Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy has an excellent column today about a young man named Tyrone Harrison.
Tyrone is nineteen years old and is spending his summer as a mosquito control technician for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Like Courtland states in his column you just don’t hear about young black men like Tyrone. The media loves to talk about young black men in trouble. They ignore the young black men who are going about their business, going to school and staying out of trouble.
By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tyrone Harrison works a summer job as a mosquito control technician for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. For eight hours a day, he searches out stagnant water in woods and along roadsides where mosquitoes are likely to breed, notes the locations and eradicates the pests.
“I had applied for a job at a supermarket and was scheduled for an interview when I saw an ad for a larvae sighter,” said Harrison, 19, who studies computer engineering at Prince George’s Community College. “I thought, ‘This is different.’ ”
What’s really different, though, is not the job; it’s Harrison. You don’t hear much about guys like him: normal, everyday young black men, quietly going about the business of growing up and becoming productive members of society.
Even I was taken aback when I saw Harrison trudging through my neighborhood, taking water samples in a long-handled ladle and sprinkling pesticide pellets from a shoulder bag. Who was this guy?
“When people see me hanging around their back yards, they do want to know what I’m doing,” Harrison said. He explains the nature of his work in scientific terms, then delights in the surprised looks on the faces of those who seemed to have stereotyped him as being up to no good.
“They suddenly become fascinated with mosquito control, and some even go into the woods to watch me work,” Harrison said.
If your view of young black men is based on images that tend to dominate the media — athletes, entertainers, politicians and, all too often, criminals — you might not even know that people like Harrison exist. Yet, he represents the vast majority of young African American men, those who work instead of hang out on corners; who are in school, not jail; who belong to civic organizations, not gangs.
Man, do you know how refreshing it was to read Courtland’s column today? I had to read it twice. This young man did not kick someone to death, beat someone to death in front of Borders, kill a police officer with a stolen truck, try to carjack an off duty Secret Service agent or go on a shooting spree at Pizzeria Uno’s killing three people. Tyrone is going to college, working and staying out of trouble.
Check out the entire column here and try not to go into shock from reading a positive story. Thank you Courtland Milloy for a wonderful column.