I have a couple of quick points that I’ve been turning over in my head as I’ve been watching the daily discussion about the Trayvon Martin case. Think Progress has a great rundown on it, in case you’re not caught up. The FBI has opened an investigation, but you may still want to sign this petition; there are miles to go between a grand jury being opened and justice actually being done.
1a. Can you imagine what it would be like to look at your child every day when they leave the house and know that someone in power could gun them down and not even be brought to justice for it? I can only barely grasp how terrifying and awful that kind of feeling would be like.
1b. If imagining that fear is a purely intellectual exercise, rather than a fear that you live with daily, count yourself lucky, but know that this is a privilege. There are countless people for whom that feeling is a daily reality; people who have to teach their children how to survive an interaction with the authorities because it is a vital survival skill.
2a. What happened to Trayvon Martin was put in motion by centuries of policy and prejudice on the part of white people. Were it not for that deep-seeded racism, nobody would have hesitated to put George Zimmerman in handcuffs and drag him to a holding cell.
2b. This situation – none of these situations, because there are many – is not about the actions of one white man. One white man stalked a teenage boy and then shot him down. A group of white people saw and heard what was going on and failed to act. Another group of white people decided that it was totally plausible that a man who had 100 lbs and a gun over the kid with the bag of candy acted in fear of his life. And it is a society led by white people that created the environment for this to happen. This doesn’t mean you are individually a bad person, but it means that you – and me – are part of a group of people who are responsible for this situation. And just as we have allowed groups of people to be tarred with the brush based on the actions of individuals, so do we then have to accept that tarring in these circumstances.
3. The miniscule amount of prejudice you may potentially go through as a white person is NOTHING in comparison to what non-white people in this country have to go through every. single. day. So sit down and listen. And for God’s sake, learn to use the internet for some more than just porn and piracy; it’s nobody else’s responsibility, outside of grade school, to teach you about things that are a matter of historical record.