Mar 30, 2012

As a little Black girl growing up in the South, I knew race relations in America were not perfect but I certainly thought they were far better than they used to be.  As a Black woman who chooses to live in the South, I wish I could turn back the hands of time and be that young naive girl again.  I have traveled to small towns in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina hoping to somehow affect change.  I don't imagine that being poor and Black and living in a large city is much fun but I have seen first hand that being poor and Black and living in a small town leaves you completely voiceless.

After, I returned from a trip trying to help some poor Black folks right a wrong, one of my colleagues asked me how much I got paid to go and help in these situations.  You should have seen the look of disbelief on his face when I told him that I go for free and most of the time even pay my own expenses.  I didn't tell him but I will tell you, like most everyone else my actions are motivated by my past experiences.

One of my favorite cousins growing up was named Keith.  He was at least twelve years older than me and so we never "played" together and probably had only our blood line in common.  I was the girliest of girls and he was an All-America boy playing football and basketball.

But for whatever reason, he took a liking to me and whenever I was shipped to Mississippi for my annual summer visits, he'd be at my grandmother's house awaiting my arrival and holding 2 stalks of sugar cane for me.  And, yes, just in case you're wondering, buying me presents is the quickest way to get on my favorites list.  Anyway my last memory of Keith is him driving me to the "city" (yes, they actually called it the city)  to see the movie Ghostbusters.  It was the best day. A few months later, I was back at home and my mom got a telephone call that Keith had been shot and killed while playing basketball.  Now this was the 1980s and the town my cousin lived in didn't even have a McDonald's so good boys just didn't get shot while playing basketball.

Long story short, the police concluded that Keith had been shot "accidentally" by a woman whose house was near the recreation center where he was playing basketball.  The problem with this explanation, at least for my family, was a) she claimed to have been shooting at a stray dog when she fired the rifle but my cousin was six feet tall and was shot in the head ...what dog can jump that high?...b) although this killing happened over twenty years after the civil rights marches, the small town they lived in was still largely segregated and the recreational center was deemed white only... my cousin was in defiance of the unwritten code of the South when he went to play basketball there ....c) the woman also happened to be the mother of a seventeen year old white girl who went to high school with Keith and was rumored to have been seen hanging out with him outside of school.  In fact, my great uncle threw himself on the casket at the funeral and loudly sobbed about he had warned Keith that times hadn't changed that much and he should remember where he lived.

He was nineteen and had just finished basic training with the army, he was awaiting his assigned duty station when he was shot while playing basketball.  The Trayvon Martin case just brought all of those memories to me...The notion that he didn't belong in this neighborhood simply because he was Black... the fact that no one wants to hold anyone accountable for the death of a young man who had his entire future ahead of him...When I saw Trayvon's mother crying on television, I thought about my great aunt who never smiled the same after Keith's death.  I don't know if a parent ever knows true happiness again after they bury one of their own children.

It's been over twenty years since Keith's death and we blamed the fact that he received no justice on "small town racial politics"...oddly enough, the woman's father was a judge in cousin's case also.... Although I guess the one thing my family should be grateful for is that there was no widespread internet at the time of my cousin's death.  We only had to bury him once... Trayvon's parents seem to have to keep burying their son over and over.

Maybe I am jaded by growing up in the South...I don't believe we'll ever eliminate racism.. I believe that there will always be people who harbor ill feelings towards minorities and there isn't anything we can do about it... What I do expect of America is that at some point we embrace the humanity, freedom, and equality our forefathers wrote so eloquently about (even if they didn't actually abide by their own rules)... yes we'll always have racist but we ought to be able to cultivate a culture that makes them accountable when they act on their racist thoughts... Instead, we have cultivated a society that defends and applauds them.

I cannot believe the levels that certain media and right wing conservative organizations are going through to smear this young man....Maybe the naive little Black girl in me sneaks out at strange times because I really thought that all of us could agree that ANY child walking home in his own neighborhood shouldn't be gunned down in the street like a rabid dog. Apparently, the naive little Black girl was wrong.
The smear tactics used against this CHILD have been out of pocket and I refuse to be silent about it anymore:

Michelle Malkin, a political pundit and Fox news regular (big surprise there) owns and operates a website called Twitchy... Earlier this week the website ran a post with a picture of George Zimmerman wearing a suit next to a picture of shirtless Black boy with sagging pants that it proclaimed to be Trayvon Martin...It was a LIE...the picture is not of Trayvon but how sad for the readers of this demented website if they feel that bad fashion choices justify murder.....

The Blaze, a website started by the always race neutral Glen Beck, published a list of offense that might lead to a 10 day suspension claiming that Trayvon might have committed kidnapping, arson, and a number of other violent crimes...none of which has any basis in fact since a) if the marijuana residue bag is the truth then  his school infraction was not violence and b) I'm annoyed that no one is pointing out that Trayvon's principal was interviewed and emphatically stated that Trayvon did not have disciplinary problems...his suspension was based on tardiness... I missed the law where you're allowed to kill kids for being truant

A Texas college newspaper printed the above cartoon and then had the nerve to say..oops our bad, we didn't realize it was racist (really did we need to draw you a picture???).... the cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, actually defended her cartoon though she did resign from the student paper.  I love her reasoning, she was trying to depict how the media sensationalizes stories.... really now?? And this was the best example you could come up with?? Then you need a lot more college classes ma'am.

A website reportedly run by the Klan (yes, I mean the Ku Klux variety) was touting the superb intellect of one of their members by bragging that he had hacked into Trayvon Martin's email, FaceBook, and Twitter accounts.  However, they ended up with egg all over their face, however, when they discovered that Trayvon Martin was like any seventeen year old kid, his emails concerned his SAT registration and college and scholarship applications... Way to waste four days LOSER!!! and I would also like to say that I wouldn't be bragging about superior intellect when it takes you 4 days to hack into an email account...I'm just saying

 Before I close this out, I want to address some of you so called Black posters, posting on this site and others around the internet...I really don't care whether you are Black or not, although I highly suspect most of you aren't, it is pure ignorance to bring up the issue of Black on Black crime when we talk about this boy's death... First of all it's like comparing apples to oranges...Trayvon Martin wasn't killed by a Black man so if I am talking about Trayvon Martin's death, then why would I need to bring up Black on Black crime... Secondly, this is a kid who was walking home... He wasn't in the middle of a drug transaction, he wasn't running with the local gang, heck he wasn't even hanging on the "wrong" side of town.  We tell our children that if they do the right things that everything will be okay and this kid did and the man responsible for his death is sitting at home having a coke and a smile.

Think on this for a minute:  A few years ago, I was in court when a sixteen year old Black male plead guilty to shooting a fifteen year old Black male.  When the judge asked him why he had took another person's life and basically thrown his own away, the kid responded," He knew he wasn't supposed to be in my neighborhood.  He knows we run the west side.  He must have had a death wish coming to our neighborhood."

I don't see much difference between his reasoning and the reasoning George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin.  Now people will point out that the gang members don't own the "territory" or neighborhoods they claim to run... But uh George Zimmerman didn't own the whole neighborhood either and turns out Trayvon has as much right to be there as he did.  I should also point out that the fifteen year old that was killed had two guns in his waist band but no one entertained any thoughts of self defense for the sixteen year old.  He was sentenced to fifteen years, remind me again how much time George Zimmerman got??? I abhor Black on Black crime...I find it disheartening that our children will kill each other over things like sneakers, drugs and which project they grew up in...but none of that changes the fact that Trayvon Martin was gunned down in his own backyard like a rabid dog and the man who did it is escaping responsibility.  So please miss me with the why all the outrage crap??hmmkay


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