As the Trayvon Martin verdict was read, our family sat in silence. I’m not at home so I held the phone with my 14 year old son as we awaited the verdict. When we heard “not guilty”, his silence was deafening and he hung up the phone. He would go on to call me back several times, each time hanging up immediately. My son, who normally displays minimal emotion, was deeply entranced by this case since the news broke originally. He is not a hugger. Tonight he needed one…bad.
My mind is racing like many of you. All that I keep coming back to is the dangers of profiling and not just against young unarmed black boys but against anyone.
Profiling is prevalent in the african american male community. My older brother, who serves in the military, was pulled over on his way back to base in Louisiana. His car would be searched thoroughly before they let him go. We call this, DWB, driving while black. It happens everyday.
How many times have you walked beside a “strange character” and grabbed your purse a little tighter? I’ll admit that I’ve done it but I had no idea until my son pointed it out tonight.
Profiling is about making assumptions. The kid with “swagger” is assumed to be one way upon entrance into a classroom only to actually be entirely different. Kids profile kids. They judge each other’s worth by economic status, athletic ability, social grouping and sometimes even race.
When I talked to my son, this is what we spoke about…the crippling realities of profiling.
He asked me how to avoid being profiled. I told him that he can’t change his race. If someone is going to judge him based on that, he could not avoid it. What he could do was to avoid doing things like walking around at night, which we don’t allow anyway. He could not sag his pants. He could not wear “gangster” clothing. He could avoid driving a car that he looks like he can’t afford. His reply was, “So basically, no matter what people will judge me”.
Yes, Khalil, people WILL judge you. YOU will judge people. You won’t try to but you will and by doing so you will add to a fundamental problem within our society.
This is what this case taught me. The verdict was inevitable. In a few weeks, it’ll be on to the next as we all do. GZ will always be known by the actions that he took…going back to the dangers of profiling…
The lesson here is this…
We serve an injustice to us all when we rush to judgement without knowing the person underneath.