First of all like most humans I am truly sorry for the loss of Trayvon Martin. My prayers go out to his family and to the countless nameless others who like Trayvon have been killed because they are black.
It used to be that particularly in the south non-black folks were not afraid to admit that they were racist. Folks were not politically correct. They called a spade a spade literally and said and thought the N-word out loud.
They thought black folks were inferior and were less than human. Folks who held these opinions had no regrets. They expressed their racist thoughts openly without fear of retribution.
Now in 2012, even if one is busted uttering the N-word, there is some justification for it or rationalization of why that person is in fact not racist.
So Craig Sonner, George Zimmerman’s attorney, says Zimmerman is not racist. Sonner did not admit to hearing the 911 tape when folks thought they clearly heard the word uttered.
Trayvon Martin through his tragic death and our 24-hour news and social media cycle has captured the attention of folks and now folks act like they finally want to talk about race and racism.
And therein lies the problem. We are not ready to talk about race or racism. Yes there is superficial talk. Many folks are outraged at the shooting and lack of an arrest. It has captured the traditional and social medias attention.
Here is why I won’t sign the Trayvon Martin petitions on Facebook. People are expecting some change to come about because they sign a petition or don a hoodie. But as Bilen Mesfin so eloquently stated in “Stop Racism, Not Hoodies–A Message to Geraldo Rivera” racism and its root causes that need to end not hoodies and other other symbolic apparel.
So yes WeAreTrayvonMartin but also WeAreGeorgeZimmerman.
Because just are there are millions of potential victims of racism as long as the underlying causes exist there are also perpetuators of racism.
We’ve got to stop glossing over the issue of racism with shock and dismay at the myriad of occurrences or outright denial. Yes, legislation is needed to address the civil and criminal law violations, but more importantly change must come from communities. That is where the true battle lies. Racists do not care about petitions and marches, but once folks like Trayvon are viewed as humans rather than less than human, social justice can prevail and racism can be eliminated.
Let’s engage in real dialogues to end all the isms and phobias: racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, homophobia, and more. And not petitions and pictures of us in hoodies where we are preaching to the choir.