Posted on November 30, 2020

Imagine You Are a Black Male Teen in North Minneapolis

Marcus Hunter II, Star Tribune, October 12, 2020

Imagine being looked down upon by your society as the aggressor in every situation.

Imagine not being able to step outside of your home without feeling as if you have a target on your back, fearing that you will be shot where you stand.

Imagine that every time you walk down the street in a city you call home, you are constantly and anxiously looking over your shoulder, wondering if the next couple steps you take will be your last.

I am a 17-year-old, African American man with ambition and a determination to be heard and to stand up for his Black brothers and sisters collectively. This is our reality every day in the United States of America.


Going to school as an African American male is a very different experience in today’s society. I come from a family in which the highest academic achievement is a high school diploma. So there was not much discussion of an educational future.

Growing up, I’ve used academic achievement and accolades, working toward success — “making it out” and using school as an outlet to escape the struggle and adversity I face every day. We are faced with the reality of our Blackness and what comes with it on many occasions.

I am grateful for the rare opportunity to attend a private high school. But, in that context, I feel very different from my peers, especially coming from the experience of poverty throughout my childhood. {snip}

I face the constant reminder that I am not good enough to live a life in America. To be Black is emotionally and mentally draining on levels that are unexplainable. We are in a so-called “free society,” where I have never truly experienced freedom. I do not feel free. I do not know what freedom is. I am afraid of the world I live in, afraid of what will happen to me tomorrow. {snip}

It angers me that I have younger cousins who have to experience constant gunshots in my North Side neighborhood. It angers me that they will have to go through the same process of experiencing the weight of their Blackness.