Family, I want to take a minute to discuss a trial that has gripped the nation the past year. A trial that has served to only further separate us from achieving any kind of racial harmony. As I write this I want to be clear, I am speaking to my African-American family and their response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin (“TM”) case. Furthermore, I am not talking about the inherent facts of the case, the fact that George Zimmerman (“GZ”) racially profiled TM or any of those elements, I am speaking specifically about the verdict, what led to that result, and the bigger message we can glean from this tragedy.
The death of a young man, a kid who was by all accounts was no different from you and I, is always difficult to stomach. I want to offer my sincere condolences and prayers to TM and his family. Your son should still be with us today. Proms, graduations, and marriage, were just a few of the things TM never got to experience and never will experience because of a fateful encounter with an overzealous neighborhood watchman. I grieve your loss, along with millions of others across the nation. TM did not die in vain, it is my hope that this post will open eyes to see the larger lesson in this tragedy.
Family, inside every tragedy, every failing, every misstep is an opportunity. This is a chance not to racialize something (yes we get there were racial undertones in the trial, but at the end of the day it was bound to be because the victim was black and the perpetrator was of a different race), but to think LOGICALLY about why GZ walked. When you chalk up the resultant verdict to racism, it precludes any discussion of logic. It essentially ends the discussion before it can truly get started. The attempt here is to start the discussion.
When you invoke the race card, you’re automatically putting yourself in a victim role. Logic is removed & emotion substituted instead & no dialogue takes place. Folks we, as the Black community, have been doing this for years & it’s counterproductive. In fact it’s detrimental to the African American community. Why? Because the thing about a victim mentality is that it never requires you to take personal responsibility for your actions. Since you can always lie blame at the feet of others, you are never forced to look in the mirror & critically analyze your misdeeds. The race card has become carte blanche for black folks to forever be victims. When a verdict doesn’t go our way: racism. When we don’t get a job: racism. You black? Something bad happen to you? Clearly its racism. ENOUGH! We need to stop using this horrible crutch called the race card. It’s crippling us, It’s taking us out at the knees. The race card allows black folks to be victims & remain victims. Reducing this verdict to a racial result only furthers that victimhood mentality. We are grown, and a childish response to a grown up problem is inappropriate.
Family, this is a chance to teach our children that they don’t have chained by the shackles of victimhood. We’ve shopped on Irresponsibility Blvd, gone into a store & tried on the victimhood outfit that we’ve donned the last 300 years. No more. Enough. Being a victim is about telling someone what they can’t do; I have no intentions of telling my child what they can’t do, only what they can accomplish. I see these “black leaders” on TV who are outraged at the verdict & I shake my head. I see people post on Facebook about telling their children not to wear hoodies & I am disappointed. This is counterproductive: all you’re doing is sowing the seeds of doubt, self-hatred & inferiority in our children, & it needs to stop. Reducing this verdict to race is poisonous to our psyche, & I’m looking for the antidote. It lies in logic, communication, & thought-provoking responses to problems we face as a people. Wielding the race card in situations like this don’t achieve any of those lofty ideals. The facts of the case were unlikely to produce a guilty verdict, the burden of proof was simply too high for the prosecution & the evidence was flimsy. BUT NO IT’S A RACE THING! Uh, no. Not likely. Until we stop being so quick to use race as the root of problems, it will continue to be a problem. Do we live in a perfect society where racism doesn’t exist? Of course not. There are examples where a racial analysis would be appropriate; this is not one of them. However, if you project an image of always being a product of some racist result then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you’ll be mired in a circle of irresponsibility.
I welcome all respectful commentary. Please share your thoughts, agree, disagree, or indifferent.
I love you all, and there’s nothing you can do about it.