Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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Man, I hate talking about race (Trayvon Martin)

I hate talking about race but sometimes the conversation just can't be avoided.

You would have had to live under a rock this month to not know the Trayvon Martin story.  Now I tried to be quiet about this issue until I had all of the facts.  I wanted to KNOW that this child was innocent BEFORE shooting off at the mouth and making assumptions about things I knew nothing about.  After watching the issue for a full month, I can say this much... I AM SCARED.

Do I have a good reason to be scared?  Probably not.  But here's the thing.  I've got a big strapping dark-skinned, son who's built like a football player.  He could just as easily have been picked out as a thug in his favorite Eddie Bauer hoodie as he decided he wanted to run to the local McDonalds for a burger and walked back home through our gated community.  Should a neighborhood vigilante see his big hulking self, he wouldn't bother getting out of the car, he'd just probably shoot from there, because at 6"2 and well over 200 lbs, my baby is an imposing figure. 

I AM ALSO ANGRY.  I am angry that while my son may NEVER have to experience such an issue (considering that his father has never had to) that I had to have a talk to my son about appearance.  I had to ask him to always wear college gear when he goes off campus next year as he starts college.  I had to ask him to always try to dress professionally, even though his is still a kid. I had to tell him the proper protocol for behavior when being stopped while driving.  You know, hands on wheel, and uber polite... no sudden moves.

I AM DISSAPPOINTED.  I am disappointed that in 2012, I have to worry about my son's safety because some overzealous person my look at him and not see the mountain of handsome that I see.  They don't see a gentle giant.  They don't see a homeschooled kid with a laid back demeanor.  They don't see a protector.  They don't see a multiple scholarship recipient.  They don't see a capable Elections Official.  They wouldn't know that Fencing is his sport of choice.  They wouldn't know he'd been programing and building computers since age 11 and that he is going to college for Graphic Design. They see someone who looks "scary" or like "he does not belong".  What gets me the most is that the entire perception would change if they faced him and said "hi".  He would force a smile, and say "hi" back, and they would instantly know that his is a good kid.

I AM HEARTBROKEN.  I am heartbroken for the parents of Trayvon Martin who instead of people accepting this incident for what it is- a travesty and signal that racial relations have a long way yet to come, they instead try to smear his name and say that race relations are hopeless.  I am heartbroken for mothers of black boys everywhere who know that their child will (or has) outgrown their cute phase and so many segments of society would feel more comfortable if this boy were in jail or worse.  I am heartbroken for an America that won't take a chance to heal this rift between human beings who happen to have different skin colors.



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