racism

Delete,Delete,Delete

I woke up this morning to read a post on my Facebook against Obama that can only be described as hateful and racist.  What was even more disgusting was a few people agreed with it, even posting, “Well said.”  Well said???  What is the matter with you people?  When did this name-calling and hate spewing become a substitute for discourse and conversation?  When will I quit asking questions? 
I am from Orange County, California and what I did not know growing up was I was from a Democratic family adrift in a sea of Republicans.  It wasn’t a big deal then.  My parents did not like Nixon but they respected he was the President and never said, “I told you so.” when it turns out they were quite right about him.  I have reconnected with a lot of people from my home-town of Brea through Facebook. It appears that not only are they still Republican, but a couple of them are viciously mean and racist when discussing Obama. I understand being upset with a President. I have spent the majority of my adult life not particularly liking whoever was President. I do not understand, however, the amount of hatred, vitriol, violent threats and meanness directed toward Barack Obama. Oh wait, yes I do.   One of my favorite posts regarding Ann Romney written on Facebook, “It will be so nice to have a beautiful intelligent first lady again.”  Hmm.  I am playing the race card because I have seen it written down.  I saw it on a soon to be former Facebook friends post this morning. 
I have one friend from Brea that I am still in contact with through Facebook or phone almost daily.  Wendy and I have been friends since Junior High but we were kind of “off campus” friends meaning we hung out with different groups at school.  When we really needed to talk, rant or get advice we would always turn toward each other and still do.  When we were Freshman I found a marijuana cigarette or what I was told to call a “joint” in a purse my sister and I shared and I freaked out.  I was pretty hysterical about holding an illegal substance in my hands so I called Wendy and asked her what to do.  She told me to calm down she’d be right over.  She arrived five minutes later in her green Brea Olinda High School band uniform and told me to give her the joint and she would take care of it.  It took me fifteen years to figure out that she and the rest of the brass section smoked it under the bleachers during that nights’ football game.   Wendy has always been the voice of reason in my ear. She is nicer than I am and believes people are good even when they say or do bad things.  I admire that about her and I wish I were more like her.  Maybe Wendy is right and our mutual Brea friends are good people in spite of their offensive posts.  They call themselves good people and talk about God and church and all.  What does God think of hate and racism?  I can’t reconcile it so I will leave it to Wendy to explain the psychology to me as she has done for almost forty years.   In the meantime I will just keep pressing delete.

Trayvon Martin

My twenty-four-year-old son Andrew lives in South Harlem.  He often wanders around Manhattan wearing a hoodie and eating candy.  I don’t worry too much about his safety, just the “be careful”, mom stuff.  I never think, “I hope he isn’t mistaken for a burglar tonight”.   Or, “He better not go into a white neighborhood if he doesn’t have any business being there.”  No, instead I feel confident knowing that he is as safe as he can be and police officers, security guards, and the neighborhood watch have his back as long as he stays on the right side of the law.
Trayvon Martin’s mom never had that security.  I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a day of his life she didn’t worry about him, hope he didn’t have an “attitude” with the wrong people or be somewhere he shouldn’t be.  Let’s say it was Andrew walking through that Florida neighborhood.  Would George Zimmerman have shot him?  And if Mr. Zimmerman had shot Andrew would we be having a different discussion?  Yes, I think we would.
Last week I saw a conversation two of my Facebook friends were having with a mutual friend of theirs.  It was about how Trayvon Martin was not the choirboy he was made out to be and that George Zimmerman was Hispanic.  I suppose this means they thought Trayvon had it coming, but I’m not sure because I couldn’t comment and ask what the point was.  Probably just as well or I would have been in yet another Facebook debate.  I don’t really see how either of those things makes a difference.  How many of us have kids that have been in trouble?  More of us than know or are willing to admit I assure you.  I have a child who has struggled with some of the same issues as Trayvon Martin.  I sincerely hope that does not mean she could be shot if she turns around and asks someone why he or she is following her.  I find it a tad ironic that Mr. Zimmerman being Hispanic should be relevant in whether or not his murdering Mr. Martin was racially motivated.  Can’t Hispanic people be racist?  Is it not racist to think all minorities love each other?  Oh look, I managed to comment anyway.
We all racially profile.  We are all racist at one time or another.  The point is to try to get beyond initial impressions and reactions and take each situation and each person as an individual.  I realize George Zimmerman was in a position where he had to make pretty quick decisions.  But, here lies what I think is the real problem with this whole thing.  If you leave your home with a gun you are intending to use it.  Once you have reported a suspicious person to the police and the police have told you not to follow them you stop following them.  The Stand Your Ground law should not apply to those who go out looking for a place to stand their ground.  Trayvon Martin, even if he were the worst person on the planet, was doing nothing to warrant being followed be George Zimmerman.  It was not George Zimmerman’s job. This was murder.  I don’t care if he was black, white, brown, yellow, green, or purple it was murder.
Personally, I have had very little experience with racism.  I grew up white in Orange County in a family that did not talk about people based on how they looked.  I even dated a guy for seven months and I didn’t know he was black until he told me.  Perhaps I am not that observant.   I didn’t know what it was like to live with racism or cultural stereotypes until we adopted Addie and luckily for us it has been few and far between.  Usually, it has been from well meaning people just saying thoughtless things.  It cracks me up that people just assume that because Addie is Asian she is smart, good at math and a virtuoso on the violin.  She is really smart, but she has lazy stupid white parents who aren’t going to push her that hard.  It’s kind of like our own nature vs. nurture experiment.  I know she is going to have to deal with things that will hurt her feelings and make her sad and I can’t change that. I just pray that I will have the blessing from God to only have to try to protect her from hateful words and ignorant attitudes and not a bullet from a vigilante’s gun.