I’ve been mulling over the media’s involvement with the Martin/Zimmerman case for months. I’ve stayed quiet until today. I thoughtlessly posted something quickly as my status. I really don’t love controversy on Facebook, but I’m so opinionated that sometimes I don’t stay quiet when I should. Usually I spend more time thinking about a tactful way to word things-this morning I did not. So I erased what I wrote, and I’m picking it up here…
Here are some presuppositions:
Race relations are so very strained in our country…still. We are, after all, only 2 generations removed from segregation and 150 yrs (roughly) removed from slavery. This heritage is still fresh and our grandparents and parents lived in it. There are wounds and they are legitimate-on both sides.
We are different as races. This is good. We don’t need to assimilate and be the same because we aren’t.
I am a white female who was raised in (lower) middle class privilege. I don’t know what it is like to grow up black and never ever will.
Treading on this issue is extremely tender. Hurts are legitimate. We talk about this in marriage a lot or even just regarding communication between the sexes. Feelings are legitimate.
So let me dive in…to what I should have been more thoughtful about from the beginning.
As a young white woman….I often feel as though I’m not allowed to venture into the topic. But today I will. I grew up in Memphis, TN. You know-the place where Martin Luther King was shot in cold blood by a lunatic bigot? It is a city with a racial chasm (to say the very least). My grandparents and parents were not racists. Race wasn’t really talked about in our home. Jesus was, and most of us know how Jesus responds to people. I grew up in a mixed race elementary school where I had lots of white friends and lots of black friends. My neighborhood friends were predominantly black and we ran around the neighborhood together constantly. I have wonderful memories of this time-because race didn’t matter to us. We were different, but we still loved each other. I remember once trying to talk like them and feeling like a fraud-it didn’t matter, they didn’t care.
Then everything changed when we got to jr. high. Nothing bad happened, we didn’t start being mean, we just all went separate ways because for some reason-race began to matter. And we did not speak again, even though we shared hallways and classes. I’m choking up as I write this, because to this day…I still don’t understand.
Then I moved away to the Midwest-where there were only tall blondes-literally. There was one bi-racial girl in my whole high school. That’s it.
But growing up in Memphis has jacked me up. I don’t know if this is the experience of everyone…or just me. I started to feel in Jr. High that I had to be sorry for something: that I had to prove to people of color that I loved them, like it wasn’t a given. And it is, to me, a given. Why not love your fellow-person?
I am SO very grieved over the state of our race relations, because I believe that our current Media is pitting us against one another. Of course there are crimes that are race related, sex related, age related. There is evil in our world. In this particular case, I just don’t understand why we are so convinced and sure that because a Hispanic man killed a black kid in the middle of an altercation, that it was race related. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. None of us were there. We don’t know. We will never be able to delve into the mind of George Zimmerman to know, or into the mind of Trayvon Martin, for that matter. They both had sullied pasts.It is a tragedy on all counts and from every angle. And it has driven a bigger wedge between us all.
There is much evidence that George Zimmerman fought to bring justice for a homeless black man beaten to death by law enforcement just one year before the Martin shooting. To label someone a “racist” is a heavy charge. This is a charge that will follow George Zimmerman for his entire life-whether it is true or false. Had Zimmerman been black and Martin been hispanic-would we even know about this trial? My point is that we do not know. Young black men are dying at an alarming rate. This is what we need to figure out. This is what we need to stop. Why are these stats not in the news on a daily basis? Why are we fighting and not searching for solutions? Why is Eric Holder not enraged about this?
We are all judging. We judge on the basis of sex, raise, age, education, emotional availability, political affiliation, and religion. This is not the time to judge. This is not a time to point fingers unless we are pointing them at ourselves-because we are all guilty. We rarely know the whole story. We RARELY know the whole story.
The deeper question is this…what am I doing to rectify these things in the lives of my children and in my generation and my sphere of influence? What can I do? Because anger and the state of our country will get us nowhere. Change starts with reflection and then action. Actually, maybe it goes like this: anger should lead to reflection, which leads to action, which leads to change.
My sister is pregnant with a child who will be half white and half black. My daughters will grow up with a cousin and hopefully a best friend who is non-white. I pray that for their generation, a generation in which 50% of them are non-white, things will be different.
How I long for forgiveness and reconciliation….it doesn’t start with you or my neighbor or the Media-it starts with me.
“And they lived happily ever after-but it was a long and bloody battle.”