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Bring on the Outrage and Change the Laws for Us All

July 25, 2013 4 comments
When I was a kid...

When I was a kid…

After the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, I noticed posts from people who were upset about a perceived lack of outrage regarding the death of children that did not appear to receive national attention. I asked myself, “Is this what it comes to? Using one child’s senseless death to belittle another’s?” So far, I’ve read three sad, heartbreaking stories. I’ve seen three types of postings of white children where the poster is asking, “Where is the outrage?” They were posted and liked by people who don’t understand. They don’t understand what it’s like to explain to their son that they might not return from a candy store, school or the movies. They don’t understand what it would be like to consider that their baby might be perceived as dangerous. They’ve never had to have the “racism talk” with their child, yet there are those who have had the racism talk with their children and understand the implications of it – all too well.

There is no doubt that people do become upset over a child’s death. Sadly, this fact is proven time and time again. Whether it’s a mass killing or an individual killing – every life matters and the taking of any child’s life is especially tragic. So I was compelled to check for updates regarding the three different postings of murdered children. It did not take long, even though one posting only provided the child’s first name. I found her and the others too, because there was public outrage. There was community involvement. However, their cases haven’t come to trial yet. Their killers are still in jail. This is why there is increased outrage and solidarity by our communities regarding Trayvon Martin. He was just a kid who went to the store and cut through the neighbor’s yards on the way home. I can’t tell you how many times I did that as kid, and I’d bet you’ve done the same. Yet, we survived our childhood. Even though most of us never had the talk with our parents about racism and how it could kill you. That’s because a white child’s odds of survival are better than a black child’s odds.

So if you’re truly outraged, open your minds and change the laws. Open your minds to understand what it would be like to be in another parent’s shoes. Consider what it would be like if the children and men in your family were at an increased risk. Then do what you would do if this was your reality and bring on the outrage and change the laws for all of our children. Fight to increase funding for education and after-school programs. Fight for the homeless and the hungry. Fight child-trafficking. Fight the proliferation of prisons. Fight voter disenfranchisement. Fight for a living wage. Fight for universal background checks for guns. Fight systemic biases. Fight for equal opportunity. This is just a start, but advocating for these causes will benefit us all. Hopefully, fostering greater understanding will bring our communities together and provide a safer and just world for all of our children.

“But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

… And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

… And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that to be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.”

-President Obama, July 19, 2013

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