I almost didn’t post this. It’s been sitting in my draft folder, because I got scared. I was afraid of irritating someone. I was afraid of making people uncomfortable. I was afraid of people what you might think.
Then I read This Blog and was reminded…I am part of the problem if I don’t.
August 28, 1955
Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago was murdered.
There were no eyewitnesses.
the killing, but were covered by double jeopardy laws.
February 26, 2012
Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Florida high school student, is found shot and killed, in Sanford, Fla., a community north of Orlando.
Several eyewitnesses report to police that they heard a scuffle, then a cry for help, and then a gunshot.
According to the Sanford police report, George Zimmerman*, 28, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, is found armed with a handgun, standing over Martin. He has a bloody nose and a wound in the back of his head.
Martin is unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. He has no weapons on him, only a pack of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.
March 27, 2012
I grew up in the Florida. Sometimes when I say I grew up in the south, then say Florida, I get this response. “Oh, that’s not really the South.”
Usually, I just let it go. There is no sense in a debate.
Today there is.
His name is Trayvon Martin.
On February 26 I was talking to my mom on the phone. She & my father still live in Florida.
“Did you hear about the boy who was shot by the neighborhood watch man in Sanford?”
“No.” I said. Mostly because it always seems to me that there is a shooting in the news in Florida. I have become numb to it
“The boy was black and the man was white.”
Now, I was listening.
“All that poor boy had was a bag of skittles. And they said it was self defense, but that just doesn’t sound right. If it was the other way around, they’d of already arrested the man.”
There was a sadness in her voice. I imagine it’s from being on this earth for 82 years, and seeing history continue to repeat itself.
Now, I continue to think about Trayvon Martin…..and all the other black boys and girls still living. But living a very different life than mine.
Their discrimination is invisible to most of us. We might make the mistake of believing that because the laws have changed, that in fact, all black people are treated equal.
But I’m from the south, and I know different.
My partner and I moved from Jacksonville, FL in 2002. There were many reasons, starting with a great job offer to move to Minneapolis, MN. One of the reasons was my partner was 7 months pregnant, and at the time, it was illegal for same sex couples to adopt.
That’s the visible discrimination. That’s the kind you can create a fundraiser for, and lobby congress, and maybe get a law changed.
It’s the invisible kind of discrimination that lurks in the subconscious, woven deeply into generations, that’s hard to see or hear. It’s so invisible, that it’s easy to pretend that it’s someone else’s problem…..this problem of prejudice.
Pretending only delays and prevents any movement forward.
You see, I am part of the problem. I am prejudice. I learned to say that out loud several years ago when I participated in an intensive diversity program in Memphis, TN. I had to stop saying “I don’t see color.” And admit I do.
Because we do.
There was real power in saying those words because it meant I could move forward and be a part of the solution. And, I am part of the solution. You are too. Each of us have our words and our behaviors. That’s the weapon that can help create something different for today.
And so today, I hold this thought in my heart….and will remember it when I am presented with a chance to use my words and behaviors in the places where I live. I hope you will too.
Our children need us. All of our children need us. They need us to love them and support them. They need us, the ones who are older….they need us to be wiser. Our children expect us to be wiser, no matter what.
Our children need us to be a voice, a loud voice for justice in our own neighborhoods. In our schools, and grocery stores and banks and parks, and sidewalks and bakeries, and churches, and most of all, our homes.
Our children need us to be a role model, in our homes….because, it’s where our children learn to love…or hate. They need us to be the wiser ones and it is what matters.
*I don’t know all the details of this case. I trust that the court system, with the intense focus on the case, will determine Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence. I also believe that the conversation on racism (and all the other ism’s) are front and center for us. I invite you to have the conversation, with someone. And really listen. Because in the listening, is a deeper understanding of the problem…and a solution.