“RIGHT HERE!!!! WEARING BEDAZZLED HOODIES!!! “
This was a tweet that came across my Twitter feed the other day. Now, I don’t cuss. But, when I saw this, a few choice words started to bubble inside of me. Thousands of people across America have taken to the streets in protest, wearing hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin. This young Black boy just happened to be wearing a hoodie when he was murdered by a White man who thought he looked “suspicious.” Some, like the person who wrote that tweet have taken the symbolism of the hoodie and turned it into something trivial. My heart grieves over the senseless death of Trayvon Martin. Yet, there is something else that is troubling me.
Why is the death of 17 year old Trayvon so sensational? Especially since, our young African-American children are slain in the streets everyday and there is very little outcry. I think this hit home because when someone is killed, you expect there to be some sort of justice or resolution. The fact that to the date of this post, George Zimmerman his killer, has not been arrested is appalling. However, unsolved crimes are the norm in the African-American community.
The city of Harvey, Illinois, a troubled, predominately African-American suburb of Chicago, is only now under lawsuit for failing to process 200 rape kits from 1997-2007. That means approximately 200 women saw no justice for the crimes commited against their bodies. That means that the rapists who commited these crimes are still on the streets. In one weekend alone in Chicago, 40 people were shot and 10 people killed. This is not Afghanistan, but it sure feels that way at times. Our neighborhoods are under siege by gangs and crime and no one really knows what to do.Where is the outcry?
Perhaps there is no outcry in our communities because Blacks killing and mistreating each other has become a “norm.” In Trayvon’s case, you have a black boy, killed by a white man who has not been brought to justice, and everyone is outraged. Yet everyday, young Black men are pulled over by racist cops without just reason, coerced into confessions, given longer sentences than whites for the same crimes. I found out that a classmate of mine just lost her sister in a similar case to Trayvon Martin. Rekia Boyd was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer a few days ago. The officer said that the man who she was walking with pointed a gun at him, but turns outs that it was just a cell phone. Again, where is the outcry?
One can only hope and pray that the attention Trayvon’s tragedy is receiving can become the impetus for change in our community. President Obama in a speech weighed in the on the Trayvon Martin case, stating that we all need to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen. There needs to be real dialogue on a social, political and even spiritual level about race, law enforcement and poverty. More than just hoodies, there needs to be a radical change is our culture, our justice system and society. But hey, if a hoodie is what is takes to build solidarity around these issues, then I will wear mine with pride.
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