General Snobbery
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No Apologies: On The Killing of Trayvon Martin And Being "Good"

In the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, there's no safe place. There's no real excuse to cling to. None of the usual dismissals work or fit. It's just bad. Real bad. And sits there and stares at you with it's cruelty and unfairness and ugliness and says, "Take this."

Take this load. And pick it up.

Just take it. And accept it. And choke back the lumps in your throat. As it has happened before. And it will happen again. And again you will be told to "take this."

Take this burden and just accept it as your burden. It's just "how it is." You're all statistics. Take these statistics. And black people get shot everywhere everyday by everyone. Police. Non-police. Crazy people. Bigots. Their parents. Other kids. Just take it. It's part of your Life In America, Black People. Accept this tragedy and go through the motions of appealing to people's decency and demanding justice and having protests and press conferences and crying and asking why and demanding answers and then eventually getting that bad dead cold thing that just sits there and says, "Take this."

Here's your load. Pick it up.

Pass it along to the children, so they can carry a bit of it too. Let it weigh down on their worlds. Let it rob them of their childhood and innocence. Tell them to take it, so they grow up faster and accept the unfairness in life and just give up. Be cynical and fatalistic. Be cold when it happens to the next person. Or be cold themselves when they do it to another person. And as they rob that person of what was once robbed of themselves and that person asks them why or looks for recourse or retribution or answers, they can stare back unblinking in the shadow of our common oppressors and say, "Take this load and pick it up."

But I'm sorry. I'm not going to pick up this shit anymore. It's not mine.

A long, long time ago when I was young my parents told me I had to be the best to make it in this world. Averageness was something only the white and the male could afford and as a black woman, I was neither. You had to take pride in how you dress and how you spoke and how you behaved. You had to be "good," because good things happen to those who are good and bad things happen to those who are bad. And that's the lie your parents tell you because no one should tell the truth to you when you're that young. You really don't need to know. Otherwise you'd never bother.

Who wants to deal with someone already jaded at age six?

And so I was good. I was so very good. I didn't curse. I got good grades. I've never been in a fight in my life. The one time I got Saturday detention was because I was chronically late for a third period class in an over-crowded school where the only time you could go to your locker was during lunch to switch out books for the second half of the day and my locker was on one end of the crowded school, far from the other.

My teacher didn't believe me when I told her I couldn't leave lunch, go to my locker, then wade through the hallway crammed with kids to make it on my class on time.

She told me I was lying. She said she walked it once just to see what I was talking about and timed herself. But since she had to be in class waiting for me and other students, I highly doubted she did that at the height of the lunch rush.

It didn't matter that I loved my Spanish class and was an A student and never caused trouble and had no reputation for someone who would ever be tardy for anything as I was obsessed with being "good." She just didn't believe me. My mother had to get involved and my locker was eventually moved to a place easier for me to navigate to.

I was never late for third period Spanish again. No one apologized.

That same year, the eighth grade, my history teacher moved my seat in the front of the class to the back with a pair of boys who harassed me, teased me and made trouble with me every day. Then, because I'm near-sighted, my vision worsened and I needed new glasses. I couldn't read the blackboard. I told my teacher of both, the harassment and the inability to see.

He, oddly, agreed I was being harassed, but thought I was "weak" to complain. As for my inability to see, he told me I was lying.

Even though I wore glasses. We got a doctor's note from my optometrist that I needed new glasses and should sit up front until they were ready.

The teacher suddenly decided everyone in the class could sit where ever they wanted. 

He never apologized. 

My mother, far more blunt than I, called it what it was. I was black. My teachers were white. The school was mostly white. It was racism. Even though all my teachers, even the jerk ones, thought I was a bright and talented student who was polite and respectful. They would lose my extra credit homework on purpose rather than add it towards my grade, lest I test higher than whoever they would always hope would beat me when the boys would play the girls in History Bingo.

But as annoying as all this was for me. For other kids in my public school experience it was far worse. Boys who defended themselves when picked on by bullying the school ignored until it got to a breaking point? Suspended. Kids who fought back or spoke up when they were being picked on, abused, harassed or marginalized? Sent to the "alternative school."

But see? In my child mind, I tried to rationalize this. They were "bad" because the talked back or actually hit their tormentors. I was "good" because I took the abuse. And my "goodness" was rewarded in that I graduated in the top 25 percent of my class, but was still judged with the same suspicion all black kids were judged by at my school.

What difference really was there between I and my peers who had dropped out or wound up in halfway houses or jail other than I picked up the load and just thought about Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr. the whole time? I picked up the load and they wouldn't. But who could ever want that load of shit? The only difference was I still believed goodness would be rewarded. If we all, as a people, were just "good" they'd have to stop accusing us of lying, assuming we were "bad" or criminals or ignorant. W.E.B. DuBois and the Talented Tenth and lead by example and all that rose colored lens malarky.

That if we're just "good" we'll be safe. If your son doesn't listen to hip hop, goes to the church camp, gets A's and Bs in school, is polite, says "sir" and "ma'am," if he's a good kid, he'll be safe. That's the bargain black parents make with their children.

If you are "good" the gangs and the violence and the racism won't get you. You will be safe. You will live to see 25. You will have a great life. Opportunity will abound for you. We will be proud of you. The community will be proud of you. You will be Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and life will be beautiful if you just want it enough.

Just be "good." Be good, Trayvon Martin. Stay in school. Listen to your parents. And you'll be safe.

But that's a lie. No one came make you safe. No one can save you for that day some sick person just decides you're the bad guy because you're black and carrying a bottle of ice tea and some Skittles and he self-appointed himself neighborhood watch and some black teenage boys aren't good, therefore ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT GOOD. And you are a black person. And you're a boy. And you had on a "hooded sweatshirt." So, you're dead now.

You lose.

Sorry. You didn't follow the rules. It wasn't good enough to be "good." Why didn't you just apologize to that man for existing as he had you on the ground, gun pointed at you? Say you were sorry for being born black and apologize for all the black people in the past who may have ever thought of robbing that neighborhood or doing whatever things George Zimmerman, 28, thought black people in Sanford, Fla. were doing in his neighborhood.

Maybe if you'd just taken it and accepted that it's Zimmerman's world and only his comfort matters and not yours, you would have got it. Maybe your parents could have been more paranoid. Kept you locked up in the house until you turned 25 (gotta keep you from being a statistic). And then ...

And then ... What? Then what?

If you have a child, what do you tell them? Especially him. What do you tell him? How do you tell him as his mother or his father or his grandmother or grandfather that you, the person he loves and trusts and believes in more than anyone in the world, that you can keep him safe? How does he believe you now? He knows you're full of shit now. He's on Facebook. He's heard and read about Trayvon. Someone who looked like him. Someone who was "good." How do you tell him that if he just stays in school and is "good" it will be OK? How do you tell him to handle something like this? Not a cop, just some guy. Some crazy self-appointed neighborhood watch guy with a gun who thought he was Batman that night? If you're a good parent you tell your kid that if some guy, some scary guy is following them, you tell him to run and if he can't run, to defend himself. Bad men in cars to terrible things to children and teens. You tell your son, if you can't run, if you can't get help, do whatever you have to do to stay alive. Fight, run, call out for help, make yourself trouble. Go down fighting, if you're going down. Don't do the thing the stranger in the car with the gun wants you to do.

But that doesn't keep you safe.

And the cops are so worried about how Zimmerman feels and thinks -- and their precious "Kill Your Neighbors" laws, but not how a 17-year-old would react to a stranger following him in his car at night. Not how anyone in Trayvon's situation would react.

I know how I, as a 5-foot-3-inch woman, would react to some strange man following me in a car.

The cops say maybe Trayvon would have done something "differently" if he could do it over again.

Do what? Not be born black in America where black men are viewed with suspicion no matter their age?

People, and by people I mostly mean our society as a whole, tells us that if we just do the right things and follow the rules we will be safe and our kids will be safe. But these things are lies. The onus is not on the victim to wear a longer skirt when she goes out on night. It's on the guy who thinks it's OK to rape her.

The impetus is not on the kid walking home from the 7-11. But on the self-proclaimed, gun-wielding, one-man-neighborhood watch, calling the Sanford Police more than 40 times in the last year. It is not Trayvon's job, or your job or my job to make bigots feel more comfortable with us because there is no way to get their comfort. It is a lie.

No amount of goodness will fix it.

You could get rid of every thing that has ever made you feel embarrassed, every black person you ever felt fulfilled a stereotype. It doesn't matter. Because racism is illogical. Bigotry does not need a reason to fear and act on that fear with violence. There is no different clothing you could wear. There is no different accent you could take on. There is no grades you could get that could change them. Because it doesn't matter.

We can't Jackie Robinson our way out of this. Some people just want to hate you. And they don't want to change. But they really enjoy you going through the gymnastics trying -- because it takes the weight off them.

Don't apologize -- Because it doesn't matter.

In St. Louis, my hometown, folks in the county would say, it wasn't that they didn't like black people it was the "quality" of the black people. Why? If it were Cosby-esque doctors and lawyers moving in next door in the suburbs they'd feel just fine.

Then, when my family and tons of other black professional families moved to the 'burbs, they fled to O'Fallon and St. Charles anyway

But you said doctors and lawyers were "OK?" I guess bigots lie. It wasn't really about the "right" kind of black people. Ha ha. You were "good" too, weren't you? Cute. Didn't mean anything. Didn't mean a damn thing.

My favorite book, Invisible Man, tells of Anonymous and there is a letter in that story that haunts me as it haunted the unnamed narrator that says "keep this nigger boy running."

And that's what they do to us. They keep us running. They keep telling us it is us. That if we just made ourselves a little different, it would all go away. If we're just good. 

And then, in our goodly and true lives, they give back to us the corpse of a 17-year-old boy and say --

Take this.

Pick it up.

Before Trayvon's murder. Before now. Before I was even 25. I realized it didn't matter what I did. It didn't matter what any of us did. And so I decided, I was just going to live my life, however I saw fit. And that was my protest to an unfair world. That I didn't care about their "rules" anymore, whomever "they" may be, because their rules were lies. I would be good to those who were good to me. I'd do what was right for myself and those I loved. I wasn't going to be ashamed of who I am because it might check a stereotypical box.

Still, though. I wondered. 

A woman, much older than I, who I've known most of my life, used to say "I feel like my purpose in life is to make white people mad." I used to think that what she said sounded really silly. She was born under Jim Crow (hence her tendency to talk of white people as if they're monolithic) and was a long-time housewife. All she'd ever done was marry a nice guy and have lovely children. She'd lived a quiet, sweet sort of life, isolated from most of the drama anyone -- white or black -- ever has to deal with. I thought the statement was awkward and short-sighted and weird. I would smirk and brush it off. What the hell was that supposed to mean? You're not Angela Davis, I'd think. No one is shaking in their boots at night, worried about the fur coat wearing black housewives of Florissant, Mo.

Then, in a conversation with a friend of mine, Dr. Jason Johnson, I told him of what she said and he actually argued my pampered housewife had a point.

To paraphrase: "When you really think about it," he said. "What she did ... falling in love, getting married, staying at home and raising her children ... that's not what she and her ancestors were brought to this country to do. We weren't brought here to go to college, fall in love, get married and live our lives. We were brought here to work and live the lives others wanted us to have."

Jason said our lives as free people is a protest to this society that criminalizes a boy just for being black.

Our love for each other. Our community. Our friendships. Our bonds are a form of protest.

Because we aren't doing what we were brought here to do.

To this end, I say, if you ever thought about not doing, loving, saying, being something that you wanted to be because you were worried about what "society" would think, stop thinking that way. There is nothing you can actually do. All you can do is live your life in the most honest way possible. Be good to those who are good to you. Love whole-heartedly. Care for your friends and family. Follow your dreams. You can't waste any bit of your short, precious time on this Earth worrying about what some unknown bigot thinks.

Or what anyone thinks.

Because it is beyond your control.

And there is no path that promises your child will be safe. And this is the world that we live in. But you don't have to accept anything.

Not. One. Damn. Thing.

And you don't have to take that load and just accept the racism and injustice and crime and rape and murder in our world. Nobody owns you. They can't make you accept that tragedy as just "part of your life."

When the murderer pulls out the gun and takes a life and puts it back on you. You say no, you murderer. That's your load. Pick it up.

You did it. Deal with the consequences. Whatever those may be.

Us and our children are not picking it up anymore.

No apologies.

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Reader Comments (140)

Very wise words and well said.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBernadette

5'3"! I'll say it again; You are a steppin' walkin' razor! Don't you watch my size!; I'm dangerous!
Truth is dangerous. Keep being dangerous!

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobertM

I am a privileged white woman who has worked as a summer camp counselor then teacher with "at risk" kids (or whatever euphemism you want to use) for over 20 years. In the past I have worked with all races but for the last five years I've been teaching in all-Black schools on Chicago's south side. I recently married a (wonderful) Black man and am now pregnant. I have talked with my students for years about these issues but always had an "out" in that I knew their parents had the first and final responsibility and power to shape their worldview. Now I'm going to be the parent of a biracial (seen as Black by society) child and it fills me with questions that are newly intense. My husband has a daughter from a previous marriage and he definitely raised her along the lines you describe - thinking she always has to be extra-good to counteract potential bigotry. I was shocked and dismayed when I read her college entrance essay, in which she talked about exactly that - trying to be extra-perfect so she could "represent her race" well. (She gained early acceptance at a prestigious East Coast WASPy liberal arts institution, so I guess it went over well with the folks there). Reading it, I felt that this perspective could only lead to undue stress and needless heartache. But I never discussed it with my husband... maybe I wasn't clear on what I would aim for instead. Reading your piece today I realize that this is a conversation I need to have with him ASAP. I don't want our child (hopefully children) to feel that they need to carry this burden - that they have to somehow be good enough to strip bigots of their bigotry. As you say that's impossible. We need to raise our child(ren) differently - the way you described in your last paragraph - without feeling that they have to "make up for" anything or apologize for anything about themselves. Thank you for really articulating this and inspiring me with a clearer vision of the alternative to the "apologetic" way. I hope my comment makes sense and conveys what an important impact you may have just had on my children's lives. Thank you.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia

You've said it all. Wonderful writing and validates all my feelings since childhood.

As a brown minority child in a white fourth grade classroom.with a white teacher, I would win all the Spelling Bees.
One particular time that I'll never forget, there was a shiny new prize to be won, I don't remember what it was now, (I must have blocked it out).

Well I won the Bee and as I waited for the prize, the teacher hemmed and hawed and stalled, finally pulling out of the closet an old dusty book and handing it to me telling me that it was a "wonderful book, that she knew I would enjoy" then she gave the shiny new prize to the runner up who was of her race.

The entire class of children, who, although white, were obviously not yet tainted, were feeling the same shock that I was. I could feel it and see it in their faces.

But you know what, her action backfired greatly on her, because those children never trusted her again, and lost all interest in her and her Spelling Bees. So much so that eventually she stopped having them, as the kids, obviously feared suffering the same consequences that I had suffered and only.

I gained the sympathy of the class and she lost it totally. But sadly, everybody loses in this type of situation.

What a pity, when love is free and we are all put on this earth to love one another and rejoice in that love...

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDesertflower

I live in Chicago. We have multiple murders in the newspaper on a daily basis.
Your article was thoughtful and articulate. As a WHITE person I too make no apologies.

I haven't lived in a time where blacks in America have less rights than whites.
My black friends tell me that blacks are more likely to have run-ins with the police, which may be true.
What happened to Trayvon Martin is very sad, but *my* being white didn't kill him.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohnson

that said, i truly wish the public reacted with this much fervor to derrion albert's death. there wasn't nearly the response this killing is getting.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterswiv

@ swiv

Very true. Although after taping her show yesterday, Michel Martin @ NPR made a really good point that a big reason for the outrage is that Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin, but wasn't arrested and isn't facing charges. As horrible as the Albert case was, at least people were arrested in charged. I think the bigger story in this one is how the police don't really want to do anything about the case, and sought evidence that fit Zimmerman's view instead of being impartial. That gave everyone Emmett Till flashbacks, hence all the outrage.

March 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterDanielle Belton

Thank you for this. It is frightening to realize how alike the upbringing of a black girl in a mostly white public school in St. Louis so closely mimics my experiences in a prestigious mostly white prep school.

It just goes to show you that the "isms" we face are universal, and you're absolutely right, we don't have to take it.

Well written, amazing job. Inspired

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurvyintheCity

So profound and though provoking that I am at a loss for words other than these..."Well done. Very, very well done".

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEngla A. Gray

Thanks for writing this post. I think you'll find, though, that there is general outrage throughout the country towards George Zimmerman, and that the country is calling for justice. I only wish that justice were called for more frequently. In my perspective, it doesn't matter that Trayvon was black and Zimmerman was white/hispanic. What matters is that a grown, armed man chased down and attacked a teenager, for no reason, against the advice of the police. This situation is wrong no matter how you look at it. But I know, without a doubt, that the fact that Trayvon was black certainly influenced the situation, and I think we should absolutely call attention to the racial tensions that still exist today.

The fact also remains that the police shirked their duty (and regularly do in similar situations) to ensure that the shooter did not act out of hand. That they violated standard operating procedures, and protected someone who does not deserve protecting. That they protected an aggressor in a violent situation, simply because he was perceived as white and stated that he acted in self-defense.

I'm sorry that you've experienced such prejudices in your life, but I hope you have also been able to appreciate the people who live their lives without prejudice. I hope you know that there are people out there who want you to live your life the way you want to live it, and don't think less of you for wanting that.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Thank you.

My whole life people have told me that if I were "good" my life would be easier. They told me if I wasn't always fighting authority I would get what I wanted easier and people would like me. You have finally set out why I fight. Why I've lived as I do. I've never been able to explain it this well. I've never been able to get people to see why I take the tougher road and speak out when I feel I need to speak out. Why I'd rather lose my job or not get promoted than try to play the games and still not get promoted. I say and do what I think is right to say and do. I don't try to offend or hurt or enrage. I'd much rather get along. But sometimes I do offend and hurt and enrage because sometimes that's what we have to do.

Thank you. This essay has helped.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

This is SO very well written and made me cry while at work. People need to learn that one of the major points in life is to FEEL good. The world needs a HUGE helping of self love. #beLove2012

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLatanya Rene

No words but this far beyond literal beauty. Love it!

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKesh

Grief, just pure grief.
Your writing is an inspiration.
Thank you.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzi

I must go back to my childhood once again. I must have been between the age of 3-5 years. I will never forget this event, and I'm very positive it shaped the way I viewed my environment after discovering what really happened that day my father took my mother to the Dr. Office, the Dr. that delivered me into this world. We, my father and I, were waiting in the car of the office parking lot for my mother to return. While my father was browsing the newspaper I was looking around for something to keep me occupied. I noticed two older men maybe in their twenties seemingly playing tag. To me they were playing a game and I was very much entertained by their activity. It was humorous to me at that time as they chased each other over and under and around the car for several minutes. I remember calling my dads attention to this activity. He looked over towards them and kept browsing the paper. I could not understand why he was not amused as I was. Then, both went down on the far side over the vehicle and stayed down for what seemed to be 3 minutes. Suddenly one of the men jumped up and ran from the car drenched in red color from his neck to his abdomen. It took me 3 more years for me to figure this out, and when I figured it out I realized it was not a game at all they were playing. It was a moment of truth. From everything I heard in church, to what my teachers were telling me, and all my parents were saying, I was awakened to the cruel and evil word I was birthed into. I questioned God and all belief. "Why is this happening reflecting on all I experienced so early in life!" 'Is this what I have to expect to look forward to in the future!" I questioned God? Why was I even born here? These are questions I faced for the larger portion of my life. Until now. Now that I have the answer I find closure and appreciate what was, is , and forever was given. Thank you Father in heaven, all praise is due you for your glory and honor. I praise you for deliverance by your wisdom, strength, and might. I give you the honor forever. AMEN

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlvin Johnson

When will people realize that "Hispanic" is an ethnicity and NOT a race? George Zimmerman's father, in a sorry attempt to explain his son's crime, said that their family had a whole lot of black friends. Um...and? This caveat is always added by folks who hate someone else: "I have black friends, so I can't be a racist." "I have gay friends, so I can't be a homophobe." "I have Hispanic friends, so I can't be a xenophobe." You can have all of the above and still have hate in your heart or be someone who should have never been allowed to carry a weapon or be a neighborhood watchman.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMax Vincent

This beautiful post makes me both tearful and proud.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThank You

I understand that you are angry at the very tragic loss of this young boys life. But you fail to point certain things out, that whether you or I like it or not, exist.
Black men make up a largely dissproportionate number of the violent crime criminals in this country. Black men wonder why police profile them? Imagine you are a cop in Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, and dy in and day out you see black men pumping bullets into the brains of other young black men for merely no reason, could you help it? Black men are repeatedly the perpetrator and victim in muder crimes in this country in large metro areas, and most people including police and government feel powerless to make a difference. What the Trayvon Martin did was not wrong. He did not break any laws and did not deserve to die. But in my opinion black folks put up a wall from the rest of the country and try and separate themselves in every was possible. From private organizations like NAACP to all black colleges, to award shows, and entire month of celebrating the history, BET etc etc etc and many other things, they consistantly want to be just Americans yet do everything possible to isolate themselves from society that I see.
Im sorry, but when the problem and epidemic of blacks murdering blacks in record numbers in this country stops, then we can delve further into these ISOLATED incidents. But come on, every single day one black man murders another black man, somes brother, someones, dad, someones friend, someones son, it happens in record numbers all over this country every day and has been for 30 YEARS. What is more racist then taking someones life?? Like Trayvon Martin, what other black men inflict on other black men and familes is disturbing. But dont be so quick to separate the two. Murder is murder. And a black men pumping bullets into another black man is no different and is the most extremem disregard for that person and their family. It happens every day. And no can stop it. Black America loves to talk about the past, civil rights, freedom of slavery, but how about the future?? Better parenting, more fathers in the home, lower crime rates..? Its not all "the system", its YOU. We have a black president. We almost had a black REPUBLICAN presidential candidate in Herman Cain. You cant sit around and blame everyone else, people have come to this country with NOTHING bareley speaking English and made it big. So, while this event is tragic, its not about race always, because the shooter was hispanic. Its about the fact that this is just one of many murders that blacks account for everyday and the ony realize everyone is all up in arms is because it was not another black man that spilled his brains on the concrete. Where are you for those murders Al Sharpton? Rev Jesse? NAACP???

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterandy ziglamoto

Wonderful, poignant, and dead on correct.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean

I'm from St. Louis, so I appreciate you points about how folks want you to take that!!!! I enjoyed this piece no matter where you live racial discrimination is alive and well in 2012.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKRM

Dear Snob,

I wonder if there is a way for you to preserve the integrity of this conversation by deleting (or striking through) the posts of racists like the one above.

This is a beautiful piece. It is no wonder those who disagree would like to drown it out with their diatribes. You struck a nerve.

Thank you

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Snobalicious, few are able to capture the pathos of a tragedy, this tragedy and its bitter history with such raw lyricism. Must read.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Wise Latina Club

I have read your blog on a regular basis for a couple of years, but this is my first time commenting as I just had to praise you for a truly excellent piece. You have PERFECTLY articulated my feelings about this tragedy and about being Black in America. THANK YOU THANK YOU for your words, your wisdom. Reading this hit home for me. Growing up in suburbia, I was that "Only Black Girl In The Class" throughout elementary and middle school, and this was back in the 90's, and I had to deal with racism (racism I know my Civil Rights Era parents probably wished would never touch me) when I was way too young to handle or even KNOW what it was. Luckily for me, my mother was there every day dropping me off, speaking to my teachers, and watching out for me, and at the time, I thought she was being overprotective, an annoying helicopter parent---but she had to be present! If she hadn't, lord knows what would have went down. And the other day, I thanked her for that.

You are so on-point about Black children being told to be 'good'. I was always told this by everyone from my parents to my grandmother...that you had to be 120% better than the next, that if you followed the rules things would work in your favor, that your ancestors existed and fought so you could obtain and enjoy these "privileges" and chances...but then when your told this over and over, and then when tragedies like this happen you're snapped back to thinking that whatever you do, no matter how achieved you are in mind and existence---someone will come along and snatch all that away and sometimes with a bullet. It's EXHAUSTING to live like that...and I'm so tired of it.

It even pains me to think that one day I will have children and no matter who I choose to marry/have kids with, I'll have to sit down have these serious conversations, and be that helicopter parent...not to mention the worry. No way to live it is...but I guess that is our strength, and it shows in your words because while reading, even though the world and the people in it appears hopeless and just worthless, we keep on fighting, and that's what has always elevated us---our strength to keep on.

Once again, THANK YOU x100 for saying what a lot of us were thinking and for saying it with such grace and intelligence.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifudy

I went to a school where I would get on the bus & a boy would pull my hair & say "ewwww it feels weird!" his 2 little friends that were girls would slap me & pinch me and call me a bitch. This was just the bus ride to school! I had just moved to this school & didn't understand why I was getting treated like this, they call me racist names, there was not very many kids in this school who had the same color of skin as me. I was ridiculed on a daily basis, physically & mentally abused. One day I said I'm not going to be bullied anymore, & when the young man went to push me out of his way to get on the schoolbus, I reached up & grabbed the back of his shirt & pulled him off the first step. His little girlfriends got mad, & when they went to walk by me the first one went to slap me & before she could do it, I stomped on her foot. The other little girl just walked on by without looking at me, FINALLY!!! Some peace! I still didn't understand it was about race though, I thought they were just plain old mean, until finally another girl said "no they're being mean to you because your WHITE." see the whole time I was being picked on I never saw color I just thought they were just mean, yet when they looked at ME they saw a white kid. Until "blacks" can stop seeing "whites" & vica versa then these things won't change, judge a man by what's in his heart. You can only do that if you get to know him first, instead of looking at the exterior of the person. There is no them & us, we have breath the same air, there is only division if you allow it. The only enemy is the ones who want to conquer us, DIVIDE & conquer.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDon't judge me

Thank you for this wonderfully written piece. I am a white male, and you have given me a glimpse into something that I will never be able to understand: what it is to be black in America. The burdens you must shoulder; the difficulties. Thank you. This was so very eye opening.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
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