Many of us will never know what it would be like to be watched walking into a store, watched as we walk around the store, or watched as we walk away from the store. It can’t be easy being young, male, and black.
Seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was unarmed. Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman was carrying a gun, and that is what shot Trayvon.
Since then on any walk in my neighborhood, I have thought that if I were black, the key chain or cell phone in my hand might easily be misconstrued for a handgun. Especially on a rainy night. And especially if that is what you are looking for, or what you expect of me. We’re talking racial profiling.
Impressive, the solidarity for Trayvon Martin we are seeing, not only at the televised marches across the country, but on local school yards, at bus stops, and downtown in the hours after school. All the young, black and white, are donning the hoods on their sweatshirts. Now, hooded sweatshirts are as ubiquitous and American as blue jeans and baseball caps, and I had no idea until this incident, that many black parents have pleaded with their sons for some time to please, not pull up the hood. But of course they do, just as parochial school girls like to roll up their plaid skirts at the waist. It can’t be easy being a black parent.
How can we help? We can teach our children not to hate. And as a country, it’s the gun laws we need to go after. For anyone in the sight of a gun isn’t any more capable of dodging the bullet than a deer walking in the woods. Which is just how it was on that february night in Sanford, Florida between the hunter and the hunted.