Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hoodies

You guys knew I couldn't keep silent forever about the Trayvon Martin killing, but if you are expecting a blog post echoing the outrage that fills television news, you're sorely mistaken.

This post is about Trayvon. More, it's about what our society loses every time a child is killed. Trayvon makes headlines because of the unusual confluence of him wearing a hoodie, being armed with a box of Skittles and a can of iced tea, walking while black. It's about a law that allows people with guns to use them if they feel threatened. I don't know if George Zimmerman was attacked or felt threatened. I do know the police told him not to follow the boy. He made his choice.

More, though, it's about our loss of future leaders, workers, thinkers, fathers, mothers. Taking the life of a child damages our collective future. We lost more than just a single life. We lost all that single life could have contributed to his family, his community, his country. Children die violently nearly every day in the United States. In one weekend alone, more than a dozen children under the age of sixteen were murdered, died in gang violence, were the targets of vigilantes.

I'm guilty of crossing the street when four hoodie-wearing black teens walked toward me on Park Avenue. I was scared. I judged them by the color of their skin, the way they walked, their hoodies. I don't know if they were doing anything more than walking down the same sidewalk I was. I'll never know. I do know I'll never get over feeling guilty of judging them.

It's chilly today. I'm sitting here wearing a hoodie, but as an angry, 60+ white woman, I don't feel someone will shoot me for my fashion choice. It wasn't the fault of the hoodie. It was the fault of society for damning all hoodie-wearing young men to being a threat. We must learn that every life lost to violence diminishes society. We must protect ourselves, our communities, our children. When we do not, we put boys like Trayvon at risk of being a threat.


When does it stop? When do we value every life? When do we write laws that make sense? When do we enforce laws already on the books? When do we use common sense? Too often, common sense is a most uncommon commodity.




4 comments:

sharon said...

Nice post. And right you are. The lack of common sense these days seems to be the root of all evil. Everybody is too busy choosing a 'side.'

Betsy Ashton said...

Sharon,
Sometimes I just want to shout to the heavens, "why can't we just get along?" I know it wouldn't work, but I get so frustrated with loss of lives for seemingly no good reason.

J. R. Nova said...

There is nothing unique about this case. The only reason it's in the news, imo, is because Zimmerman isn't in jail right now. That's the catch, the shock value, the selling point that keeps our morbid population viewing.

But children are gunned down on the hour of every hour in our country. Children go missing every minute. Many, many black and Hispanic children. Many white children who are not the typical rich, blonde hair and blue eyed darlings we see on television.

I don't think the news does anything to help any of these children, or future victims. It doesn't inspire us to "help", just to watch and wait to see what happens next.

Betsy Ashton said...

JR,
You underscore my point perfectly. If Zimmerman were in jail or at least been arrested, this would never have made national news. As it was, it took several weeks for media to find this story -- or for the family to find the media. Now, it's a circus with all the normal firebrands yelling about racism. Until we know more, I wish they would all be quiet and remember we lost yet another child. The killings need to stop.