The Heat Is On!
I could go on and on about the murder of Trayvon Martin, but I want to watch the Trayvon Martin special that's coming on BET tonight. Yes, I could get my news from a variety of sources, but none of these sources is handling this story with the sensitivity it deserves. For example, news personality (I can't call the man a journalist anymore since he has fallen very far from that tree) Geraldo Rivera was quoted as advising African-American parents not to allow their teenage sons to wear hoodies! When I heard the comment, I immediately thought about how, when I was growing up, rape victims used to be blamed for encouraging sexual assault because they were wearing miniskirts! It took feminists decades to change this blame the victim mentality, and so we all must be prepared for a long battle to address the deep seated racism that is at the heart of this kind of thinking. When people hear the word racism, they immediately associate it with discriminatory action. However, stereotyping is racism in its worst form, because it is far more subtle. Stereotyping based on race can cost a person his or her life as in the case of Trayvon. Yet, stereotyping is also a slow road to death when it leads to lack of employment and educational opportunity, when it means you can only live in black neighborhoods which have a substandard quality of living. Stereotyping can kill you instantly like it did Trayvon or it can waste you away like it does to the majority of nonwhites in America. Comments like Geraldo's masquerade as being well-meaning common sense. The average person will not be able to detect the underlying racist premise of it. They will not immediately see that one's race should not determine what you wear though they certainly would say one's race should not determine one's future. Yes, we have to acknowledge racial profiling and advise our young black men to proceed with caution. As the mother of two black sons, I know the fear which forces me to insist that my sons not stick up for themselves when they are confronted by authority figures. Yet, I also know good and well that no matter how cooperative a black man is-- if a racist wants to kill a black man, the racist will because he can get away with it! The American just us system will trump up some reason to claim it was justified. Therefore, is it any wonder that African American men prefer to die with dignity?
Right before BET began promoting the special on Trayvon on 106 and Park, I caught the tail end of a video. It made me think that if there is any culpability here, it is with stations like BET who glorify negative stereotypes of African American youth. They are a part of creating the fear of the black man that dominates this country! Why not show a young black man in a hoodie doing a good deed? It's very easy to point the finger at a white male dominated power structure, which IS responsible for Trayvon's death, but until we begin to acknowledge that we are not using the little power we do have over our representation, and basically reject false images of ourselves that we did not create but have no problem promoting in order to make a dollar, there will continue to be many more Trayvon Martins. So I ask you: Who really killed Trayvon Martin?