Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A "prick the skin" reminder

I haven't written yet about the killing of Trayvon Martin. The reason is that I can't seem to begin to think about it without crying. The senseless shooting of that beautiful young boy is overwhelming. But it goes beyond that. Remember the quote I used last night?

"I did my best to teach the master about slaves. Told him a hundred times when he was a boy that it wasn't a black skin that made a man a slave. It's the other skin, the one that grows on the outside, that second hide made of fear and obedience. What a good master does is every once in a while, prick that skin to remind folks that it's still there and always will be. I told him that if a slave was to molt that outside skin, you no longer have a slave. 'Mark my words," I said, 'when a man's not afraid, then he's hoping. And that's when all hell breaks loose.'"

The killing of that young boy is the "prick the skin" reminder to every African American boy - as well as his father/mother/brother/sister/aunt/uncle/grandmother/grandfather etc. - that the fear is very real. Whether that's what Zimmerman intended or not is beside the point...its the reality that has been reinforced once again.

What does it mean to raise an African American child in this country today? It means that once you get over the miriad of ways that the education, health and justice system are filled with inequities, you have to fear the idea of him getting shot while walking home from a trip to the convenience store. There's only so much a parent can do to try to protect their child. So as a white person I try to imagine what its like to be a mother under those circumstances. And that's when I know what a long road we have yet to travel when it comes to racism in this country. The particular bar I set is that we'll know we got there when a mother of an African American boy can sleep soundly at night and leave the fear for her child behind. Until then, I'll brook no talk about a "post-racial America."


  1. I can't even grasp this situation and can't touch it because the heartbreak factor is beyond my capacity to cope. I admire people who are willing to confront this head on. I come at it sideways, learning about it in bits and pieces to avoid being overwhelmed. My take-away centers around neighborhood watch as a concept, where the practice leads to paranoia and over-reaction. People peeping out their windows at the goings on in their own neighborhood and being afraid to even talk to the people on the sidewalks. The fear level of people makes the so-called neighborhood more of a prison. The fear of African American males is so pervasive in this country...truly a sickness. There is nothing post-racial about America right now. Sad.

    It was eye-opening to me that this Stand Your Ground law was signed by Jeb Bush.

  2. As great/g/mother of 8 magnificent grandsons, I feel this murder more deeply than I can express. Trayvon could have been my youngest one. How dare they think it is alright to kill our children!

    If one of theirs get a scratch on a school bus it is a national tragedy! If our kids survive under-educated, the military will take them for fodder in the white man's wars or get murdered in the streets. What a choice! Now the Hispanic males are also in the pool.

    There is no end in sight!

    No! We are not post-racial by any means.


  3. I blogged on this last night and linked to your post, since you expressed, better than I, my feelings about what happened to this young man, this child. I lived in Florida for 10 years. I am so glad I left that state. There are worse things in this life than being cold in winter!