Wednesday, July 24, 2013

For my future sons

I will admit that I have strong opinions. If I believe something it is difficult to change my mind. I believe what I believe but I'll listen and try to understand your point of view. I also try to be sensible, try not to talk too quickly and to be careful about what I say. I truly believe that your words are strong. That apologies are useless. You meant what you said or you wouldn't have said it. I believe in forgiveness, sure, but be careful about what leaves your mouth. I try but I can admit that I'm not always successful.

Due to this, I was hesitant to discuss Trayvon Martin on my blog. It has been such a deep discussion and it makes many people uncomfortable, angry and hurt. But you know that nagging feeling that won't leave and you know that something needs to be said. That there is something that you keep thinking about and would like to discuss but you're avoiding it because you want to be .... safe. Well, that's how I've been feeling.

Before I get started let me say that I don't think every white person is prejudice. Just like I know that there are black people who are prejudice. But it seems that as soon as you say that someone was profiled based on the color of their skin people scream, "blah, blah, blah you think everyone is racist".

I don't. I wasn't raised that way. And I don't live my life that way. I just believe/know that certain races (let's take black boys/men for example) are profiled as dangerous thugs. You see them coming you better run, if they are walking in your direction you should cross the street, if they are walking pass your car you need to lock it. Your life depends on it. Our society sees black men as dangerous thugs. You know it, I know it. And if you don't know it you're most likely in denial or live in an area where you have not been exposed to it. Either by choice or by chance.

I don't know about you but I've never met a thug with just skittles and ice tea on his person.

I sat down many times a night and I know I'm not a mother, but I would like to be one in the future. And I thought about the fact that one day I could possibly be a mother to a son. A black son. And it hurts my heart that one day my son could be walking down the street, minding his own business, doing no harm to anyone, be profiled and killed. Taken from me in a second for no reason at all.

I keep saying in my mind if Zimmerman had just stayed in his car. He was not in any immediate danger. I mean, he did have a licensed gun on his body. As soon as he felt threatened while he sat in his car he could have easily defended himself. I truly believe that he would have been fine and so would have Trayvon if he had just waited for law enforcement to do their job. Yes, I understand he was on neighborhood watch as too many people have pointed out to me. That's right, watch. Not neighborhood follow. He did not have any business to get out of his car and follow Trayvon. But he did and a son has been taken from a grieving mother and father.

What really got me during this trial is the many times I heard people who believed that Zimmerman was innocent say, "Zimmerman was defending himself." I didn't hear about how wrong it was for Zimmerman to follow Trayvon and cause the trouble himself. He made it that he had to "defend" himself. When was seeking out trouble defending yourself? I believe there should be a clause to the self-defense claim called Trayvon, that when you seek trouble and things turn deadly you cannot claim self-defense.

I can guarantee that if Zimmerman did not have a gun on his person he never would have followed Trayvon. He felt like a big guy because of it. He knew that if anything went wrong he could “defend” himself. So I’m creating a scenario for you. You’re walking home at night and it dawns on you that someone is following you. Everyone has different reactions. I probably would start walking faster and then start running but not before I make sure that my sharpest key is pointing straight and one fist is balled up. Sean says he would confront the person following him (I didn't like this one bit, fyi). Whatever you choose to do don't forgot that it is late at night. Anyone following you at that time is surely up to no good, right? So was it wrong for Trayvon to believe that the person following him, late at night had ill intentions? No. It’s a human reaction.

I think that this case opens the doors for many sick individuals to target black boys/men, begin to follow them while armed and then claim self-defense. Yes, it does. We all know there are some sick people in the world we live in.

I've also thought, what if it were the other way around? If Trayvon was Zimmerman's race and Zimmerman was Trayvon's race. I know, I know. A lot of people hate this argument. But I'm going to say it anyway. I think that Trayvon would have been hailed a hero for trying to fight off his black thug stalker.

Or let's say that somehow Trayvon killed Zimmerman when he realized he was being followed. I highly doubt that it would have taken 40+ days to arrest Trayvon. I highly doubt that Trayvon would have slept that night in the comfort of his home after taking a life. I highly doubt that Trayvon would not have been taken to the precint just by claiming self-defense.

A lot of people are saying; WHY does race have to be brought in? It has NOTHING to do with race. The problem is that it has EVERYTHING to do with race. Trayvon was profiled by the way he looked. That is what caused the problem in the first place. Zimmerman said, "those a$$holes always get away". We all know the a$$holes he's referring to. And just so we're all clear, I don't like being called an a$$hole for no reason. He was going to make sure that it didn’t happen this time.

One of my blog friends made a point that I have to share. She said, that just because we can all share water fountains, just because we don't have to sit at the back of the bus, just because we have a black president doesn't mean that race is not a big issue in America. Have you ever read YouTube comments? I rest my case. And if you haven't, please do me a favor and read them. You'll be surprised. Those comments are made by individuals living in America who are pretending that they do not have race issues but behind closed doors, behind their computers they spit their hate into the universe, they judge and determine how they will treat a person based on the color of their skin and we have no choice but to deal with it.

The thing is that as much as I claim this to be true it will be hard for everyone to accept. It is hard to accept when you’ve never been profiled. It is hard to accept when you’ve never been followed around in a store to ensure you wouldn’t steal anything just because you're black. How do you know you're being followed because you're black? When you're living in your college town which is predomninately white, and you are with your white friends and they are not being followed, just you. When even they point it out to you.

It is hard to accept when you’ve never been called the N word by a white person as though you're the scum between their toes. It is hard to accept when society hasn’t placed a horrible stigma regarding your race. You can’t and will never understand unless you are black. Yes, that’s a brash statement but I’ll never understand how it is to be non-black. But I can tell you how it is to be black in America. Why? Because I'm a black woman living in America.

My issue is when people try to throw away valid concerns from people outside of their race and deem it not valid. How can you tell someone who has gone through profiling their whole life that this case was not about race? How can you tell someone that it was not about race when you’ve never had to worry about race a day in your life?

I will admit that I must behave a certain way just because I'm black. I can't go out and act any such way because I'm not only speaking for Faith but speaking for my entire race. I can't allow my behavior to affect another black person. Can you imagine living that way? That if I act all crazy, the person who experienced my crazy will now expect that crazy from the next black person and feel that they are entitled to feel the way they do. I mean, that one black person treated them horribly. So they all must be bad just like society says. But if I treat every person I encounter with love, consideration and kindness then I am sharing another side of blacks that society has failed on numerous occasions to share.

Until you attempt to understand, or try to put yourself in someone else’s shoe who is telling you about their experience, do us all a favor and keep ignorant comments to your own self. No one needs to hear it. I mean, I don't want to hear it.

I'm going to backtrack a bit. During the Michael Vick trial I was mad as all hells. I mean, these innocent animals were killed. I wanted justice for those animals. People screamed it from the roofs. And those dogs got justice. It is hard not to think that a young black boy's life is not more important than an animal. That's hard to think about. A human life was taken.

The thing is that this isn't the first time and sadly it won't be the last. But I can speak out, stand up and fight for sons taken too soon. Isn't that my duty? To say, you know what, enough is enough. To say we are not going to allow you to get away with your shit any longer. To say, you've taken ENOUGH! To say that I'm not going to allow you to act like you know anything about me based solely on the fact that I am black.

I'm speaking out for my nephews, I'm standing up for my future sons, in hopes that they will never have to experience how it feels to be judged based on the color of their skin. To be killed because they look like they are up to no good. To be shot dead and no one in law enforcement give a damn.

I can't say without reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not defending himself, after Trayvon attempted to defend himself from being followed by a grown adult at night. But I can say without reasonable doubt that the dispatcher advised Zimmerman to stay put. I can say without reasonable doubt that Trayvon was profiled, stalked and then killed due to the color of his skin. There was no winning for Trayvon that night. He was not going to change what Zimmerman thought about people that looked like him. He was doomed because the color of his skin meant that he was up to no good in Zimmerman's mind. You may not agree. Sometimes you can't agree when you haven't seen this type of prejudice in your own life.

I pray you never have to.

*** This will be the only time I will delete a comment if I find it disrespectful to Trayvon Martin and his family. I welcome only sound comments or opinions. You can disagree with me, I welcome open discussions, but make damn sure that it is written in a respectable manner ***


The Pink Growl said...

Bless you Faith! It takes guts to be passionate and write a post like this! You are so right! It's a hateful world we live in. XOXO

Emily Gilbert said...

I love you for writing things. I have a similar post that I'm sharing tomorrow, because I wanted to choose my thoughts and words carefully and re-read it a million times before publishing.

I agree with everything you just wrote. I fear for my son as well, not only from racist men, but also the general black on black crime that is so prevalent with young men in my city__ because he himself is black. I pray that God takes the foolish things of this world and sets it right. I pray for my son's safety/protection in this hateful world, because it's really all I can do to "control" the situation.

This whole case disgusted me because it was clearly racist and because a GROWN adults, STALKED a teenager, and than killed him. That is the definition of murder! While he may have escaped from Florida's law, he will always be in prison in his own heart and mind & God sees everything.

TJ said...

What a great post! I'm a long-time reader, and I love your blog.

I struggled with writing about the trial as well and mustered some strength to write about the media's approach to the trial and how Rachel Jeantel was put on trial instead of Zimmerman.

I was left thinking about a couple of things as I read your post. We (Black people, White people and others) can be prejudiced, but most of us can't be racist. To be racist, you have to have the power to oppress, and most people of color do not have the social and economic power to do it. So, I know people, like you said, of all races who are prejudiced, but very few can oppress me. I find that racism happens more in institutions like schools, banks, etc. These structures have the power to oppress (which is called institutional racism). Racism and prejudice sorta look alike, but they're different below the surface.

I know what you mean about representing for all Black people. I used to try to do it (and still catch myself), and it's exhausting. I'm getting to the place where I refuse to do it. If people meet me or see some crazy image of Black people on TV and make assumptions about ALL Black people, that's on them, not me. That shows their limited world view. I'm sure you don't stereotype all people of other races based on your encounters with a few, and you deserve the same.

Again, great post! These posts are so needed to build community across races and ethnicities! Keep doing great work!

Law_Fal said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I pray that no one posts anything negative, but if they do then maybe that will help them understand even further that the words you wrote are true. Hate does exist even if it's not the in your face sit at the back of the bus type. But prayerfully we can put a stop to it one day and become stronger as a nation! :) I know you exhaled after pushing post! It feels good to get stuff off your chest. The truth will set you free!!!! Enjoy your Wednesday!

YeamieWaffles said...
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Cece said...

I'm really glad you wrote this. When I think about this case and the outcome it makes me so sad and angry. Why did he have to seek out trouble? Why did he have to follow him? Then, when a kid with skittles fights back because now he's being followed by some big man now it's self defense. It's so wrong that his life is gone and the one who did it got away. It's just a tragic thing any way you look at it. I appreciate you sharing your honest opinion on race. There are stereotypes about every single race. And it is true that people are profiled because of those pre conceived notions. It's sad that there are so many close minded and hateful people in this world. I feel incredibly lucky that I personally have not experienced much in the way of racism but I know it's out there and it makes me sick.

Jasmine Hellogmsunshine said...

I like you, thought long and hard about whether to post what I thought about the trial... even still deciding, not because I don't want to ruffle feathers, but I have SO much to say, it could be a book. From having an older brother who went to predominantly white schools his entire life, and still profiled, followed, denied jobs and even held up at gun point and robbed of things that he had. It's funny because the first thing I thought was, thank God I am having a daughter because she has a smidgen of chance to not have to deal with all of that.

Nylse said...

You've said alot here; some of it I've not seen expressed anywhere else.
I am the mother of a black son - he is 23 years old. I used to live in fear, because I have that fear based on history.
I pray alot; and trust. Anyhow this is not say that those who don't pray have bad things happen its just that for me its what removes the fear and instead gives me clarity of mind.
I like how you emphasize that we shouldnt minimize what people feel because you've never experienced it. I like how you want to institute the Trayvon clause because that right there is what the case hinged on. No one talked about how Zimmerman picked a fight.

keep writing!

Angela K said...

I agree with you 100% and this case sickens me. As a white person, I'm ashamed at how much racism and white flight there still is among my race. It's unacceptable from any person, anywhere, of any race or culture. Poor Travyon and his family. I was disgusted at how this trial played out. It makes me angry and ultimately sad. We should have progressed more as people by this point. We are all children of God and should see and treat each other as such!

Life with J and J said...

This case cause hubby and I to haev some serious conversations especially about our future kids. Your post really brought it home for us as well and the example truly made me stop and think.

It is sad that there are people out there who think racism doesn't exist or think this was not a race related case. I pray that one day, we'd all be able to look back and say that this case was the beginning of a change. Because it is so much needed.

Kimberly Whittaker said...
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Miss Monica said...

Thank for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your honesty. I even shared this post with my coworkers.

Kimberly Anne said...

Faith, I commend you for being so honest and STRONG to write a post on this topic. I agree with many, if not all, of your points. It's a crazy, disgusting world that we live in. This case has forced a lot of people to think...some for the better...and some for the worst.

Tenecia said...

There are so many things I have wanted to say about this case and I haven't been able to articulate it but you did!


Mallory said...

Great post! I agree 100%.

Nancy said...

I didn't follow the trial like I should have. But I do know if that was my son, my life would have stopped immediately.
I am guilty of NOT watching the news because it upsets me so badly these days. Maybe that's ignorant on my part, but all I can do is pray. Honestly, when Josh wants to watch it, I go take a bath or do something else. Being a mother, I cannot imagine the anger, questions, heartbreak Trayvon's Mom feels.

Ashley R said...

I cried when I heard the verdict of this case. So heartbreaking on so many levels. Our country has come far, but has so far to go.

As I was reading your post, I thought of this video:

I know it is dated, but I don't think the actions in it are. I think this says it all.

I can't pretend to know what it is like to be in your shoes, but I can only hope to continue educating myself, my future family, and anyone who I can change in my life. I am never afraid to speak up, and I am glad you aren't either.

The only thing that gives me hope is that other people like me will continue to have children who will be surrounding your future children. That is the future that gives me some hope.

Kaity said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!! You are so right and I get especially angry with the people who have said "it's not about race." Sure, we don't want it to be about race because race makes people uncomfortable. But it IS about race and if it makes people uncomfortble, that's even better. We need to evaluate why it is an issue and how we can raise a generation that is neither discriminatory, nor colorblind. I want my babies to love on EVERYONE and celebrate each person's individuality as they were made in the image of God. If that sounds like rainbows and unicorns, than so be it, but I am sick and tired of ignorance and hate in this country and if we can't change the minds of others we can do our best to impart a loving and kind soul onto our "future sons."

So much love to you, Faith<3

Beauty said...

Very great reflection...

K&R said...

I think you have a great perspective. i've always grown up never caring about race. to me its never been important. i remember in kindergarten the first friend i made was black, we hung out all the time, and she was my best friend until she moved across the country. i've never been one to care, and i actually prefer diversity in my life. i love my mother for raising me like that. while i haven't followed too much on this issues because i mainly don't get involved with news, it makes me sick to think about the fact that racism still exists. i just wish it could no longer be an issue, but its not that easy. hopefully with more awesome people like you the world can become a better place. love you faith.


Sharon said...

Well said. I am glad that I read this. Normally I don't comment too many times on your blog. However, this topic was too important to remain quiet. Thank you for sharing your views. Thank you for writing your truth. God Bless you Faith.

Georgina said...

Well said Faith - thank you so much for having the courage to post this. I think to myself all the time, WHAT IF MY SON ONE DAY IS A TRAYVON..seen as a threat because of his hapless hoodie and color of his skin?

It's such a scary thought. I have faced a lot of racism, I know it is still very much a problem and will be for quite some time until many of us change our ways of thinking (in addition to many other things.)

This post was perfect, thank you! Well said.

Mrs JK said...

The outcome of this case really broke my heart. It is so disappointing that there are people who don't believe it was race related.

Adrienne said...

Amen!!!!! I am guilty of ignoring all of this hate because I just cannot wrap my head around it.. fathom the idea that some of these people think... It goes with race, sexual preference, where you live, what you drive, whatever. It amazes me how cruel people think and how they act. This was so beautifully written. I respect you so much!

Eesh said...

I'm sure a lot of people struggled with finding their voice about this. I'm definitely one of them. You hit the nail right on the head. There is nothing else left to say.


Cashana said...

Well written. I have tried to reconcile how I would approach this issue on my public blog. I wrote about it on my anonymous one the very weekend it happened. I hope my approach is as eloquent.

Sarah Mc. said...

It breaks my heart that we still have to have these discussions in modern America, 2013. I chose not to pick a public "side" on this case because I have a general mistrust of the media, and I wasn't on the jury. Now the trial's over and it is so obvious that there's so much need for a healing dialogue to take place.

I can't act like racism isn't real: I am a white woman in Birmingham, Alabama for heaven's sake. Just last week I finally blew my cool in a room full of middle aged white men who were using racist language. I had enough, and I chose to speak my mind. I had to call them on it: it was a Sunday, and I was fresh out of a church service where the preacher talked about serving ALL people and loving ALL people and I come into this conversation among people who profess to love Jesus and I was horrified.

I just found your blog, so I know you don't know me from Adam, but your post so moved me I had to join in. I wish I could have faith that racism would die in this generation, but I think it has always existed and always will. It breaks my heart because I know my God loves all people the same and has called me to love as He loves.

I totally understand the pain you feel for your future children because I have a small one and another on the way. I want to protect them from the world, from evil and hatred and bigotry and ignorance. I can't protect them forever, though, so I pray instead I can instill in them a love for people, a respect for differences, and the strength to stand out from the crowd no matter what the consequences.

josie renee said...

I have soooo much to say on this topic but I cant even begin to write it. Thank you so much for sharing your true feelings on it. My partner and I both struggle with the thought of raising our (biracial) black son in this world that 1) refuses to engage in intelligent racial discourse (and if you do, then you are by definition a racist for even NOTICING race) and 2) knowing that even if we raise baby Ian to the best of our ability, in many peoples' world he will be a threat merely because his skin is darker. Major sigh.

CC Parker said...

Thanks for this courageous post. My beautiful black son is a 9 year old TRAYVON! You have spoken the words that my head and heart needed to hear.

Mrs. Glam said...

Thank you for this post. Beautifully written, Faith.

LWLH said...

This is everything I felt towards this trial and verdict. I'm not black and I can't pretend to know what it feels like to be profiled for my race but looking at my husband and knowing that my future sons might endure this one day, breaks my heart.

Thank you for this post.

Amy said...

Beautifully written. Discussions about race are sometimes hard to have but are so necessary. There will be no change without confronting the problem head on with honest discussion and action. I want a different world than the one we live in now for my daughter. I want her to be free of other's prejudice. Hopefully one day this wish of mine and so many others can be a reality.

Maria said...

i could say so much, but i will just say i thought this was so beautiful. it made me cry. you are so smart. and so beautiful.

Jennifer said...

Loved your thoughts Faith - thanks for sharing them.

What I've found heartbreaking about all of this (amongst other things of course) is just the whole race issue. I thought we've grown and matured and evolved past some of this crap you know? To know of people profiling someone, or people to make ugly or demeaning comments about others of any race just blows my mind. I thought we've come so far, but clearly not. This America - land of the free. But nobody lives like it. All of the hate, it's just too much to take in sometimes.

I know it's dumb to say, but I just wish everyone could get along - see human beings as just human beings regardless of race or sexual orientation or religion or whatever. I know that's a dream world, but it's just sad. Hopefully the world our children grow up in, and how we raise them will be far less prejudice and more full of kindness than the one we live in now.

Rachel Andre said...

I've been reading your recent articles (Dark Girls) and I absolutely love your perspective and how balanced you are and stand up for what you believe. I've always LOVED articles with substanc like this growing up. I was reading through your comments and noticed everyone agreed with what you were saying. I guess this is the journalist in me; did anyone respectfully object with what you wrote? Would like to know they're thoughts. I've noticed that people who agreed with the verdict are fearful of being labeled racists or bigots. I look forward to your feedback. xo

Carolyn said...

My heart hurts over this. My heart hurts that you even have to write a post like this... that things like this have to happen at all... and that people can be so sheltered that they think this isn't an issue. I can't speak to the trial too much, because I tried to stay away from it. Honestly, it made my heart hurt too much. It's so sad. I want my son to grow up in a world where this isn't an issue, but that's not going to happen. It's so important for us to teach our kids that this isn't ok. And hopefully, future generations can do better. Hopefully. :(

Whitney Cypert said...

This was such a powerful post Faith. I agree with you on everything that was said. Living in the South, I have seen/heard my fair share of racism and I have never ever thought it was ok and I never will. People are people no matter their skin color or any other variation.