Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dear Mr. President

Headnotes:  *1  I finished this article Saturday.  On This Week today, Sunday, July 21, someone finally said Travon Martin also had a right to stand his ground, or at least to use it as a defense had he been the one who survived. 

**2  There are multiple pieces posted on Facebook about black on white crimes, resulting in death, that are not getting the attention of the Travon Martin death.  One of these was a babe in arms.  Have we grown so used to black on white crime that we are immune to it?  Why is there no white outrage?  Because it is politically incorrect for whites to express it, but politically correct for blacks and others to protest white on black crime?

I am a Caucasian American great grandmother who listened to your remarks trying to explain why African Americans feel as they do concerning the Zimmerman trial verdict.  There are so many reasons why we did not need to hear your words.  There is an element in our country that is deeply prejudiced and nothing you or I can say will change them.  But, Mr. President, most of us are trying to make relationships between the various cultures work.

First, let me say that I voted for you in both elections.  I have not agreed with you one hundred per cent of the time and since I write this political blog, I generally say so.  Yet, I've made a continual ass of myself defending you to my conservative family and friends.  To my liberal Democratic acquaintances, no defense has been necessary.

Second, may I vehemently state that it is not just African Americans who are upset with this verdict.  Perhaps it might be wise to explain this stance by eliminating race for the moment.  Let's refer to the bias in this case as hoodie bias.  Don't laugh.  It is quite real and supported by television characterization.  There are signs on many store entrances saying "no hoodies allowed".  For warmth on cold, snowy days, I sometimes wear hoodies.  I have to pull down my hood in order to enter just like a young teenager, black or white.

Now that we have hypothetically eliminated race, let's examine what else was wrong with the verdict.  Mr. Zimmerman presents as a type of person I call a "hot dog."  Such hot dogs are attracted to the police force and/or neighborhood watches for the chase scenes and the power they can experience from the positions, rather than to serve and protect.  Mr. Zimmerman had the additional misfortune of being a frustrated, "wannabe" officer.  Now he has to focus all his power and chase desires on his neighborhood watch program.

Zimmerman happens to live in a state that will license residents to carry concealed.  Liberal Democrat though I tend to be, I happen to believe that is a good thing, not bad.  Mr. Zimmerman becomes licensed to carry concealed.  Now we have a frustrated wannabe cop licensed to carry concealed.  His enthusiasm for his power has not ebbed at all in the process.  The protection of the gun has increased that power. 

From what I have read and heard, during training he was taught he should not get out of the car.  Any suspicious activity was to be reported to the police department and he was trained to let the officers handle it.  In addition, there was a transcript of the dispatcher interacting with him that night.  The dispatcher apparently told him to stand down and let the police take over.

Zimmerman was not satisfied with these instructions.  Now our hot dog watchman took matters into his own hands.  He disobeyed orders and jumped out of the car.  He set up his chase scene and became the aggressor.  You know, I probably would have attempted to neutralize Zimmerman, myself, had he been following me.  (And, yes, it would happen to me.  Our own overly aggressive watchmen tailgated me as I returned from work just before ten p.m.  They were in a huge truck.  I was in a little Ford Escort hatchback.  It was a frightening situation.  I turned around and followed them).  He deserved it when Mr. Martin turned on him.  It doesn't matter whether Travon Martin was black, Asian, Caucasian or Hispanic.  (*1)  Travon Martin had a right to stand his ground and defend himself as well.  Has a single individual said that Travon had that right?  Everybody seems concerned only about Mr. Zimmerman's rights.

Now, let's reintroduce race to the equation.  All you people out there don't understand that Travon Martin was afraid?  You don't understand the history of African Americans in the South?  You don't know of the black Americans who have been beaten, hung, pulled behind cars, killed any number of ways?  You or I would have been afraid when some unknown individual began aggressively chasing us, much less Travon.   

It doesn't matter who Travon Martin was the day before this event or who he would have been the day after.  That night he was a teenage kid walking home from the grocery store, carrying a cell phone and a soda -- and some nut job started chasing him down.

It is my belief that Zimmerman should have been convicted.  So, he was afraid for his life at the last minute.  So was Travon Martin.

To Travon's family I would like to say this.  Your son does not belong just to the African American community anymore.  He's one of mine, now, too.  I'm sure a lot of us white folk feel that way.  Your son could have been Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, or African American as he was.  He was the victim of a needy man who just had to exert his importance and his power over others.

This leads toward the end of this letter, Mr. President.  There is something we need from the African American community to help us make these race relations work.  (**2)  We need for every interaction between us to cease being evaluated as racist or not racist.  We need each event to be evaluated without the race card being played first.  Then, once we have discerned the truth without race, we will be better able to factor in that bias. 

We also need African Americans to stop saying things on television like "We need to stop this black on black crime," as if black on Asian or black on white crime is okay.

We need for all African Americans to understand that it isn't just black kids that cause us to lock our doors.  Any kid eyeing us or our purses gets the same treatment.  But when it is a black kid that hears the locks click, many of us have very real reasons for doing so.  It wasn't a white, Asian or Hispanic man that held a gun in my face, demanded my purse and threatened to shoot if I screamed.  It is not a white woman that apparently keeps trying to get my credit card number.  It's the same black fifty something one every time.

It takes both sides working together to eliminate the walls between us.  Our generation did not enslave African Americans, yet we take the rage from it.  Most of us are trying to make it up.  Please lend us a helping hand in the process.

Racism is, indeed, a two-way street.  We whites just aren't politically correct if we express our concerns to you.  We have to remain silent.  Well, now I have spoken.  Does that make me racist, too?


Lou Hough

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