Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Made It In America?

George Zimmerman shot Treyvon Martin because he looked "suspicious". Everybody is talking about it. And in every conversation, I hear the same theme: disappointment. Disappointment in the justice system, disappointment in the death of a young black man who will now never get to fulfill his potential, and more importantly disappointment in America.

I hold no illusions about this country in which I live. I understand that it is the most free country in the world, culturally and socially. But my experience with America will always be bittersweet. My "freedom" in this country will always be tainted, and that is solely because I am naturally darker than the majority of the people in this country.

When you say it like that, it almost sounds ridiculous, as if I'm paranoid. Why would anyone treat me differently because I'm black? That's a question I wish I had an answer to, and one that I realize that I'm going to have to answer for any sons or daughters I may have. Why? Why are people suspicious of me because of my skin color? Why are more people like me incarcerated? What did we do to this country to deserve this?

I don't know what I'll say on the day my child asks me this. Maybe that's part of the reason I don't want or have children. I can't find suitable answers for these questions myself. How will I instill in my child the proper sense of right and wrong in this country? In this country, where black Americans are scrutinized more thoroughly than their white counterparts? In this country, where being non-white is enough to justify being stopped and harassed by the police? In this country, where a man can shoot a seventeen year old kid who defended himself when pressed into a corner? There is no justice to be had in this world. I fully realize it. Treyvon Martin's parents will never see their son smile again, never see what he will become, never know what he could have accomplished no matter what happens to George Zimmerman. I accept that fact. But that the system designed to protect all of it's rightful citizens would idly stand by and refuse to act based on a poor interpretation of the law has left me with so many more questions.

Do government officials really care about black people as constituents? We're only 13% of the population. With the exception of areas with large pockets of black constituents, why should they? Do they look at us, particularly the young male versions of us, and think, "they're all just criminals anyway"? What kind of system is that?

I do my best to be levelheaded, objective, rational, intelligent about such matters, to approach them from the standpoint that the majority of people are not so biased that they can only see what they want, that many people today are open-minded. But after incidents such as this, or the incident in Jackson, Mississippi when a group of white teens purposely said, "let's go f*** with niggers" (See that story here) I don't know how objective I truly can be.

In my mind, I'm drawn back to something that Malcolm X said in his last speech before he was assassinated. Malcolm X said,

"Whenever you and I are discussing our problems we need to be very objective, very cool, calm, collected. But that doesn't mean we should always be. There's a time to be cool and a time to be hot. See, you got messed up into thinking that there's only one time for everything. There's a time to love and a time to hate. Even Solomon said that, and he was in that Book too. You're just taking something out of the Book that fits your cowardly nature. And when you don't want to fight, you say, "Well, Jesus said don't fight." But I don't even believe Jesus said that."