Editorial: What do we expect from black boys, rich kids? | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: What do we expect from black boys, rich kids?

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Thomas Potter, 14, of East Pittsburgh, and friend of Antwon Rose, breaks down in tears as the second night of protests get underway on June 20, 2018.
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Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, charged with homicide in the shooting death of Antwon Rose II, walks to the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Former East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld’s trial starts Tuesday.

Barring a plea or other last-minute changes, a jury will decide if he is guilty of criminal homicide in the June 19th death of Antwon Rose II.

Rose’s story is one in a long line of high-profile shootings of black men by police officers.

Except for one thing. Rose wasn’t a black man.

Rose was 17 years old. Rose may have stood eye to eye with men. He may have worn men’s shoes and worn men’s sized clothes. He may not have played with Legos or Matchbox cars anymore, but Rose was not a man. Legally, he was a boy.

Rose isn’t the only example. When Tamir Rice was shot in Cleveland in 2014, he was 12. He was also 5 foot 7 inches tall. Police said they believed he was older. That is a recurrent theme.

While Pittsburgh’s eyes are focused on the courthouse, the rest of the world is paying attention to newer stories, like the college admissions scandal in which dozens of very wealthy parents — CEO’s and celebrities — paid thousands of dollars to cheat on tests and hundreds of thousands to bribe their children’s way into exclusive colleges.

Olivia Jade Giannulli is the daughter of actress Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli. She is 19. Two years older than Rose was when he died. Yet when the scandal is discussed, no one ever calls her a woman. She’s a girl, or a kid.

What is the difference? Is it that Giannulli is white? Female? Rich? Why do we expect more maturity of the young black minor from the city than an older white minor whose parents are worth $100 million?

Legally, this shouldn’t be a question. We decided a long time ago that 18 is the age of responsibility. We didn’t set different standards by sex or skin color or bank balance.

If raising kids is supposed to take a village, the village needs to get its collective act together because every day our kids are getting mixed messages about their place in the world and how they are supposed to get there.

We have to let our kids be kids while they can. We have to let our young adults grow up when it’s time. We have to stop having a sliding scale of responsibility and expectations that sees us burying children too young and sending “kids” into the world instead of adults because we didn’t teach them how to stand on their own.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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