apparent that you’re not going to let that happen. I say that because you’re aware of you’re self-aware and seeking to live without giving in to fear or hate.
Give yourself time to physically and emotionally heal and recover.
Love one another.
(Lest anyone misunderstand the above, let me clarify. I’m not issuing “a pass.” Any time violence is perpetrated against an individual; fear, resentment and a host of other unpleasant emotions are a natural response. This same compassion I speak of should be extended to black families who experience rape, mugging, abuse, assault, and murder. But this is often not the case. Reading the above should give insight as to many why many blacks are suspicious of whites after centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, et cetera.