Society/Culture — 23 March 2012
Trayvon Martin: Change You Can’t Believe In

By A Negro And A Keyboard

The morning of January 20, 2009 will be forever etched in my mind. I vividly remember sitting in an empty office at work, fixated on the images and words streaming on my computer monitor; words that I, as a Black man had grown up believing were only fodder for my childhood fantasies, but never truly possible.

As the 44th President of the United States, and HMIC (Head Mulatto in Charge), Barack Obama, delivered his historic Inaugural Address, I remember that for a brief moment in time, I allowed myself to dream of an America that could actually be better than I had ever known it to be in my lifetime; one in which minorities could be judged not by the hue of their skin, but by the content of their character. As I pondered these thoughts, I remember fighting back tears, thinking about the pride that my great-grandmother, who grew up picking cotton on a plantation in South Carolina, would feel if she could witness this monumental event. For the very first time in my life, I really believed that I could be more than I was. Too bad good moments never last.

Unfortunately, February 26, 2012, is now another day that will be engrained into my memory, but for reasons far more familiar to people of color. This is the date that Trayvon Martin, a 17-year black teenager, screamed for his very life before being gunned down near a gated community in Sanford, Florida, by George Zimmerman, a 28 year-old “neighborhood watch volunteer” who, prior to the fatal shooting, called 911 stating that he was following “a real suspicious guy” who “looks like he’s up to no good…,” and was explicitly told by the 911 dispatcher not to do so. However, as Zimmerman proclaimed on the recording, “These a$$holes always get away.” So he became very serious about ensuring that this would not happen again, and sadly for Martin, this dude was dead serious.

Contrary to Zimmerman’s depiction of the young man as an “asshole”, Martin by all accounts appears to be the farthest thing from such a description. An A and B student at his high school, Martin was in Sanford staying at the home of his father’s girlfriend only because he has been suspended from school for violating a minor school policy, and had no criminal record to speak of.

More troublesome than this heinous act, was the Sanford Police Department’s all-too-rapid adoption of Zimmerman’s recollection of the story as an act of “self-defense,” pitting the 140 pound Martin as the “aggressor,” with Zimmerman’s himself weighing in at a burly 250 pounds. Making this story even more difficult to comprehend is the fact that Zimmerman was strapped like Cain in Menace II Society with a 9-MM handgun, while Martin’s “weapon of choice” was a bottle of iced tea and Skittles. As far as I can recall, the only time I’ve ever witnessed a scenario remotely close to this was when Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III.

The most ironic and possibly most disturbing part of this entire ordeal is the fact that you shouldn’t be fooled by Zimmerman’s Jewish-sounding last name – his mother was a Latino immigrant. I thought I would die as I read Zimmerman’s father laughably run that old, “My son has black friends and family members” line, in the same fashion people do when they make a gay joke at the wrong time. Who, outside of Uncle Ruckus on The Boondocks, should believe that they have the right to look upon another person of color with contempt? Strongly resembling the older brother of Mexican chick Ice Cube was trying to hit off in Next Friday, I am wondering if Zimmerman has a mirror in his household.

Sadly, only 3 years after a moment in our nation’s history that had the potential to change the very face of the way that we view race in this country, we have yet another horrific example of how America will never change when it comes to the way that minorities are viewed in this society. Obama’s very Presidency has clearly illuminated this fact. Looking for the rationale for this, while trying not to get my Michael Eric Dyson on, I would argue that the reason for this is very clear: America profits every single minute on the feelings of inferiority and superficial means of living that resonate from minority culture. I would even take my argument a step further and assert that it is the fear of integration with minorities that drives many American staples such as suburban living, private schooling and of course, the handgun industry. Yes, as Gordon Gecko once taught us, greed is good, but unfortunately, not as good for those of us with the browner skin tones.

While it’s just another one of so many tragic deaths of minorities as a result of obvious racial profiling and bigotry, let us take Martin’s death as a painful reminder that as we are sitting are having our minds being lulled to sleep by reruns of Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, and The Game, we as a people are not advancing, because we are becoming more and more comfortable in living mediocre lives and turning a blind eye to such shameful acts, as long as we can cop the iPad 3. As my boy Odeisel always says, “Stop trying to save Black people, and just save your house…”

Damn, Obama really had me going that day too…

Recklessly Yours,

A Negro And A Keyboard


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