Why are you people so angry?

One of the greatest things about social media is that it allows cross cultural dialogues and exchanges to happen, the downside though is that sometimes people in a place of privilege get tired of hearing the unprivileged folks vent. This point was brought home a few days ago as a fellow tweep on Twitter mentioned terms he was adding to his filter as he was sick and tired of hearing the talk about said topics. The terms included Zimmerman and Martin. While there plenty of white folks that care as deeply about the Trayvon Martin case as Black folks, there are many more who think that sucks, but oh well. Let’s be honest for many if it’s not their kids or family members that live with a potential bull’s-eye on their back, it can be hard to be vested in these cases. Of course that’s part of why true change never happens, it’s why despite being 2012 and all the so-called progress with regards to race the sad fact is we are going backwards.

That point was made clear to me today as I dealt with life and the tax man, when a few stories ran across my radar. To be honest, I had no intention of blogging, but after watching this first story, I knew I had to vent in this space. Frankly fellow blogger Renee over at Womanist Musings wrote a great piece that demands that you read it. However knowing that people hate clicking links, I am adding the video at the end of this post and will give you the quick and dirty version. Over in Sweden, as part of World Art Day celebrations, a cake was made shaped to look like an African woman and representing female genital mutilation and to really just be offensive as shit we had the artist in Black face at the head of the cake as the head of the woman moaning and yelling as party goers including Sweden’s Minister of Culture and others delightfully cut into the cake and enjoyed themselves. Um….you didn’t think that shit was offensive on any levels. Just cut into a cake representing a woman being hurt, a Black woman complete with someone in Black face moaning and yelling and no one has the good sense to be offended or disturbed. Alright now.

Closer to home, a six year old child who happens to be Black threw a temper tantrum at school and apparently little Salecia Johnson was so scary that the cops had to be called. Well the cops decided this girl was so scary that she deserved to be handcuffed. Just another day in Black America, our kids get shot and killed when all they are trying to do is get home with the Skittles and iced tea to catch a basketball game. They go to school and have behavioral issues but rather than seeking help, we think it’s alright to handcuff em.

It’s stories like this that make me feel helpless, so helpless that from my cozy perch here in Maine, all I can do is bring awareness to these incidents. Thankfully social media makes that possible and yes, I do get angry and yeah, I probably do bring down your mood, but until we live in a world where all people get the respect they deserve as human beings, I will not stop being mad. Instead I hope as you look at your loved ones you will join me in getting mad so we can create that world where all our friends and loved ones are safe. Where angry white men (or that’s what they call themselves) won’t decide to take out their anger on any old Black person and shoot and kill people just trying to live life.

Our choices and the deck we play

When we enter this world, no matter who we are or where we are born, we are dealt a deck of cards; that deck of cards we are receive at birth often will determine the life we lead years later. Granted there are always the outliers who break the mold but by and large the hand we are dealt will serve as a reminder in our adult years that life is not fair, equal or just.

Let’s see, in that deck of cards we are served upon arriving earth side, is a gender card, a race card, a nationality card, a religion card (now this one of the few cards that upon adulthood, we can choose to swap out or completely discard) and a socio-economic card. In a fair and just world, that deck of cards would be meaningless but the fact is that deck of cards matter very much.

Years later, we often have to make choices, yet the very choices we make in our lives is actually determined by a deck of cards that we were dealt that we had no choice in choosing. I mean, it’s not as if we can pick up our cards and swap out being a poor person for being a wealthy one. The issue of choice and how free we are to make choices came to mind this morning as I read the hubbub surrounding Ann Romney, the wife of the presumed GOP nominee for president. Seems Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist made a comment that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life, Ann came back out swinging taking to the social media airwaves that she has worked very hard raising 5 kids and that was the choice she made.

To be fair here Hilary Rosen was an ass, raising kids is hard work, regardless of if you are wiping your ass with $100 bills. I mean shit, 5 kids is 5 kids! That said, Ann Romney is being a tad disingenuous, let’s face it Ann married well, and that choice created an environment that allowed her to make the choices she has made. By all accounts or at least the good folks of Wikipedia, Ann wasn’t exactly born into a poor family, nope access to good private schools created the situation where she had access to others from pretty decent families.

In a society that likes to live in a fantasy world that we are all created equal and have access to the same opportunities, I am frankly getting tired of this farce. The reality is we do have choices but the choices we get to make are determined in many parts by factors that we don’t get to control.

In the days and weeks since Trayvon Martin was killed, some have stated that if only he hadn’t worn a hoodie he would still be alive. Come now… a child’s decision to wear a hoodie did not play a role in his death. Racism, bigotry, and bias are choices we as a society have made that decides to see certain people as perpetrators no matter what they are doing. Frankly, I think Trayvon could have been wearing a tuxedo and George Zimmerman still would have made the choice he made which was to kill a young man simply for the crime of walking down the street nervous because a strange man in a large car was following him.

In the end, we all make choices, we have too, its part of this experience we call living life but let’s not kid ourselves that we all have the ability to make the same choices because we don’t. Who and what we are shape the decisions and choices we make.

Trayvon 2012…stop the assault on brown and black boys

I have said it before but I am going to say it again, while raising kids in general is hard, it’s a job that is a lot harder when you are raising boys of color in the US. When raising a young man of color, it’s almost as if you are doing so with that double consciousness that W.E.B DuBois spoke of so many years ago. For me that meant raising my now 20 year old with a parental mindset but sadly with the knowledge that one day he would not be seen as just a kid but that he will be seen as a potential suspect. I am sure for some of you that very concept may seem strange but to anyone raising a young man of color, you are probably nodding your head.

Four years ago, when my son 16 one early evening he took a walk down to the local convenience snack shop to grab a bite to eat, nothing extraordinaire about that fact. Hell, teenagers often go out to grab a bite to eat! Well my son grabbed a steak and cheese sandwich and an iced tea and proceeded to walk back home as he had done many times before. However not even a block away from the store a cop stopped him, demanding to see what was in hands and then proceeded to tell him he looked like a suspect they were looking for who had been burglarizing cars. Before he knew it, he was in the back of the cop car and being driven home by the cops who wanted to talk to his parents. Never mind that my son wasn’t at my house fulltime, my son by then knew to say very little, he stated his name and the fact he was 16. Well the local cop pulled up in our driveway but not before implying that he was dubious that my son really lived where he said he did.

As fate would have it, I was out at a meeting so the Spousal Unit opened the door and quickly proceeded to ask the cop what the hell was he doing and also explaining he did not appreciate him harassing our son. In the end the cop apologized but not before the hubster expressed that he was dubious of the cop which resulted in the cop telling the hubster that he was friends with people of all races.

By the time I got home and the story was shared with me, I was ready to go to the police station to tear a new asshole in the captain and everyone else. My son asked me to let it go, but as a mother that situation disturbed me. What if this wasn’t a smaller town and the cop was trigger happy? I would have come home to a dead 16 year old son. Of course as the years have gone on, my son has had many more run ins with police both in New England and the Midwest. Never any charges but always the you look suspicious charge. Once driving back to his Dad’s from college he was stopped two times on the same drive. Sad to say if you think what my son faces is an isolated incident you couldn’t be more mistaken.

Fast forward to Trayvon Martin, a teenager in Florida visiting his Dad who decided to go to the convenience store and sadly never made it home. It seems after picking up some Skittles for a sibling and an iced tea, Trayvon crossed paths with the neighborhood watch leader that felt a teenage boy armed with skittles and an iced tea was so dangerous he had to pull out his 9mm gun and George Zimmerman the watch leader shot him dead. Zimmerman claims that he and Trayvon got into a scuffle and that he feared for his safety so much so that he had to shoot a child.

Let me say that having been the mother of a teenage boy that while on the surface they may look big, the fact is one good look at their faces generally reveals the child they really are and why in 2012 couldn’t Zimmerman pick up the phone and call 911?

Trayvon’s story is starting to get out but let me ask where’s the outrage? What happened to Trayvon is not that unique other than the fact normally it’s the police that harm young men of color, in this case we have an overzealous community member who decided to take the law into his own hands. Frankly when I heard what happened to Trayvon my blood ran cold because I could easily see Trayvon as my own boy. Just a boy going out and doing what kids do.

Last week the world was on fire about Joseph Kony with the whole Kony2012 campaign and while what happened to the children in Uganda is an outrage and Kony needs to be caught what about the kids in our own country? Every day brown and black boys in this country are under assault, from cops that would gladly lock our boys up to teachers who deny their humanity and slap an ill-fitting label on them.

I say we need Trayvon2012, stop the brutality against brown and black boys in this country and stop it now. Look in the mirror and face our own internal biases that allow us to look at the brown and black boys close to us as monsters and realize that it is systematic racism that allows this to happen.

So let me add Trayvon2012 to Kony2012 to bring awareness to the plight of boys of color in this country.

PS: The suspect the cops were looking when they stopped my son turned out to be a good 6 inches shorter and several shades lighter.