Societal The Word 3 minute read

Draylen Mason. Have You Even Heard His Name?

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If you have ever wondered why folks like me are so angry; why we feel the need to march, block traffic, wear “Black Lives Matter” shirts, and discipline our boys a bit too harshly when they do even the slightest thing that could jeopardize them….

If you have ever wondered why folks like me are so scared: why we make our kids tell us where they are going, make them call to report that they are safe, don’t believe in these “semesters abroad” or wild adventures; why we cling our hands in meetings; why our blood pressure is higher than any other groups….

If you have ever wondered why folks like me are so sad: wail at funerals; fill church pews and let tears freely roll down our faces at church; play gospel songs repeatedly; pray frequently and have Bible verses taped up in our cubicle at work….

It’s him.  Draylen Mason.  He’s why.

Draylen Mason, 17 years old, was a gifted musician, who was a member of the Austin Youth Orchestra, where he was the principal double bass player, and of the Austin Soundwaves where he was the principal bassist.

He was an honor roll student at East Austin College Prep.  His classmates have described him as versatile and talented.  Classmate Stephanie Lucio described him as “talented to the max, from dancing to playing so many instruments.”  Kyle Phillips remembered Draylen by saying, “ He was a cool guy, and he was just so fun to be around.” Mason had been accepted to the University of Texas Butler School of Music.

Draylen Mason was clearly a young man of great promise.  But he’s dead now.  He found a package on the porch of his home, innocently opened it up, and had a bomb go off in his hands. It is suspected that he or one of his family members was targeted and that the murder is part of a hate crime ring where prominent Black and Hispanic people are being targeted.

And I could barely find a news outlet that mentioned his name.  They just referred to an anonymous “17-year-old”, like he was collateral damage.  I couldn’t find a picture of him until a family friend posted one on Facebook: not on CNN, not on MSNBC, not on ABC, not anywhere.

I knew more about the 17 year old murderer who shot and killed 17 people in a Parkland, Florida High School in 30 minutes than I know about Draylen two days after his death — and he’s an innocent victim.

What if the victim had been a White, 17-year-old girl?  Let’s not pretend that the coverage wouldn’t be dramatically different.  We’d see pictures of her kindergarten graduation, her cheerleading pictures, friends would be interviewed outside of the school holding teddy bears and crying.  Facebook would be flooded with clips of her singing in her high school musical and statements of outrage and about how things must change.

What if instead of the bomb being sent from a suspected White Nationalist or White Nationalist group, it was sent from an Islamic group?  The President most certainly would release a statement; the news channels would be repeating the same information repeatedly; each trying to look for anything to out-scoop the other.

But—a Black 17-year-old, somebody’s son, somebody’s grandson, a teammate, a classmate, a friend — is dead.  He was murdered in a brutal and terroristic way.  And it seems as if it doesn’t matter.

My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more

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