Monday, April 16, 2012

Hoodies, Skittles, and Guns: Racism Still Weighs A Ton

Trayvon Martin: February 5, 1995 - February 26, 2012

The shock and dismay from this heartbreaking case initially left me speechless and confused. Before forming an opinion, I patiently waited for all facts to be revealed... facts that still left me uncertain and gradually made me angry... because a young black male who wears a hoodie is automatically stereotyped as a hoodlum from the ghetto... and he's bound to start trouble... even if he's only carrying a pack of Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.

My brother wears hoodies, but he also wears suits and bow ties. His urban style of dress should not hinder the fact that he's a scholar student who recognizes the potential that he has to change the world. Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin was unable to escape this type of discrimination. He lost his opportunity to attend college and pursue any dreams he may have had. And what hurts the most is the scary thought that this could have easily happened to my family.

My Brother: Future Businessman and Mogul

Although I can appreciate the mass "I Am Trayvon Martin" photographed hoodie tributes, I chose not to participate myself because I didn't want to perpetuate such a sensitive issue. Instead of taking a stance for revenge or promoting the "eye for an eye" mentality, I controlled my emotions and anticipated the chance for justice to be served, legally. I was not physically present during the incident and my speculation may be somewhat skewed, but after analyzing the evidence that has been released, I can confidently say that George Zimmerman could not have possibly been acting in self-defense if he deliberately singled out Trayvon as a suspect and continued to follow him when he was ordered not to. Perhaps Trayvon was the one trying to defend himself, but Zimmerman's word against the world's presumptions presents a one-sided truth that can sadly only be clarified and proven by individual beliefs.

The stand your ground law states that "one may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first". In this particular situation, Zimmerman was the individual posing a threat and the terms of defending oneself as it pertains to the law should prove to be invalid. Furthermore, screams for "Help" coming from someone with a gun in their possession is both illogical and absurd. This tragedy could have easily been avoided if Zimmerman wouldn't have placed judgement in the first place.

Who's the real victim?

Diverting from the topic of race, a man who shoots and kills an innocent, unarmed 17 year old who was simply trying to make his way home from the store should not have been afforded the luxury of treading freely until a full investigation was completed. Reconsidering the racial stereotypes associated with Blacks, it is safe to assume that Trayvon would have been considered guilty until proven innocent if the tables were turned. 

Zimmerman's claims that Trayvon looked "
suspicious" were contrived from discriminative assumptions and prejudice convictions. His recollection of events includes statements alluding to the idea that Trayvon attacked him first, even though he has yet to showcase concrete proof or any signs of physical harm.   

After a long awaited fight for justice, Zimmerman was finally arrested and charged with second degree murder on April 11, 2012. 
"In Florida, second-degree murder is typically charged in the event of a death stemming from a fight or confrontation that does not involve premeditation. It can result in a life sentence when a gun is used."--LA Times

According to my research, Sanford is a city with roughly 50,000 residents that is famous for its history of racial tension. There is no isolated position of contact for where racism appears, but h
ow is it possible for differing accounts of this tragedy to derive from the same facts? And why is race such a pertinent issue when trying to determine an equal point between right and wrong? As we aim to gather relevant answers to these questions, two parents are still fighting to preserve their son's legacy and Zimmerman's fate has yet to be determined. However, if certain individuals were not brave enough to stand up and fight for justice, Zimmerman would have continued to roam freely with the option to happily enjoy a pack of Skittles and a refreshing can of Arizona Iced Tea... or walk around in a hoodie without having to be afraid for his life... because he wasn't plagued by the stigma of being born a Black male... and he will never understand how it feels to be marked as suspicious based on the unique color of his skin.

"Our son is your son."

"The apparel oft proclaims the man."--William Shakespeare


My style should not jeopardize my character
For with a hoodie as my protective cover
 or a formal dress code to please another, 
you will always discover 
that I am still me.


*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*