It’s been over a month since a 17 year old boy was shot and killed in a gated community in Florida, and still his murderer has not been arrested. African-Americans are rightly angry that the confessed shooter, a white man whose father is a retired local judge, has not been arrested or charged with the crime. White people, mainly those on the conservative right and those who support non-restrictive gun laws, are saying there shouldn’t be a “rush to judgement,” have accused the boy Trayvon Martin of being a thug, and have even played the “reverse racism” card.
I grew up in a small town in East Texas. I know firsthand what racism looks like. I also know what it sounds like. There is no such thing as reverse racism. One has to have power to be a racist, and as a rule, African-Americans in our society, except for the Oprah Winfrey’s and Barak Obamas, have no power. Laws are stacked against African-Americans (remember the higher penalties for crack cocaine possession as opposed to powder cocaine?) There are more African-American men in prison than in college. Some say, “Well, they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps; no one helped me get where I am today! I had to work hard!” Of course, the people who say that are usually white. They don’t know how difficult it is to find a job when you’re a poor African-American man who is the product of poor schooling, single motherhood, and may not even have the transportation to get to a job interview. Of course, I don’t know how difficult it is either, but at least I recognize there are a lot of obstacles to overcome.
When we blame the victims it becomes easy to ignore the problem. Only when we look at ourselves and our culture and honestly talk about the real racial divide that continues to haunt our nation, especially but not only in the south, will we be able to solve our race problems.
Justice for Trayvon Martin would be a good way to start.