Trayvon Martin Analysis: It’s time for all Americans to look in the mirror
A shattered America serves no one
George Zimmerman is behind bars. To some, this might be a cause to celebrate, but I hope that we refrain. Zimmerman is a tragic character in a made for America drama. His life will be linked forever to a tragedy that opened up old wounds for America. The hope is that revealing those wounds will make us look at ourselves and change the way we deal with each other.
Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. The teen was walking to his father’s fiancée’s house from the store when Zimmerman who thought he was suspicious confronted him. They got into a verbal altercation and then a physical confrontation and Martin was killed. Now Zimmerman is charged with 2nd degree murder and faces life imprisonment.
That tragic moment has led to protest from the black community and a call for Zimmerman’s arrest. It has also highlighted the divide between the right and the left. The questions that we are asking involve the story of these two tragic figures, but maybe we should all be asking how we contributed to this tragedy in our daily lives.
No one should ever be judged based only on his or her appearance. However, that is human nature and there are contributing factors. As African Americans, our focus has got to change from that of being victimized to becoming victorious. To do this we must confront the problems in our communities head on. These include black-on-black violence and broken dysfunctional family units. It is time to take back our children. We cannot do this by pontificating about how. We need to get our hands dirty. Some of us will be hurt or even die.
Bullies who have power over someone do not give it up easily. The bullies in our communities who carry guns are not afraid to use them. However, like most bullies, if enough of us gather together and stand up to them, we can change their behavior. This starts with honestly looking at what is going on with our children and dealing with it instead of pushing it aside or assigning blame.
It also means looking in the mirror and deciding how we as a community need to affect change to survive. Death is an everyday occurrence for some of our children. Some of us, and I include myself in this, do not want to look at the issues that black people in urban areas face. We choose to assimilate and that assimilation has left our communities lost and looking for their way. For the most part, no one else is raping, murdering, or robbing our children. We do it to ourselves. It is time to face the facts and stand up to those terrorists in our own home.
For some Caucasians the task is no easier. Until we all look at these problems and accept them as an American problem, things will never change. Referring to and dealing with minority Americans as if they are a different entity only breeds contempt. We are all Americans and should be judged as only Americans.
Crime in America is a universal problem. All groups commit crime and most of the people who do live at or below the poverty level. This is our American boat and we all have to stop the leaks before it sinks. Becoming a part of the solution may mean breaking down barriers that we have erected because of race. All of our young people need teaching, and it is my experience that color really does not matter. Kids, especially, are looking for consistency and love. We all have those things to give.
As a teacher, I find that my students do not attach themselves to me or do well for me because I am nice to them. I am a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest. They attach themselves to me because I am the same person every day and they know that I care. The way we change the dynamic of racism and violence in America is one person at a time—making personal connections and following through.
America is at a crossroads and we cannot depend on government or anyone else to help us solve our problems. We have to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. The question is are we brave enough or does fear control our choices. I’m in for the long haul, how about you?