Trayvon Martin. . . One more reason to let go of our inbred hate for each other

I’ve been thinking a lot about the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin this week. A high school friend of my mine has posted some vocal and intense thoughts on his Facebook page. He is black and I am white. Normally I feel quite irritated pointing out such unnecessary demographics, but for this situation it is actually pertinent. I was raised by parents who lived through the sixties and the civil rights movement first hand. My father grew up in the northeast and has never forgotten the images of people having the flesh torn from their skin as they were hosed down for standing up for their right to sit at a diner counter. He remembers the “whites only” water fountains and bathrooms. And he most definitely does not remember them as the good old days. My mother grew up in the south and witnessed first hand the integration of the school systems. She has told me of the disgust and loathing she felt as she watched her classmates treat other human beings as mutant monster animals because they wanted the education ALL Americans are entitled to receive. These are the parents that taught me that skin color is nothing different than eye color, or hair color, weight, height, or gender. It is just one of a myriad of factors that make us each unique. It has nothing to do with what kind of person you are; it does not affect intelligence or physical strength, it does not make you better or worse than the next person. It is just part of who you are, genetically.
My black friend and I grew up in the south, and solely based on our addresses in the county, we both attended a predominately white high school. The county in which we lived I remember as an overall middle class area. There were parts that were more upper middle class, parts lower middle class, and parts that were slightly “slum”. I don’t know exactly where he lived in the county, but from what I remember of him at the time, I would say the middle class area. I lived in the apartments across from the junior high, and they were one of the slightly slum areas. The “white trash” apartments that families lived in because that’s what is affordable not because you are necessarily white trash. Druggies and societies rebels, or “hummies” as we called them, lived, visited, and partied in these apartments. My parents were divorced, and although they got along and my dad helped out the best he could, my mom still had to work two jobs to keep a roof over our head and food in the fridge. Welfare was never an option. So I don’t think of us back then as stereotypical white trash, I do acknowledge that we were indeed working poor.
My black friend has stayed in the area, raised a family, and built a business. I got out of the area shortly after high school and joined the Navy. I did some international traveling, served in the first Gulf War, and have had opportunities to live in a variety of areas of this nation. I have met, befriended, socialized, and lived among people from so many different backgrounds and upbringings. I have experienced the similarities and, more importantly, the differences there are from not only state to state, but even from different areas of the same state. I was stationed in southern California for a large part of my enlistment and for the first time really experienced the “melting pot” of this country that I used to learn about on Saturday mornings from the ” School House Rocks” cartoons.
There were so many different ethnic groups and races present in that area it was almost overwhelming. Where I grew up there was so much focus on black and white. In southern Cali, I used to joke with people that were so many different kinds of people that everybody just hated everybody. And it was kind of true. Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Phillipino all had their “own” neighborhoods and disliked each other. There were areas of predominately black and areas of predominately white. And then there was the Hispanic population that everyone collectively scorned. There was enough hate to go around to satisfy everyone’s dark side. But when I put on that uniform and drove on base, from my perspective, all that hate disappeared. It didn’t matter the color of your skin or the origins of your family, there was a job to do. We all worked together, ate together, were quartered together, and we partied together without regard to race. You can’t do your job in the military if the prejudices of your upbringing are at the forefront of your mind every time you put on your uniform.
Since leaving the military, becoming a civilian again, and then marrying back into the military, I have lived in quite a few places. The midwest, the north west, the south, the mideast, and yes, even Florida. My husband once told me that there were areas along the gulf coast of Fl that the Coast Guard wouldn’t station black service members because the racism ran too deep for it to be safe. That is a despicable part of our American culture. NOT the melting pot that School House Rock used to sing about when I was a kid. When I lived in the midwest, the racism and bigotry was saved for the Native Americans. It was an eye opening experience to see what hundreds of years worth of cultural genocide have left behind. It was one of the most beautiful and amazing places I have ever lived, and I met some great people. And it was really cool to see so many people take great pride to have even a10th of Native American ancestry to brag about. I learned a lot about respecting the beliefs and practices of others, without having to understand it. And I learned it really didn’t matter what you looked like, if someone wants to hate you, they will find a reason to accomplish that goal.
My black friend posted a pretty angry and frustrated post earlier this week about “white america”. I have been battling a fever this last week so I wasn’t up to climbing on soap box to respond. I also couldn’t see an effective way to respond without inadvertently offending him and his very justifiable anger at what happened to Trayvon Martin and the aftermath of his murder. Yes, I see him as murdered. I posted on another post my friend made and pointed out that this Zimmerman guy followed no legitimate protocol or procedure that any legitimate law enforcement person would follow. From what little information that has come out, he doesn’t appear to have identified himself or tried to identify Trayvon. It didn’t occur to him that a kid walking alone at night might be a little nervous when he realized someone was following him! It apparently didn’t occur to him that since there had been break ins in the neighborhood, that maybe it was his duty to see that this child got home safely. He profiled him, wanted to feel like more than just a rent-a-cop, and decided he was judge-jury-executioner for Trayvon. He wanted to be a hero and now he is a murderer. And what the “officials” of Sanford don’t seem to understand is that they have treated Trayvon’s death like Zimmerman treated Trayvon; they profiled him and decided a young black boy out at night is a justifiable reason to shoot him. They have taken this rent-a-cop at his word without taking the legitimate time to utilize procedures and protocols to make sure this man didn’t act without cause.
I didn’t want to stir my friends anger because I get it. I may not be black and will never understand what that feels like, to have learn how to block out the faces of those who are mentally profiling you because your are darker than them and therefore are automatically a threat. How do you not automatically see racism when an injustice happens to another black person?? I get it because as a woman I have similar feelings. I can not believe that it is 2012 and still women are seen in such an archaic light. Every time Rick Santorum opens his mouth about women, an uncontrollable rage bubbles up inside me that I don’t know what to do. And the vile garbage that Rush Limbaugh uttered about Sandra Fluke, among others makes me fearful that if men like this can get people to listen and agree with them, then I’m about two steps away from wearing a burqa!
So I understand my black friends rage at “white america” ( I didn’t capitalize here on purpose), but I want him and other black Americans to understand that not all white people are part of that “white america”. All of us belong to some subgroup that someone else hates. And hate is the key problem. We don’t have to love everyone, or even like them. It’s our right to dislike anyone we choose. We just don’t need hate anyone anymore.

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About goddessofglitter

I like to laugh
This entry was posted in commentary, in the news. . ., life's whispers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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