Fear As Exposed by Trayvon Martin / by Shanelle Gabriel

I haven't gone to one rally regarding the death of Trayvon Martin. I didn't get the memo about the hoodie, but I did change my profile picture in his memory. (I wonder if my pink hoodie would have spawned the level of concern that George Zimmerman had that night. I don't think the hoodie caused the crime, Geraldo.) I've spoke on the subject and been moved to tears. But I'm really not in the mood for jumping into these "movements."

 

The problem with all these "movements" is that we get riled up, then three months later we forget that racism exists. It's like an abusive boyfriend... We pretend we didn't just get the whooping of our lives just because things have calmed down. Just because he's not giving you black eyes doesn't mean you're not being abused. There are other marks... 

 

Some people argue that this killing was not based on race because: a. George Zimmerman is not White b. George Zimmerman is not a bigot (he has many minorities for friends and has a so-called good reputation). Please, people, let it be known that you do not have to be a White to be racist or have racist views. There are Blacks who are racist towards other Blacks. And just because you have relations with a group of individuals doesn't mean prejudices don't exist regarding the group as a whole. (I've heard "You're not like most Black women" several times in my life.)

 

The reason Trayvon was killed is a result of stereotypes given that are embedded in many of our minds, that minorities look like gangbangers when not in a full 3-piece suit. Many Blacks themselves would cross the street if they saw a group of young men in hoodies talking amongst themselves. There in lies the problem. It's statistically proven that a Black kid in a hoodie is no more likely to commit a crime than a White kid in a hoodie. And we can't fully be upset with Zimmerman for his frame of thinking: he was using the SAME stereotypes that cops are LEGALLY allowed to use in Stop & Frisk policies used by many police departments. A strange guy fitting the description of what police usually target in random stops, searches, and "are you sure this is YOUR car" situations walking from the store in HIS territory would naturally validate Zimmerman's idea to pursue this suspect before someone got hurt. 

 

Don't get it twisted. I want George Zimmerman arrested and tried for the murder of Trayvon. He should not have followed the 17-year old or fired his gun even IF Trayvon was a wannabe thug on his twitter or even IF he was the one who confronted George. What would YOU do if you realize you were being persued for blocks by a strange man in plain clothes in the dead of night? To this day, I highly doubt that the man with the gun was the one screaming help on the 911 tapes, and footage has since been released showing Zimmerman unbloodied after his scuffle. I pray the truth in its entirety comes out.

 

But what are we going to do to prevent this from happening again? How do we prevent the justice system from stereotyping young minorities? We rally against the legalization of prejudice, make serious amendments to the Stand Your Ground rule, we rally for Community Watch Organizations to have official training for difficult situations, we require more stringent gun laws (even in the South where guns are in more pockets than bubble gum), we teach our young people how to use the law to their benefit (because if you're being followed, your first instinct should be to call the cops instead of deal with it by yourself), and we work to improve community relations between youth & adults, cops & civilians. 

 

People seem to think this is about a "Non-Black man killing a Black boy and walking away." This is about it being brushed away as nothing. This is what happens DAILY when a young minority male is seen walking through a convenience store or sitting in a car parked outside his own house or gathered with a bunch of his friends walking home from school. It's the reason many of the adults that are adamant about rallying all over the country probably don't speak to or know any of the teenagers that live in their area. It's all about FEAR, and reaction to that FEAR. 
 
Only through being open to addressing racism and prejudice head on will we be able to begin to move away from fear towards love. This loss should motivate us all to be diligent about ending racial profiling, stereotyping, and addressing the fears that come with them. As Jerry Gille said, "Confront your fears... get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead." 

 

Rest in Peace Trayvon Martin