Be forewarned: This post is not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for my usual happy-go-lucky post. I’m speaking as a Black Parent.
On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot to death as he walked home. He wasn’t purchasing drugs. He wasn’t robbing anyone. He wasn’t a part of a gang. He was a straight A student, walking home from the store with a pack of candy and a beverage. A self-appointed neighborhood watch “captain”, George Zimmerman, saw a black male walking through HIS neighborhood and decided that the young man was up to no good. He followed him while he spoke with a 911 operator and shot the young man. He claimed he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense. The police took him at his word. As of the date of this post, he has not been arrested.
Most of you already know that Trayvon Martin is black and George Zimmerman is white (some reports say he is hispanic). Some of you will say, race should not matter. But it does. My daughter is 15 years old. I have to explain to my daughter why a grown man was afraid of a 17-year-old child. I have to explain to her that are people who will smile in her face by day, and loathe her existence just because her skin is dark. She will be driving soon. I have to make sure she understands the rules of the road, and the rules of driving while black. In a few more years, she will be on her way to college. I have to tell her about how to be safe on campus, and how to deal with people who will accuse her of “taking” a white student’s “spot” because of the college’s affirmative action program. If she drives a nice car, it will raise questions about how she (or I) am able to afford such a nice vehicle. Yes. I really have to tell my daughter about these things.
Actually, we’ve had many of these discussions already. I’ve had to tell her that people draw an opinion about her based on her zip code, and the fact that she is being raised in a single parent home. Teachers have raised questions about “problems at home” because we fit that certain demographic from which “at risk youth” come. I’ve already told her that no matter how good she is, she will always have to be so much better just to be considered adequate in our society.
I hate having to add the lesson about walking while black. “Baby-girl, never walk by yourself. Definitely don’t walk at night, with a group or by yourself. And DON’T wear a hoody. DON’T stop for candy, or chips or a drink. If you see someone following you and they say they are from neighborhood watch, stop. Lay on the ground. Carefully pull out your cell phone while stating, very loudly, ‘I DON’T HAVE A GUN!’ and dial 911. Make sure you speak loud, so they will hear the conversation clearly. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t yell help. No one will come. Yell ‘fire.’ Baby-girl, just stay inside. The world is far too dangerous…for you.”
Raising a child is hard. Raising a black child is harder.
Please, sign the petition. (Link updated July 17, 2013)