She Is Not Trayvon Martin And Neither Am I

9 Apr

I never considered myself an activist for racial justice, but maybe somehow, especially with the start of this blog, I’m becoming, or going to become one.  I’ve never marched for racial justice.  I have, however,  spoken up on a personal level, to friends or acquaintances when I hear something that stereotypes or is a blatantly racist remark about black people, and other people of color.  I think I’ve done that even more than I have spoken up when people in my presence have made a derogatory comment about Jews (my religion).

With all that’s going on at the moment, race relations has come out from behind closed doors; has bubbled up to the surface.  There’s the growing conservative front out to make sure we don’t re-elect a Black President, there’s the shootings this past weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where three African-American men were killed by two white, male shooters, and at the epicenter, is the fight for justice in the Trayvon Martin killing.

I saw the video below, posted by The Root, and connected with what this young, white woman says about a white person not having the right to wear a t-shirt that says I AM TRAYVON MARTIN or I AM TROY DAVIS.  As a human being who is white, and who wants to support racial justice, I still knew that I didn’t have the right to post the I AM TRAYVON MARTIN statement on my Facebook page, like a number of my friends who are black did.  I am not black, and cannot claim the injustices that have been done to people who are black.  I can empathize.  I can show support.  I can have a voice, and rally support for justice, but I am not Trayvon Martin and neither is the “little white girl” (as she calls herself) in the video.

I cringe when the girl says “a more accurate t-shirt that I should wear on my white body is, I AM GEORGE ZIMMERMAN,”  because, she says, of the way society has indoctrinated white people to believe young, black men are a danger to us.  I want to get defensive, and say, “but I personally was not raised this way by my parents.”  They told me not to judge others by the color of their skin.  Yet, I know on a subconscious level, the greater society, the media, the education system, the entertainment industry, and more, has fed all of us generalizations and stereotypical portrayals of blacks, and other minorities.  It’s also perpetuated the idea that white people are natural leaders in all areas of life.  And, worse, still, has not given a voice to, or taught us in our schools, the stories and achievements, or individualistic pursuits of people who are black.

The girl in the video seems to have experience with organized social activism.  She certainly has a passionate belief system.  Let me know what you think of what she has to say.

2 Responses to “She Is Not Trayvon Martin And Neither Am I”

  1. Manny April 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Ironically, the day that I saw this video I had been discussing the exact same sentiment with a friend of mine in conversation. Basically that WE, as Americans both black and white, are products of what I would consider social engineering. Our educational system, be it intentional or unintentional, at minimum subconsciously embeds into our society our impressions on race. For example, the educational institution feeds us a perspective of US history as such. The European descendants were explorers, brave conquerors, humanitarians—in that they civilized the Native Americans and rescued the Africans from the horrid conditions of their homeland by bring them across the Atlantic to enslave them. It does not take a PhD in psychology to make the connection here. Children internalize this and strong impressions are made. And how does it make a black child feel when all he/she is told about is its ancestors served and toiled for white folks? Likewise how does the white child look at that black child? And what is the opinion of the white child who sees these heroes that look like them? What is this impact?
    We are all afflicted by this at least subconsciously. And until and unless some real efforts around educating one another and understanding these impacts are addressed we will continue on our current path. In my opinion it is not enough to say, ‘well I don’t think/act in that way’. Unless one is educated and confronts this ‘conditioning’ there is the premise of prejudging a person solely on the color or hue of their skin. How petty is that?
    So the young girls point is valid and I share it. There has to be some education and the predisposition of most whites, is closer to Zimmerman than Trayvon. I wish I didn’t feel this way and I wish I were wrong. However I can’t possibly say otherwise when all around me points to just that—no matter how much I wish it were not true.

    • Wendy Jane April 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts, Manny. I agree, that there needs to be education, dialogue, and more, to dismantle all the internalized perceptions we have about race. What do you think are the ways we can do this? What are the forums for doing so? Thanks, again.

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