The Death of Trayvon Martin Makes Me Ashamed

by francine Hardaway on March 22, 2012

Update: i have corrected this post now that i know Zimmerman is not white, but a self-identified Hispanic. It doesn’t change my thoughts about racial profiling. Nor does Trayvon Martin’s history of suspensions.

This is a post from the heart. All I have heard about Trayvon Martin comes from the endless stream of media coverage. And I don’t want to get into the politics of the NRA or race. But this story has really grabbed me. I marched in the 60s for civil rights. My father was a civil rights advocate. I consider civil rights an apolitical topic, as it used to be.

A decade ago, my friend Barbara had two bi-racial children in Phoenix, Arizona. Two black boys, the son of a black father and a white mother. I still remember the advice she gave them: don’t run in public. Don’t walk through a mall with your hands in your pockets. Don’t touch anything in a store unless you are actually buying it. Don’t argue with anyone you meet, even if you are right. I used to say to her, “Barbara, you’ve got to be kidding. It can’t be that bad. This is the year 2000.”

But obviously it is that bad. Folks, Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie. All the geeks who emulate him wear hoodies. I wear a hoodie. You don’t shoot a kid because he is wearing a hoodie. You only shoot him if you think he is threatening not only you, but your entire existence. George Zimmerman must have felt existentially threatened by the presence of a black boy in his neighborhood.

How could no one try to find George Zimmerman and question him? In what situation is it all right to kill another man and walk away without even apologizing? Florida is not a war zone. Hiding behind a stupid law that can easily be misinterpreted is not an excuse. He has escaped now, protected by the same police who failed to protect Trayvon Martin.

Both of Barbara’s boys are grown now, college graduates in managerial corporate positions. What if someone had shot either of them? Not only would Barbara have lost them, but the world would have lost their talents, their wives would have lost husbands and their children fathers. It still amazes me that they could not move easily through their teen years the way white kids can.

To me, this is the same thing as the racial profiling in Arizona, and the rise of neo-Nazi groups and anti-Muslim groups. America is no longer a totally white country, and neither is any other country. The ability to travel easily has made migration not only possible, but faster than ever before. Throughout history populations have migrated for better opportunity, and now almost every country — even France, the bastion of linguistic purity — is a melting pot. Not only that, but white men brought black men over here — as slaves. Who do we think we are?

We used to be proud of the melting pot. What happened to us? I, for one, am sad and ashamed.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Wes Hopper March 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

What changed? We did, Francine, many of us did. But many others didn’t. We were proud of the melting pot years ago because as whites we weren’t exposed to the dirty underside of it. Now, in 2012 we mistakenly believe that America has moved beyond that because we and most of our friends have moved, and a lot of the racism has gone underground. But not gone away. The election of Obama was both a victory for inclusiveness and a motivation for action on the part of the underground racist movement. The “stand your ground” laws are understood by the racist right to be their license to kill any minority that gets in their way, and the brutal murder of Treyvon Martin is the natural consequence of that. The Peoria policeman and his teenagers shooting up a photo of the President is another expression of this racist underground. The question is not ‘what has happened to us’, but ‘what has not happened to us?” We as a nation have not moved beyond racism, as I’m sure any of our black friends could have told us. But we’re like Fox Mulder, we want to believe.

Jimsmth69 March 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I cannot beleive that the old black and white racist arguments are still coming from the blacks.  Face the facts, when you go looking for a fight and actually start the fight, you take the chance of getting shot.  If this case was turned around where a white had beaten up a black, it would never have made the news. Racisim is still around because blacks continually bring it up when it is not relevant. Martin asked for trouble and got it.

hot stuff33 March 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Reading your comment today @d98d59be61bdb500e1bd5d4dacbf3a65:disqus 
 5:04 I have a suggestion its rush hour now. Do the country… the world a favor n go play in it. One less ignorant person to worry about. Dont know u dont want to but I see u have no problem neither to get rid of our children. hope its not my son cuz how blck ppl are being stereo typed i will make it a fact. Then claim self defense for my son

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