Life Lesson: I Could Have Been Trayvon Martin
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Like most Americans I have been watching the whole Trayvon Martin case unfold and as a native Floridian I have been watching even closer because it does not shock me that Martin was profiled because of his race and clothing choice.
I’ve been reading pretty much everything I can and I am trying to keep a fair and balanced view of the situation that is set in front of me, but it's hard, especially when I have been in similar situations like this before (not to the extreme of being gunned down, but followed and questioned by a neighborhood watch monitor because I didn’t look like I "belonged"). I have seen the same blatant fear, disgust, arrogance, and superiority individuals displayed when I was younger because I was seen as a "threat." What most of those people did not know was that I was scared of them just as much as they were scared of me. I was afraid that if I defended myself, protected my family, friends, or companion that I would be shot, killed or strung up on a tree; my death forgotten because there would be NHI (no human involved).
This fear has been with me since I was in fourteen years-old, when I got the talk about race and how it will have an affect on other individuals' perception about me. So in turn I was told to work harder, longer, and better than anyone else because it was something I had to do to show that I deserved any accolades that I may have received.
When I see Martin’s face plastered all over television, magazines, and newspapers I see myself at his age. I see the mischievous grin, bright brown eyes or the blank stare that desires more in life that is currently presented. I am not here to make Martin into a martyr and say that he was a saint because I can tell you right now I wasn’t. Every teenager pushes the boundaries of what they can and cannot do and that right there is not a race thing. Pushing boundaries is a right of passage for all teenagers. because the turning points, struggles and desires of those years were imprinted on us for a lifetime.
Now, do I think this whole situation could have been avoided? Yes. Was George Zimmerman wrong when he decided to get out of his car with his gun? Yes. Was Martin racially profiled? Yes. Is the prosecution case thin? Maybe (but they must have something because they did charge him with 2nd Degree Murder and the burden of proof falls on them).
In any case being a neighborhood watch means just that. You watch and you report and you don't get our out of your vehicle and play cop and profile someone. I am trying to imagine how Martin’s parents and brother feel or how Zimmerman feels. Would things be different if the gun wasn’t involved? Would thought twice if Martin did not have his hood up and the ice tea and skittles were more visible? There are so many questions that could be asked. So many ways this situation could have played out.
This can be looked at as another learning situation, a retooling of the "Stand Your Ground" law, or another look at racial inequality who knows but this whole thing is bring up old fears and hidden emotions that I thought were no longer there. So now when I sit on the train I wonder if the woman across me is scared of me because its cold and I have my hood up, when I walk into a store in the middle of the night to pick up olives and green-peppers for a pregnant friend do they think I am going to rob them.
There are so many life lessons that can come out of this. I just wonder what direction some people will take.