Tag Archives: change

Truth Hurts: Trayvon Martin Commentary

Trayvon Martin Hoodie

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very sensitive and passionate person.  But even without that knowledge, it should not be a surprise that my heart is deeply grieving for the outcome of the Zimmerman case.

Unlike many in our country, I wasn’t glued to my t.v. screen nor was I following various feeds online as the case was unfolding.  I don’t watch or follow the news like that…that kind of energy is just too much for me to ingest on a regular basis.  But knowing what I DO know about the situation, I am hurt beyond adequate words about what the Zimmerman verdict implies about the [lack of] sanctity of African-American life in our country.  But, sadly, I’m not shocked.

There has been much talk these days about race and just how “real” racism and/or racial disparity is and continues to persist.  And many of our Caucasian counterparts are challenged by the sudden “in-your-face-ness” of our frustration, disappointment, and even anger in response to the outcome.  And while I’m only going to say this for context (and probably piss off some in the process), I believe that the African-American community now understands the disgust that rose up when the O.J. Simpson verdict came down.  Different situation, but similar context…racial tensions at their height, very emotionally charged cases, and seemingly clear-cut would-be outcomes.  But both were turned on their ears, in shocking upsets.

And while the Zimmerman trial wasn’t as dynamic a circus as the Simpson trial, it is important to note that both outcomes were made possible by the way our justice system is set up…each defendant has a right to a trial by a jury OF HIS/HER PEERS – NOT the peers of the victim(s).  Because in both cases, had the jury consisted of the peers of the deceased, both cases would have produced quite different outcomes.

It’s also important to note that in both cases, it was disgusting and absolutely ridiculous the lengths that the defense went to in order to try to smear the name and character of the deceased in order to “fight” for their client.  And while I’d like to tread very lightly here, I’m going to throw in the possibility that the guilt of the defense attorney of the 1st case led to his ultimate undoing.  I can only imagine how the same (guilt) might carry out for the defense in the 2nd case eventually.  I don’t wish it, but karma is a mother bitch…especially when you KNOW better.  A paycheck or “job” to do doesn’t negate the power of the seed being sown.

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin, and I can only imagine how disheartened they must feel.  First, they lost their son to a senseless slaying, and THEN to pour salt into that wound OUR justice system pretty much called it a truce…AFTER dragging Trayvon’s name and character through the mud.  It really is shameful.

It’s shameful that our justice system is SO marred that this type of major public travesty can happen at least TWICE without there being SOME kind of revision to such racially tense cases.  I’m not a politician, and have no desire to be one.  Nor am I an attorney or legislator, and what I’m about to suggest may be as “kindergarten” as it comes…  But the issue of race ABSOLUTELY needs to be WRITTEN INTO the way these cases are handled.  It’s not as simple as trying one man for the murder of another…because the man who was killed, in cases such as this, wasn’t even viewed as a man – he was essentially hunted prey.  And I’m not just talking in the case where the deceased is a black man…it works the other way as well.  Once the elements of the case are introduced and the subject of race is broached, everything relating to the case needs to be dealt with through that context as it is now highly probable as a motive.  Again, maybe I’m looking at it too simply.  But all the “technicalities” have allowed MANY a guilty party to walk, and MANY MORE innocent ones to pay for the crimes of those walking free.

Personally, I’m just exhausted of it all.  I really do understand Rodney King’s infamous “can’t we all just get along?” question.  And unfortunately, there is a simple answer immediately available: NO.  As long as different cultures exist, and there are those who come from and are taught (aka “programmed”) by descendants of ignorance, this kind of madness will continue.  We’ll never all “just get along”.  That’s not being pessimistic…that’s acknowledging fact.

Do you think George Zimmerman would have given Trayvon Martin so much as a second glance had he been regularly exposed to NEUTRAL and UNBIASED experiences with African-Americans growing up?  Do you think it would have entered his mind to shoot and kill that young man had he been taught to have a healthy respect for the urban culture that dressed Trayvon…even if it wasn’t his own personal preference?  Lemme TRULY take it back to kindergarten and ask this…  Do you think he would have been following Trayvon had he learned the simple courtesy of personal space???  (Following a stranger…no, PURSUING a stranger…is a DEFINITE violation of personal space.)  He certainly wouldn’t have gotten to the point of murdering that young man had he learned about the sanctity of life and valuing others who don’t look, act, or live like him.  There’s much more to say here, but you get my point, I hope.

It used to be that African-Americans moved from certain undesirable conditions to try to escape the typical dramas of living in such conditions – namely violent acts.  But this case demonstrates that moving to a “better” community can be just as (if not MORE) dangerous as (than) staying put because if our sons don’t look like they “belong” there and we don’t dress ’em up to “look the part” it’s pretty much okay to gun them down because some ignorant ass is playing neighborhood watch vigilante.  Shame on Trayvon’s parents for not teaching him the “dangers” of BEING a young black man.  Are you SERIOUS???

But as disgusting and frustrating as this all is, we shouldn’t let it end in disgust and frustration…because it only breeds more of the same.  And no, we’re not going to change the world, our county, or even our home overnight.  But we can start.  We can start with truly sitting with whatever we’re feeling surrounding the way things existing as they do right now.  Feeling all of what we feel…then allowing it to pass, so we can move into productive expression and forward movement.  BE pissed off.  BE hurt.  BE angry.  BUT don’t stay there.  Those things are toxic if we let them stay long enough…and they poison our OWN system.  The saying “[harboring negative emotions] is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die” is always good to internalize and is a great reminder.

So how do we move forward?  I think it’s important to call a spade a spade, and work within the framework of whatever exists AS it exists today…WHILE working toward what truly IS possible.  And ALL things are possible.  It is TOTALLY possible for us all to live in harmony and peace with one another, in a perfect world.  But, as we all know, our world is not perfect…nor will it ever be.  Again, not being pessimistic…just stating fact.  But, just as our President mentioned in his response to the Zimmerman trial, we can absolutely work toward a “MORE” perfect world…and it starts right here within our own borders.

Working toward a more perfect world means teaching respect, encouraging dialogue, providing a safe space to get understanding, and not taking ourselves so damned seriously.  NONE of us have ALL of the answers.  And we all NEED each other.  Not to sound like an after-school special or corny “world” song, but it’s true.  And we can’t teach it to the world – not even within our borders – if we don’t first teach it at home.

Dr. King’s dream may be in a choke hold right now…but it still lives.  I would even go so far as to say it’s no longer his dream – it should be ours.  We’re still here.  We have been given the divine gift of life, just as those who transitioned before us and who once actively walked and breathed and had the power to “do” in this realm.  We can still make change happen.  We can still impact the generations with whom we’ve been entrusted.  I’ll take it a step further, and say that we shouldn’t give up on ourselves and our own generations (whatever age we are) because life itself is evidence that change is possible…we can always choose a new direction, even if our old habit has been undesirable.  When we know better, we can do better.

When we lose a loved one, we often hear “don’t let their death have been in vain”.  And while that’s a noble idea, unless their death directly and immediately causes a possible change event, those quite honestly are just words said to try to draw a silver lining around a painful situation.  The more accurate encouragement is that we not let our own LIVES be in vain.

I have one friend who was so moved that she started a community page on Facebook that JUST honors and celebrates sons. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Have-a-Son) Others will begin awareness and/or empowerment campaigns within their own communities, or choose to get involved in mentoring programs that already exist.

What will YOU do to begin to be and create the change you want to see in the world…?  Because unless this IS your perfect world, “nothing” is not a viable option.

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Seasons

I love it when seasons change. When we’re in any season, it can feel like it’s never going to end…even though we know better. In the summer, we almost can’t even imagine it ever becoming cold enough to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves ever again. As a matter of fact, just the thought of it is enough to make us break into a sweat. When the bitter cold of winter threatens to freeze us senseless, there’s no way we can be convinced that we’ll ever be able to leisurely lounge around out in the yard barefoot, wearing just a tank top and shorts…are you KIDDING me?! Where is the nearest cup of hot chocolate?? But alas, the seasons do change…consistently, and without fail. Granted some seasons are harsher…some are milder. Some changes are subtle, while others are drastic. But you can bet the family farm that change is coming.

 

If you’re a person who hates change, you probably find seasonal transitions annoying and inconvenient. But something to consider is that even within each season – whether it’s your favorite or not – there will be SOMEthing you either loathe (or would rather not have to deal with) or something to which you absolutely look forward. And I really do mean EVERY season. If you’re a winter baby and love to cuddle and snuggle, maybe you can’t stand driving in the snow or the elevated energy bills. If you’re a water baby and can’t wait until summer rolls around each year, maybe you’ve just grown accustomed to the humidity or seeing half-naked not-so-“beach” bodies flouncing around. If you happen to enjoy the transitional seasons of spring or autumn, maybe the unpredictability of rain or suddenly-cool weather, or tornadoes, hurricanes, or allergies puts a damper on your celebration of those flowers or beautifully changing tree colors.

 

Something I’ve come to realize is that wherever we are, it’s a season…always. No matter how good or bad, change is always on the horizon. And it always seems to happen right when we get good and settled into the groove of whatever season we’re in. Something or someone comes along and shifts the dynamic, and catalyzes some kind of different focus. Be it a job, a death, a relationship, a birth, or simply an internal awakening. Change happens. It’s the only thing that’s constant, ironically.

 

We can try to fight the changing of the seasons, or hang on as long as we can to the current season…but that only makes the shift more difficult. And only makes us look ridiculous. We’ve all seen that “clueless” fashionista that absolutely LOVES “short shorts”…so she tries rockin’ ’em with tights and knee-high boots, while wearing an extra thick bubble coat with a faux fur hood, extra long scarf, and matching gloves…and when she gets home, her legs are purple and she can’t feel them for two hours after she’s in a heated environment. WRONG SEASON, BOO. Same thing applies for the lover of cowboy boots when it’s “one hundred and HELL” in the dead of summer.

 

So what do we do? Be prepared for the season to change. This doesn’t mean missing the magic of the moment or becoming the proverbial witch hunter, looking for what’s looming around the corner, but it does mean FULLY getting the most out of the current season while having a realistic understanding that what exists AS it exists today can and very likely WILL be very different in the next season. And we have to be prepared to embrace and welcome the new season, along with all of its gifts and lessons (which can take on any number of forms, and/or come from any number of sources).

 

One reason I enjoy the changing of seasons is it makes me accountable. Because even if a similar season is to come next year (or whenever it comes, thinking in terms of the “life” seasons and/or cycles we experience), THIS season will NEVER return. How I spend my time and energy, or where I choose to direct my attention will never be able to be re-directed.  THIS season’s seed will have been planted wherever I chose to sow it, and cannot be uprooted and re-planted. Therefore, I’m learning to give credence to what really matters while I can actively influence the outcome. Because once the season changes, that chapter is closed and there will be no edits, and no do-overs. It’s done.

 

Now do I always make the “right” choice? I don’t think so. But even recognizing a poor choice is a tool to be added, and a garment made available for wear in the upcoming season…so long as the same poor choice isn’t made next go-’round. Have I caught myself in the mirror wearing out-of-season garb? Or worse…have OTHERS had to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to get my ass back in the house and put on a coat or take off that hot ass sweater? Unfortunately, yes. Do I stand there and mourn the fact that I messed up, or quarantine myself because I was embarrassed by the fact that someone else had to call my attention to it? I could. I have. But when I wake up from that lunacy and realize it’s much easier to just surrender to what the season truly calls for, recognizing that the seasons change for a reason and there’s a process I’m hindering by bucking against it…serenity comes. Freedom comes. Clarity comes. The bliss of the new season comes.

 

Why does the season always seems to change right when we start to settle into the current season’s groove and routine? Maybe it’s to keep us “alive” and not to get so deep into that groove that it becomes a rut. I don’t know. All I know is I love it when the seasons change…