photo via First Coast News
“The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost… He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American…” -W.E.B. DuBois
NOT GUILTY! It’s funny, I went from rage to anger to just plain sadness. I’ve read many things, I’ve followed the trial, and I even protested with his family. The verdict was not surprising, more so the fact that still many don’t get it. I don’t expect anyone beyond a black man to understand what it’s like, but I expect compassion and some sort of sensitivity. My little brother is nineteen years old, and he is not a threat to you. Just because his skin is black doesn’t mean that he wants to rob, rape, beat, or kill you.
I read a blog post from Around The Way Curls today, in which a mom admits to being racist. In this woman’s open letter she realizes that she treated her white students – she’s a high school teacher – differently than her two black students. “He had me. It’s all he had to say to let me know that he KNEW that I didn’t value him like my other (read: majority white!) students. I felt my heart sink to the pit of my stomach. I had waited too long. I had let him slip away. My inaction had conveyed to him that I saw him in a more mediocre, expendable, ”he’s doing ok for ‘him’ (read:black boy)” kind of way. My actions WERE the actions of someone who valued him, his black skin, his future, LESS than my other students. He caught me.”
The sad truth is that this is still the reality for so many faces of color. Most races treat black and brown people as less then, even if subconsciously. We are treated as if we deserve it, or this is how the earth was aligned. It seems no one wants to really speak up about it. We focus on energy on so many other things, and just swept racism under the rug. The fact remains that my brother would have been treated as Trayvon, and I would have been the one weeping because suspicion and being black have almost become synonymous.
I struggle with this thought because I don’t really see a way to change it. I rather not play the victim but America is a country founded on unjust terms (slavery). In the same way that white Americans don’t trust black Americans with their safety, I don’t trust them with my future, or that of my future children. We, as black Americans, must fully invest in educating our families ourselves. Whether the subject matter is the corrupt legal system, the failing school system, or how to love their black skin in a world that tells them that its ugly.
This blog post is not to argue about how unfair the verdict in Trayvon’s case was or to dismiss the problems we face in our own communities –
black on black crime, rather a wake up call. We can’t allow our future to be shaped by those that think we will never succeed anyway, or those that think our only goal is rob them blind. We have a duty to preserve ourselves through the foundation and teachings of people like W.E.B DuBois, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The work is not done, we can’t be moved by not winning. Unfortunately, Trayvon has become another casualty in the war that is based on inequality. We must not let his murder live in vain.
Video footage from the first march in NYC Union Square.