Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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Coming to terms with my reaction (Trayvon / Zimmerman)

As I have said before, I have been flabbergasted by my own reaction to the results of the Zimmerman trial.  I never expected to feel so deeply about something that I have pretty much felt relatively unattached to.  Sure, I began purchasing a different style of jacket/sweater for my son just over a year ago, but until the verdict was dropped, I felt pretty much removed from the issue.

Today, I read an article entitled racially profiled in Palm Beach. It made me say "oooooh... that's my problem."  I guess you want me to explain.

I have never felt inferior to anyone because of the color of my skin.  I may have been aware as a child that there were people who would judge me because of it, but it never bothered me.  I always told my self that I could educate and demonstrate my way out of any preconceived notion anyone could have about me.  That presumption was proven true when in college, my while classmates, and even some well meaning teachers would point out that I was "not like the others" (black people).  It was clearly meant as a compliment, and I rarely challenged anyone on that statement, I just filed it in the back of my mind that they were pretty much just ignorant about race, or haven't met nearly enough black people in their lives.

I set about educating myself, quite well, then I set about educating my children... quite well too.  I made a lot of personal sacrifices to make sure that my kids would stand head and shoulders above the crowd, be them white, or black.  I felt pretty confident that any preconceived notions anyone made about my kids would clearly be wisked away with a few words.  After all, they are clearly bright and well spoken.  Their education and brilliance would instantly shine through and they would not be lumped with the crowd... black or white.

Then the verdict was announced and I felt a stabbing pain in my stomach.  I realize now it was the clear message that besides educating my children and making sure they were smart, all of the effort really didn't matter to anyone outside of them.  In fact, when the stuff hit the fan, no one would even give them a chance to articulate their brilliance.. it would just be ON.  That made me really sad.

Case in point, a law professor was stopped in Palm Beach for riding his bike late at night... twice, by police who pretty much harassed him.  His crime. Nothing.  There had been crimes in the area, and he looked suspicious.  It didn't matter than he had about 8 years of college level study under his belt.  They just saw... him and what they felt he stood for, not what he had accomplished.

If only you could wear your achievements on your forehead...


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