A couple of days ago I posted a picture of an anti-Obama election sticker that read “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012.” When I posted it I left commentary that said racism wasn’t dead. One of my high school teachers responded back by saying, “This speaks more to the idiot in the vehicle than racism. Remember, you can’t fix stupid.” I needed that reminder. You see idiots like that honestly don’t bother me. The unexposed who think all black people act like the ones you see in an overproduced rap video don’t bother. I’d even say fat, paranoid, overzealous, self-loathing bastards who appoint themselves neighborhood watch captains don’t bother me. Idiots with bumper stickers don’t scare me; it’s the idiots with power and titles that do.
As the mother of a 12-year-old, black boy, I know some idiot is going to find my honor roll student who made a perfect score on the Georgia State Writing Exam and has never gotten in trouble a day in his life suspicious just because he’s black, and that doesn’t scare me. I know the chances of my sweet, loving and kind son being called everything but a child of God by some idiot, and that doesn’t scare me. I even know the possibility of my son being harmed or assaulted simply because he was born with beautiful, brown skin, and that doesn’t scare me. What scares me is the thought of my son being injured or killed and nothing gets done about it because the idiot with the bumper sticker is now the idiot with a badge. What I’m afraid of is my son getting sick and dying because the idiot with the bumper sticker is now the idiot passing legislation that is denying my son healthcare or making it too expensive to afford. What I’m afraid of are the idiots with power who are constantly, consistently and subliminally whispering to my son, through legislation, through images, and through actions, that his life is worthless and not to be respected.
Today, after listening to the 911 tapes and reading the account from Trayvon’s girlfriend, who he was on the phone with him when Zimmerman accosted and murdered him, all I could do was cry. I cried because that could’ve easily been my son, who I have managed to shield from the white elephant that is America’s racism. I cried because that could’ve been my students who are already beaten down by society by the time they reach me in the 9th and 10th grades. I cried because it was Trayvon Martin who not only had his life stolen by an idiot with a gun, but subsequently had his life deemed worthless by an idiot with a badge. I cried because so many of my acquaintances who don’t share my hue don’t seem to understand or even care that this child’s life meant nothing to Sanford Police Department. I cried because I desperately want more people who don’t look like me to be on the front lines of this battle with us. I cried because I thought that my parents and grandparents had fought these battles. While I knew things weren’t perfect, I never thought that people who looked like me would be so close back to being less than a person. I cried because I’m tired of the battle already, and I have yet to even walk onto the battlefield yet.