Monday, March 26, 2012

Stereotypes Kill

On March 8th I saw the story about Trayvon Martin on Yahoo! News for the first time. I immediately Tweeted the following:

17 yr old went out 4 Skittles, killed by a neighborhood watch captain: Tired of crying over news. !

1 person RTed me.

At the time I thought it had just happened. I thought that his murderer would have been locked under the jail within a week's time. But he was murdered on February 26th, 12 days prior to when I saw the story... damn near two weeks and not only was I just hearing about it, but there was no justice for the unarmed CHILD.

Fast forward to March 22nd. The nation is in uproar. Anderson Cooper is discussing it on CNN, the #MillionHoodieMarch happened, the FBI and Department of Justice are investigating and Toure is putting his foot in his mouth trying to make light of some shit that's never been more far from funny. (I don't follow Toure, but I guess that's per usual for him.)

Two weeks after I found out, I signed the petition and changed my Facebook profile pic. I can't justify why it took me two weeks to take these small steps. Perhaps, because I REALLY and truly believe that it would have been taken care before I had to do anything else.

Pride and beauracracy are stopping the police from arresting George Zimmerman, though the Sanford, FL police chief has "temporarily" stepped down. (The committee who voted no confidence in him couldn't actually fire him for some strange reason... again beauracracy at its finest).

I'm going to be honest. I didn't want to write about this. I'm tired of talking about senseless killings. [the day after I wrote this post I broke down and ranted on Twitter thanks to a journalist that I won't name being a moron and inserting his dumbness into the conversation] I'm tired of being helpless and immediately thinking about my nieces and younger brothers everytime a young person is killed. I'm tired of talking about how tired I am and never doing any damn thing.

So I read the Black Snob's piece and the following sentence, a turning point in her piece if you ask me, stopped me in my tracks:

"But I'm sorry. I'm not going to pick up this shit anymore. It's not mine."

To me it was basically saying I don't have to accept the fuckery that is the killing of innocent people because "it happens." Fuck that! And I wholeheartedly agree.

And I think of how I've been stereotyped

Black mid-40s woman - T, you grew up in a single-parent home right? (Um... no)
White, late 20s man - T, I don't know why I keep thinking you live on the south side. You've told me several times that you live in Lincoln Park.
Indian, mid-30s Indian man - T, you went to U of I? Did you stay in FAR or PAR? (For references I stayed in Hopkins and Busey Evans)
White, mid-30s man - T, can you send me a list of the black influencers in America? (This one in particular pissed me clean off because I don't work on any clients that target African-Americans. AND he gave me no parameters. Dude, you want me to send you EVERY BLACK INFLUENCER in America... Is my last name Britanica #CmonSon. I'm not a multicultural marketer either. But I digress.)

Based on who I am: An African-American [none-of-your-business-how-old-I-am] female people have made what they think are fair assumptions about me. I wonder (and will never know) how those assumptions have contributed to or taken away from my success. Did I get a scholarship because someone thinks my background is downtrodden vs. looking at my GPA? Have a I gotten put on niche projects because they thought I couldn't handle bigger things? Have I been excluded from events that could have created opportunities for me because someone thought I lived in the wrong neighborhood?

What I do know, is while I've heard [off-base] words like aggressive and intimidating to describe me, no one has ever called me a "suspicious asshole" and taken my life because they're afraid of what a "suspicious asshole" like me might do to them or their loved ones.

I've been to gated communities before. No one followed me.

If I ever screamed for help, I'd like to think that someone would come to my rescue.

No negative attribute that anyone has stereotyped me with has ever resulted in me losing my life.

So back to the question at hand. What can I DO????? Well... for one, I can speak to black men and boys when they pass me on the street. I don't speak now because I'm just not into speaking to people randomly, not because I'm scared. But maybe if I spoke to black men, I could start a trend of people speaking to black men and they wouldn't be so scared so scared of the potential consequences of loving their "different-from-them" neighbor.

I'm going to be honest. What I just wrote is fluffy as hell. It's like I live in LaLa land thinking my small changes like speaking on the street are going to help racists be less racist. Like it's MY job to make racists stop hating.

Maybe there IS nothing I can do. Maybe because racism and bigotry are illogical, I need to stop trying to make sense out of dumb shit and just pray to God nothing like this reaches me (I know how very selfish of a prayer is that? Like who am I to be guarded and shielded from dumbness when others have to experience it).

I don't know. I didn't want to write this post, but I HAD TO write this post. I'm equally furious and sad. Equally. I wrote this whole fucking post and I still don't know.

The crazy thing is that no one knows what to do. Folks are buying Skittles and Arizona teas out the wazoo. Some dooface said to boycott those companies. Another jerk is saying to tell blacks and latinos to stop wearing hoodies. Someone ill-advised, but well-meaning group of folks are hosting a hoodies and heels party with proceeds going to the family. People are changing their Facebook photos, signing petitions, writing letters, calling the Sanford, FL PD, marching all over the country? Should I be doing all of that? None of that? Some of that?

What is the proper way to fight injustice that has nothing and everything to do with you all at the same time.

Maybe this is my place to write about, to keep the conversation going, to ask the questions.

I don't know. What are YOU going to do about Trayvon Martin?

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