… Life is white… and I am black. – Eels, Novacane for the soul.
It’s been a while since I wanted to write about prejudice and race issues, and to be honest, I’ve written and erased it in my head many times. It is such a poignant subject, and yet it shouldn’t be.
The world is currently aflame with talk, activism, dismay and more in response to the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26 in Sandford, Florida. I think it’s very sad that it took something so jarring to make us all sit up and take note of racial profiling, how stupid, how hurtful, and how very real a threat it is, not just to the black community, but to any minority group. As a matter of fact, this is applicable to prejudice of any kind, be it about race, social status, education, geography… whatever. The fact is that these things exist, have been around long before our time and, unfortunately, don’t seem to be going anywhere.
I have personally experienced racism and class prejudice, (not to a major extent, thankfully) and I know of quite a few others who are either of this mindset, or have experienced it themselves, so I am speaking from a position of strength when I say this. I believe, based on what has been said about Trayvon’s unfortunate demise, that it was HIGHLY motivated by racism. Yes, I know that we’re all human, and in many cases we have a tendency to automatically categorise others based on various things. Who we worship, how we look, speak, dress, what we eat, etc, and I readily admit that at times, I too am guilty of this and I think we all are, at some point. But I strongly believe that there is a huge difference between a fleeting thought and a mindset that prompts further action, especially when those actions come in the form of gross discrimination, or even worse, unnecessary violence.
It is so disheartening that so many of us who claim to be educated, advanced, or possessing excellent interpersonal skills making us well equipped to interact with people of all backgrounds continuously perpetuate prejudice. I just cannot fathom how a young man on his way home from a quick grocery store run where he bought (surprise-surprise, NOT bullets or a gun) but Skittles and Arizona iced tea was seen as threatening enough to the neighbourhood to be shot. Really?!?!? There have been statements from the neighbours and recorded messages of his last moments where the phone calls he made clearly show how terrified he was. When that Zimmerman jackass called 911 and told the police he was following Trayvon, he was told that it was unnecessary, and the police would be on the scene shortly to see what was afoot. He blatantly disregarded their instructions. There were several witnesses who stated that he seemed to have a fixation with black males being criminals, and all accounts that I’ve seen or heard bear some semblance of this tendency on his part. An affidavit was filed after the incident saying the investigators highly doubted his self defense claim, so why has he not been arrested? I just don’t get it. Actually, I do… because as bad it it sounds, I know this NEVER would have gone on for so long in ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ had it been a white person’s child. NEVER.
There have since been many public outcries, and the world is still waiting to see how long it will take for justice to be served. It has obviously hit a nerve, not just because of this specific situation, but because I think there is a global awareness of this problem and the need for it to be properly dealt with. Many influential persons have had their say, (I personally was touched by Sinead O’Connor’s thoughts, I’ve always loved her and her frankness) and still, nothing. Sigh.
This is not just about Trayvon Martin. This is about all of us who are, or have ever been blacklisted and prejudiced and have suffered as a result of it. When are we going to realise that it’s a white world, and we are all, for want of a better term, ‘black’ people?