“If you never have to tell your kids to be aware of their surroundings, you don’t understand.. If you never have to tell your kids that the law is not on their side, you don’t understand.. Unfortunately, a lot of you don’t understand…”
The above quote is from a friend of mine on Facebook. I didn’t ask him what this was in reference to, but I can be almost certain it has to do with the outcome in the George Zimmerman trial, and the subsequent reaction. The thing is, there are a lot of people who would like to believe that racism and discrimination does not exist beyond the minds of those minorities claiming it, or the White’s who support those claims. My interpretation of what my friend is saying is this…
You might not understand why so many Black people feel so connected to this case, if you haven’t had our experiences. I could use slavery, and the hundreds of years of persecution, but I won’t. What I will say is, you might not understand our anger if you never looked in the history books or watched film, and saw people of your race being sprayed with water hoses, and hung from trees. And I’m not talking about hundreds of years ago, I’m talking about less than 50 years ago. If you looked back and saw those repeated images and instances involving people who looked just like you, you just might get it…
You might not understand if you’ve never went to pay for something at the store, and the clerk immediately thought you were going to pay with your EBT card…
You might not understand if you’ve never gone to visit your friend of a different race at her home, only to have the neighbors call the cops because you and your friend looked “suspicious” while conspicuously walking up the driveway to the front door.
You might not understand if you’ve never been followed through a store as you browsed like a normal patron would do.
You might not understand if you never had someone lock their car door because you were crossing the street, or had someone clutch their purse because you were walking in their direction along the sidewalk.
You might not understand if you’ve never been pulled over and had your car searched, for no reason….no reason meaning, you didn’t even get so much as a seat belt ticket.
You might not understand if you never had to fear pulling out a wallet, cell phone, or any item from a coat or pants pocket in the mere presence of a police officer, could get you killed
You might not understand if you never had the realization that you or your brother could just have easily been Amadou Dialo, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, or Trayvon Martin, to name a few.
The thing is, there are people who feel that the outrage at these types of incidents are overreactions. They would like you to believe that these things could happen to anybody. Well if that’s the case, why don’t these things happen to just anybody? Maybe they’d like us to believe that it only gets attention because the news likes to sensationalize these things. Well, how many of the major news outlets are owned and run by Black people? I’ll wait if you’d like time to Google it…So, if these incidents aren’t true racial issues but more of an attempt by the media to make a story (or divert your attention), isn’t that still a form of exploitation that’s dictated by the color of our skin? Isn’t that still a bad thing? Do you get it yet, or do you still not understand??
The truth is, not every bad thing that happens to a person of color is about their skin color. Thinking and acting that way is dangerous and irresponsible. I truly believe that there are good people of all colors and backgrounds that want everyone to be treated equally. Just like I think there are bad people of all colors and backgrounds out there who would put a gun to the back of your head without regard for your color. Sometimes, humans just suck. But it’s also dangerous to believe that violent racism doesn’t exist. The longer we try to pretend that it’s a figment of a small groups imagination, the longer we will see these things happening.
For those of you who do not agree, that’s okay. If you feel strongly that race is a non-issue, then there’s no talking to you. I won’t even say if you are right or wrong. What I will ask is that you not judge the reaction of others. In a case like Trayon Martin, either be outraged that a 17 year old was killed, or be indifferent…just don’t be an asshole. Especially if you have kids…because if you do, I’m sure the thought of losing them in such a violent way, and having no one held accountable (in essence being told your child deserved to die), I’d imagine is an unbearable pain. The fact that part of a nation is expressing their pain along with you may be justified/comforting. So unless you’ve experienced this kind of loss, you might not understand.
The loss of any young life is tragic!