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Walking While Black

And apparently the penalty is death.  I know several African-American fathers who advise their sons — don’t ever run in public.  Don’t drive your car in predominately white neighborhoods even if you went there to visit a friend.  Now, according to Geraldo you shouldn’t wear a hoodie either.  What a horrible burden we are placing on these kids.  Make one mistake, be exuberant and you can get killed.

This reminds me of women getting blamed for being raped because they were wearing a mini-skirt or shorts.

What happened in Florida is such a tragedy.  People were never required to retreat from their homes, though I’d rather retreat then get pulled into a gun fight, but this law enables you to become aggressive even if you have the chance to get away.  Madness.

My karate teacher always taught me that whenever possible run away.  Fight only when you are absolutely forced to it.  This shooter has ruined his life too because he didn’t wait for the police.

 

10 Responses to Walking While Black

  • rand says:

    The hoodie is the new yellow star. However, this isn’t new. My brother Danny was murdered in 1981 under similar circumstances. Wrong neighborhood. Since my brother was 6’5″ & a star college football player the 2 white men who confronted him said they were in fear for their life. It took 3 years for 1 of them to plea down to manslaughter for shooting my brother in the side as he tried to run. Little comfort for my sister in law & my newborn nephew who never knew his father.
    The fact that our president is a man of color does 2 things: it makes those who hate even more frightened & gunning for someone to take their hate out on. But it also makes victims of heinous crimes like this more human to the mainstream public & makes protests more about right & wrong than about “them vs. us”.
    Unfortunately to men like Rivera, George Zimmerman, Rush Limbaugh, Russell Lawrence Brewer or most recently Deryl Dedmon (http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/06/mississippi.hate.crime/index.html)it will always be open season on black men. & it will always be their fault.

  • MelindaS says:

    Oh, Rand, what a nightmare for your family. It does little, but I’m offering my condolences. I think the election of President Obama has made the racists come out of the woodwork. In the past decade it became “impolite” to be openly bigoted except in the privacy of their homes, but now this educated, handsome, brilliant man and his beautiful family have entered the White House and the haters can’t stand it. All the bile and poison is out in the open again. Slavery is the American sin, and sometimes I despair that we can ever put it behind us.

    To my mind the President is the political equivalent of Jackie Robinson. He can’t react when they cleat him, or slam into him. He has to be better than all of them. Which is why I get so irritated with liberals who are angry at President Obama for not “fighting back.” He can’t. If he shows too much anger he plays into the hands of the bigots. He becomes in their fetid imagination that scary black man.

    I’m a privileged white woman, I can barely imagine the stresses and burdens associated with being a person of color in America. I can only hear the stories second hand — an African-American actor one of the shows I worked on told me about trying to buy his mother a mother’s day gift at a jewelry story on Rodeo drive. It was one of those places where they buzz you in. They not only didn’t buzz him in they called the cops. Fortunately he wasn’t arrested, because one of the cops recognized him, but as he said to me, “what happens to an ordinary guy who doesn’t happen to be on television?”

    I thought the human genome project would start to lance this boil. My god, we’re exactly the same genetically, but it hasn’t seemed to help. Well, maybe someday we’ll begin to put aside this tribal bullshit.

  • rand says:

    Thank you so much for the sentiment. It was the most painful time of my & my families life. My father died 4 years later in ’85 from a heart attack, my mother always said it because it was broken.

    What saddens me now are the deniers. Those bigots who hide their hatred behind blaming victims like Trayvon Martin in order to pretend that racism doesn’t exist (except when they point to the “black racists” like Shirley Sherrod) or the reason they hate President Obama has nothing to do w/ his race. & the more they’re confronted w/ the facts, the more determined they are to place the blame & responsibility on any one or thing besides their own fear fueled motives.
    There are so many wonderful people in the world like you that it’s easy to think that we can live up to the ideals this country stands for. But instances like Trayvon’s & the GOP war on gays/women/minorities/freedom wakes the world to know there is much more work to be done & we must be forever diligent to make sure we don’t regress backwards.

    Your citing the instance of the actor made me laugh as I experienced a similar situation in my youth. I had just landed my 1st post college job & I wanted to thank my mom for all of her support so I went w/ my best friend to the nearest mall jewelry store to buy her something special. I saw this pair of earrings and asked the sales clerk if I could see them. He looked like he smelled something shitty & said no because I obviously couldn’t afford them. Very hurt & angry I was about to turn & leave when my best friend, who is white, grabbed my hand. It gave me the courage to ask for the manager. He came out & I explained what had happened. He said that the clerk was just trying to save me the embarrassment of not being able to pay for the earrings. I whipped out my newly minted Visa card & smiled when I said, “I’ll take them”. The look on that guys face when he took the card will be in my memory until the day I die. When the transaction was complete I handed the bag back to him & said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’d rather spend my money where they don’t discriminate”. The manager had to go through the whole refund process while my buddy & I laughed at him for being such a jerk. We then went to another jeweler in the mall who was very nice & bought my mom similar earrings.

  • MelindaS says:

    Yeah, they know they can’t just say the N word any longer. (Though that doesn’t stop some of them. Take a look at a Fox comment thread sometime. It makes you sick.) But they find other “code” words. He’s not a real American. He’s a Muslim. He’s a socialist. And you know what they really want to say is “There’s an N in the White House!” The country is becoming more diverse, and it’s scaring them to death. Scared people do ugly things.

  • Ian says:

    I’m coming to this conversation very late, but I wanted to thank you, Rand, for sharing your experiences. I can’t imagine what a horrific ordeal your brother’s death must have been– and still is– for your family. I know it doesn’t help, but I’m truly sorry.

    Also, good for you for sticking it to the jewelers. Well played!

  • rand says:

    Thank you, Dr. Tregillis. Coming from 2 of my heroes who have brought me such joy, solace & thought provocation through the refuge of amazing literature that means a great deal. Make no mistake, your kind expression does help. It signifies there are extraordinary people in the world who understand yet deplore the hatred, bigotry & injustice that still exists; it must be identified & stopped at every turn.

  • MelindaS says:

    And now there’s an attempt to destroy this kid’s reputation. He cut class in high school — gasp! He might have smoked a little weed. He was a teenager for christ’s sake. When I think about all my friends who played hooky and smoked marijuana. Again, the fact he was a normal teenager doesn’t make it okay to kill him.

    Oh, and what Ian said. That was brilliant jujitsu on the jewelers.

  • rand says:

    If that’s all I was guilty of @ Trayvon’s age my parent’s would’ve bought me a car! (FYI– In 1983 Mexican cops were so cool. Start a bar fight, they show up. 100 bucks & they let you go!)
    This is to obfuscate the fact more info is coming out re: Sanford police collusion, bias, obstruction &/or incompetence. For every report that the lead investigator found inconsistencies w/ Zimmerman’s account & recommended manslaughter charges be brought the night of the incident or 9-11 tapes of people hearing screaming & once there was a gunshot the screaming stopped; there will be an onslaught of attempts leaked by the PD demonizing Trayvon & token black people coming forward who barely know Zimmerman ( Joe Oliver admitted to Lawrence O’Donnell that he is merely “a co-worker/

  • rand says:

    You’ve probably seen this already, but the police surveillance video of the Sanford PD bringing George Zimmerman in for questioning was just released.
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/george-zimmerman-police-surveillance-16024475
    Not a scratch on him, contrary to the police report citing a broken nose, a cut on the back of the head & grass stains on his jacket to denote a struggle.
    Nope.
    Further, the police didn’t alert Trayvon’s next of kin that they had his body for 3 days yet they had his name, address, DOB & phone # from the night of the incident.
    The mother of the 13 year old audio witness told Rev. Al Sharpton today when the Investigator came to see them on 3/5 that he told her it wasn’t self defense & there was stereotyping going on.

  • MelindaS says:

    Yeah, I just saw the video on MSNBC — no blood, no bandages, and there is so much hinky with the police report. This just gets more and more sickening. I hope they now have good, competent investigators who will get to the bottom of this. But of course it does nothing to address the toxic atmosphere in the country right now. I’d like to think this tragedy will lead to something, but if the shooting of Gabby Giffords and all those people didn’t do anything to depress the love of the gun then I guess nothing will. And I saw this as a gun owner. But I was trained in combat pistol, and it seems to me if we license barbers for christ sake there ought to be more training if you’re going to own a gun.

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