When I heard the news of the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin I was shocked. WTF happened? I went in search of more information only to go from shock to outrage. A kid is dead. Walking home through his family’s neighborhood?!? What happened?
image from newsone.com
image from newsone.com
All we know is what one person has to say. The one alive, facing no charges, who carried a gun and was told NOT to follow this boy.
The other day I heard ‘The Professionals’ on The Today Show talking about Trayvon and the current media attention and question came up. Is all the attention a good thing or bad thing? Is all this attention escalating the fear level?
I’m worried – what fear are you talking about?
Here’s is what scares me. An African-American mother living right down the street to me has to teach her child to look both ways when you cross the street, wear a helmet when you ride your bike, don’t talk to strangers and know that people will assume the worst of you because of your skin color? I don’t know any Caucasian moms that have that on their list of things to talk about. That’s not just wrong it’s sick.
It is time for folks to stop acting as if the burden is on African-Americans to act some way that is ‘right’ and accept that the responsibility is on each of us to not tolerate any kind of bigotry and racism.
Friends of the shooter say he is not a racist. But he made a judgement about someone based solely on their looks. What kind of decision making is that?
I don’t agree with Donny Deutch thinking that it is escalating the fear (Normally The Today Show likes to put up clips from this segment but oddly I can’t find anything when I Google except this post from ebonymompolitics.wordpress.com not affiliate with the show) but I do hear what he is saying about his kids. When talking about Trayvon with my kids there was an incredible beauty to their confusion.
Kids – But why? But what did he do?
Me – Nothing. He was walking through the neighborhood back from the convenience store wearing a hoodie.
Kids – What was wrong with his hoodie?
Me – We are concerned that African-American boys are being judged by their skin color and the way they dress.
Kids – I still don’t understand.
Me – For some people there is a false idea any African-American man is suspicious. That’s bigotry and racism.
Kids – Well, boys are meaner than girls at school. Well, girls are meaner but boys push and trip. And, it’s always the kids that think they are better than others that are the meanest. But, I still don’t understand. What did he do?
Me – He scared another man walking through a neighborhood wearing a hoodie. Just existing in that space at that time.
Kids – Well that guy had a gun so I bet Trayvon was more scared.
It’s my job to teach my my kids continue to see past skin color, hair color, tattoos, dialects and hoodies. It is also my job to lead by example but and STAND UP for others. By allowing bigoted or racists jokes, comments and judgements to continue we are a part of the problem.
Please also read this great post from Lisa Duggan, The Parent Du Jour and The Motherhood Blog, about her experience at the Million Hoodie March at Union Square.