In the generation ahead of my own, the lynching of black people in America and black men in particular was a much feared act of terror. Anything from looking at whites the "wrong" way to accusations of rape would leave to a horrible murder of our people. The photographs of mutilated black men hanging from tree limbs exist in many historical collections today. In more than a few instances, the photos shows the genitals severed and then stuffed in the mouths of the victims. Fear of our blackness, hatred of our sexuality created a ghastly living hell for black men in America. All of these photos remind us of how inhuman one group of people with deep seated hatred of another race can perpetrate the most heinous crimes in humanity often without penalties of any kind.
Today, another black man is dead. He is one among a growing number of a new generation of men whose sexuality threatens the norm and triggers gross acts of violence. Just over a week ago, Michael Sandy, a 28 year old black, gay man from Brooklyn, was lured to an area by four men from his AOL instant messenger. But for Michael something went terribly wrong.
From the Daily News: "At some point, he broke free and ran onto the roadway, where he was struck by a car in the center lane, according to police. The driver of the car that struck Sandy did not stop. The assailants dragged his battered body off the highway—leaving him for dead only after one rifled through his pockets."
October 12th was Michael's 29th birthday but instead of celebrating with friends and family, Michael clung to life as his family struggled with the decision of whether to continue his life support. Eventually, they decided to let nature take its course and Michael Sandy died on October 13th. He is another victim of gay bashing, the new lynching offense in an America that must always find a new reason to hate.
There were memorials this week for Michael Sandy. Websites extolled his wonderful personality and the grief that his family must now endure. Michael was honest about himself and to those who knew him. His webpage at Friendster indicated his interest in meeting men. And because he chose to live honestly and forthrightly in a country that purports to value honesty and diversity and freedom, he now joins the ranks of victims to a cruel and mean "new lynch mob" intent on denying the right to live, love, and exist side-by-side in America.
Words of sympathy can hardly salve the wounds inflicted on his family. Nevertheless, I offer them along with a prayer that justice will be done in this instance and all of these gay bashings (new lynchings). For as long as this hatred exists for whatever reasons, America is diminished.
There has not been a great deal of press coverage in the mainstream about Michael's death and the surrounding circumstances. That is not uncommon these days as the black community and the greater society continue to try to ignore the presence of same gender loving black Americans. But it is incumbent upon you and me to give notice that these crimes "will not go quietly into the night." We must speak up, speak out, and speak boldly. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that "a time comes when silence is betrayal." We cannot betray the Michael Sandys and the Rashawn Brazells of America. America cannot claim moral leadership in the world as long as it continues to shelter those who would lynch, bash, and murder its own people who simply choose to exist in truth and freedom.
Michael Sandy is gone. But he leaves behind some precious memories for those who may have known him. On is AOL messenger, Michael says:
"a real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out."