Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Black Teen America Should Focus On Now

Everyone in America knows Trayvon Martin’s name. Now that the divisive trial is over and justice has been served, perhaps the healing can begin, as they say, if Americans of all colors get to know another black teen, Temar Boggs.

Boggs is a 15-year-old in Lancaster, Pennsylvania who was helping move a couch with a friend at Lancaster Arms apartments when they learned that five-year-old Jocelyn Rojas had gone missing from the neighborhood that afternoon. Boggs didn’t know the girl or her family, but a large search party was being coordinated, and he and his friend Chris Garcia participated. “We got all of our friends to go look for her,” he said later. “I had the gut feeling that I was going to find the little girl.” Happily, his instinct was correct.

Boggs and Garcia rode their bikes around the neighborhood looking for Jocelyn. A car, suspiciously turning in and out of side streets – perhaps looking for a route to avoid police in the area – caught his eye. Boggs got close enough to it to see a little girl inside, and he and Garcia pursued it on their bikes. “If he wasn’t going to stop, I was probably going to like, jump on the car or something,” Boggs said.

The driver saw the teens following him and appeared to get nervous. “As soon as the guy started noticing that we were chasing him,” he said, “he stopped at the end of the hill and let her out, and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom.” The predator drove off, and Boggs carried Jocelyn home on foot while Garcia accompanied him with both bikes.

When they connected with the police, Jocelyn was reluctant to leave Boggs and go with them – an indication of just how safe he had made this little girl feel – but he assured her it was okay. Jocelyn’s grandmother Tracey Clay hugged and kissed Boggs in her relief and gratitude. “Thank you. You’re our hero.”

The girl’s relatives “were just saying that I was a hero, that I was a guardian angel and that it was amazing that I was there and was able to find the girl,” Boggs said. But he doesn’t see himself as a hero – which is a sure sign of a hero. “I’m just a normal person who did a thing that anybody else would do,” he said. “It was like fate, it was like meant for me and Chris to be there. If we wouldn't have left [to look for Jocelyn], who knows what would have happened to the little girl.”

Actually, Temar, you and Chris Garcia went above and beyond the call of duty in the courage and perseverance and kindness you displayed toward a stranger. You two are a credit to your often-maligned generation. And if you hadn’t gone looking for her, I can tell you what likely would have happened: little Jocelyn might not ever have been seen alive again, or at all. With what seems to be characteristic humility, Boggs suggested that the opportunity to rescue her was “a blessing” granted to him. A blessing to Jocelyn Rojas as well.

Boggs, who in his brief media appearances appears to be a bright, cleancut guy, is a school athlete who dreams of going pro one day, but if that doesn’t work out, he’d like to design clothing or sneakers, or possibly work in the culinary arts. Whatever he becomes, he is already an inspiration and hopefully a role model to others of his generation.

Temar Boggs’ mother Tamika is rightly proud of him. “You just hope you raise your child the right way,” she said. “He’s learning what I tell him, to help others.” You did a great job, Mrs. Boggs.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 7/15/13)