Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The More Things Change....

I will admit, being in my own bubble called "life," I was late in learning of the story of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American teen, shot to death by a Jewish neighborhood watch leader named George Zimmerman in Orlando, Florida. Like most, I was horrified at hearing about another senseless death, mortified that an investigation had uncovered that the police led questioning and changed eyewitness statements, and disgusted that the authorities involved chose to focus on what a stand-up citizen with a squeaky clean record Zimmerman has been (which turned out to be a lie) yet doing nothing to reveal the squeaky clean record the victim actually had. Lauded as a good kid that still allowed his parents to kiss him publicly, another young black man is dead for, well, it seems, just being black.

Of course there are the typical details of the suspect looking suspicious, of him "being out of place" walking in a gated community (which Trayvon's dad's girlfriend lived in), and after being approached by what I'm sure Trayvon saw as an equally suspicious-looking stranger (a.k.a the neighborhood watch captain) of putting up a struggle that ended his life. Zimmerman is claiming the shooting was in self-defense. However, details are slowly revealing what we all inherently know when we hear these stories. We've seen it all before--Rodney King, Sean Bell, the Jena 6. Dare I take a long trip down memory lane to 1955's civil rights icon Emmett Till? And in 2012, here we still are. Victims of suspicion; corpses of corruption.

At times like this, I am beyond answers. I realized just how far beyond, when my first instinctive thought after reading the details of the case was to say, "Dag, I wish Trayvon wasn't wearing that hoodie." Yep, that is where I am. Desperately trying to find ANYTHING that could possibly keep our youth from being targets. In my exasperation, I've unconciously put the blame on the victim, for I've lost all hope for the perpetrators. It's no longer about freedom of (fashion) expression; it's about survival. For no matter how many Black in America specials CNN produces, regardless of the countless number of dollars Will Smith brings to the box office portraying a heroic black male, no matter how many networks Oprah may own, regardless of how many "black friends you have," take most people out of their comfort zone--or worse, put a black face in theirs--and all they see is a suspect.

Sadly, even if this case finds Trayvon vindicated, it's safe to assume that victory will be short lived--until the next hooded black kid decides to walk to the store for a bag of Skittles. The only solution to it all lies in a complete overhaul of a thought process birthed by a racist nation and, sadly, kept alive by those who continue to find comfort in stereotypes, peace in segregation, and joy in superiority. Until everyone suffering from this "mental illness" is committed to a complete shift in their thinking, the protests and marches will continue right along with these tragedies. And thus, I'll continue to wish Trayvon hadn't worn his hoodie.


  1. It is a shame that, in 2012, we still have to deal with such blatant injustice. It is incredulous that Zimmerman is residing somewhere virtually absolved of all guilt by the Sanford PD. If it were a black man and a white teen, we would not be talking about this because the case would be open and shut. White kid revered as an A student and star athlete, black man depicted as a menace to society. I hope this case blows the lid off of everything wrong with Sanford PD. Wish Johnnie Cochran were here to reel this fish in.

  2. I so agree, Nik. As the song goes, "same script, different cast." Yet, the police struggle to understand why they're not respected in the community or why they're looked at as untrustworthy. Not saying all cops are corrupt, but when you let a few bad apples wear badges and act unethically, yet not call them on the carpet for their deeds, the overall respect will never be there. This case is beyond sad; however, wish we could say we haven't seen it before.

  3. When I read this my heart dropped. Growing up this seemed all to common. So much so that it was not a shock when it happened. I even had a close family friend walking home from work at a local Bike shop that got shot in a park when the cop saw his tool bag. My point is IF trained individuals make mistakes a civilian with a known reputation for being over zealous that was told to stand down decides to forgo that instruction does this there is no way it is self defense. It is like J walking. Technically the driver can sue the J walker(but I digress). I also blame our ethnicity for being too reactionary. There were plenty of reports but no community action to remove THIS individual. Unfortunately he is going to remove himself. I just grieve over the fact it is at this young man's expense.

    1. I agree. It's no longer shocking but appalling all the same. And from what Mr. Zimmerman was overheard saying, i.e. "They're always getting away...." his actions sound very pre-meditated and personal; far from self-defense. But as we've seen many times before, even that statement will be "finessed" to mean something else when it comes times for him to be defended. Sad.