Thoughts On Trayvon Martin… Mostly Incoherent

22 03 2012

Thought One:  I am saddened by the fact that when I see pictures of people protesting Trayvon’s murder, they are all black.

Thought Two:  Why do people start confusing the issue?  “Let’s talk about black on black crime.”  “What about the death rates of white teenagers versus black teenagers in American?”  STOP.  Let’s just focus.  If you want to get people involved who are not normally concerned about these issues, keep it simple.  Then build alliances.  Then move forward.  But do not give the average (white, privileged, and super busy) American a reason to say, “This is too complicated.”  Don’t dilute the issue.  People are talking about Trayvon.  There are plenty of issues to discuss and explore; our own prejudice, systematic injustice, how to keep kids safe, gun laws, what to do when the police do the wrong thing.  These are all directly related and should be focused on.

Thought Three:  What can I do in small town Missouri?  How can I best use social media to make a difference in this situation?  Does raising awareness matter?  Is there a way to do it best?

Thought Four:  I was probably much slower to come to judgement on this than many of you.  While I absolutely belief racism is a driving force in this country, I also usually give people the benefit of the doubt – and this extended to Zimmerman.  ALL media is a filter and I am cautious about the filters put on the information I receive.  Plus, I really wanted Trayvon to be doing something wrong.  I don’t think I ever would have thought he should be shot for it, but I wanted there to be another layer for a number of reasons –  the primary reason being if Trayvon is doing absolutely nothing wrong, then I am once again smacked with the reality that I have no way to protect my son.  It is a reality that I hate.

Thought Five:  As more facts emerged the story became more and more disturbing.  The part that I believe should be a rallying cry for ALL PARENTS – the phone call to his girlfriend.  Imagine YOUR CHILD on the phone with a friend saying, “I think some weird guy is following me.”    Your kid is a teenager.  He believes he is old enough to take care of himself.  He is close to home.  He has his cell phone in hand.  He is doing nothing wrong.  And yet he is scared.

You have taught him about strangers.  You have taught him how to be safe.  You have taught him that if he is confronted and can’t get away he should fight for his life.  (We all do know that you never, ever go with a stranger – even if they point a gun at you.  It is safer to fight where you are then ever let a stranger get you in a car or take you somewhere.)

Do I teach my son and daughter distinctly different rules when it comes to Stranger Danger?

Thought Six:  It is sick that I find some level of comfort in the fact that my son will likely be on the smaller side of adult males.  Up until two weeks ago I worried about this.  I hoped he would end up tall.  Statistics show tall men to be more successful.  I want Little Dude to be able to play any sport, hold any job, be looked up to metaphorically and literally.  Now, I am breathing a stupid sigh of relief… maybe as a smaller black man he won’t be seen as threatening.  Grasping for straws here, and, yes, I know, Trayvon weighed in at 140 pounds.  That is a very small man (maybe because he wasn’t yet a man – he was just an innocent kid).

Finally:  I have changed my profile picture on FB.  Originally I was going to just post a picture of a lit candle and photoshop in Trayvon’s name.  I have also seen people who have changed their own profile pic to that of Trayvon.  I decided to go a different way.  This morning I made my family pose for a hoodie picture.

It was hard to get my kids not to smile.  My kids are not normally very obedient.  But I love to take pictures.  And I will take a bazillion if I don’t think I got one I will like.  My kids know this and have picked up on their father’s attitude of “just cooperate with her or we will be taking pictures all day.”  So they try to give me their best smiles EVERY TIME.

First attempt.

So I told them to make mad faces.

In the end, I had to go with this one.

I do find it a bit ironic that my black son is wearing the “least intimidating” hoodie and that he refused to stop smiling.

So, tell me, what are you doing about the Trayvon Martin murder?

Are you bringing it up with your circle of friends?

Have you used social media in anyway to acknowledge this tragedy?  And to indicate your solidarity with his family?

Do you secretly hold a tiny bit of concern that if you bring this up on FB you will end up in weird situations with some of your ignorant friends and family?

Have you personally prayed about the situation?

Have you asked any of the prayer groups you are involved in to pray about it?  (I am really out of my comfort zone here – but I assume group intentions are discussed.)

Would you consider changing your FB picture for a few days to one of you or your children wearing a hoodie?

What should I actually be doing that could make a difference?




10 responses

22 03 2012

My son is in KINDERGARTEN and I already worry about sending him to school in a hoodie, lest he be stereotyped. I’ve signed petitions and post about this issue almost daily. Mostly I worry about what happens when my son is no longer little and cute, but big and “scary.” I’m already working on him not making angry faces in public. (Like when he wants to eat dessert at a restaurant and we say “No, time to get your coat on,” and he puts on his grumpy “I don’t want to put my coat on. I want dessert” face. It’s the beginning of teaching him not to look like an angry black man.) I cried for taking him out of his home country when we touched down in Dulles. Maybe this is why.

22 03 2012

Oh God. Karen, I am with you. We don’t have our boys here yet, but I sit now at my computer and weep that we are taking them from a country where they are accepted and alike because of their skin color to one where they will always(?) be “different” or “suspicious” because they are not white. I don’t know the answers. I will change my FB picture, though. I will blog about this later today. I will sign petitions and raise my voice and cry and wail for injustice. What I will not do? I will NOT do nothing.

22 03 2012

Okay, I wrote about it. My thoughts aren’t very coherent either, but we must speak. Silence does not solve this problem.

22 03 2012
Captain Murdock

Such an amazingly sad situation. I too wanted there to be more to the story because I wanted the ugliness of this truth to just not be true. Sounds like it is 😦

Great idea about the hoodie, though I’m not sure I own 7 hoodies, but I bet I could find 2…

22 03 2012

“Don’t dilute the issue.” Truer words, never spoken. I’m already pissed and that makes me feel rage. It’s an ugly feeling.

“….I have no way to protect my son.” What can you possibly teach your son to help him out of that situation? I don’t know. Don’t walk, don’t turn your head, don’t put your hood up, don’t carry a bag????

Regarding stranger danger, I have always thought the rules were different for girls than boys according to age (as in, if I had a daughter, an abduction scenario is something she is more likely to contend with her entire life whereas with boys, it tapers off as they bigger and stronger) but maybe that is just my weird logic. I’m the person who thinks that if we all opened the newspaper and overnight there were thousands of men raped, it would be an affront to humanity, but everybody is used to this with women.

I’ve been so angry about what happened to Trayvon. But today, I am heartsick. He was such a beautiful boy.

23 03 2012

I linked to your blog- hope you don’t mind. I thought this was a very well written post.
Thank you.

23 03 2012
Semi-Feral Mama

Thanks, Kate. I am honored.

28 03 2012
Scooping it up

My sister asked me “so, are you gonna not let Tsega wear a hoodie when he’s older?” That is the shit I deal with in my family. The kind that watches Fox News and thinks denying sweatshirts is a perfectly reasonable response and safety measure. It’s not about skin color! It’s about what the person with dark skin is *wearing*. If only those dark brown kids wouldn’t look so damn suspicious! So, no, I cower in fear of dealing with my family and tell her “I am not going to talk about this with you right now” because I know nothing I say will make a difference. I seek comfort with friends who get it. I feel weak.

29 03 2012
Michelle Williams

Living in a racially charged state, I have been continually amazed and appalled by the issues that are going unaddressed. Thank you so much for a gorgeous post.

29 03 2012
Diva Maman

Living in a racially charged state, I have been continually amazed and appalled by the issues that are going unaddressed. Thank you so much for a gorgeous post.

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