I remember Stranger Danger growing up. I was almost never put in a situation that my Stranger Danger prowess was needed – thanks be to all the powers – but I still remember the loud rehearsals in my gradeschool classes. STRANGER! STRANGER!
If you notice a stranger following you, you get away from them.
If a stranger chases after you, you run.
If a stranger touches you in any way, YOU FIGHT BACK.
I guess that’s why I can’t necessarily get behind the allegations that George Zimmerman was committing a hate crime when he shot Trayvon Martin. Before you start hurling the attacks at me, listen.
George Zimmerman is a 28 year old man who lives with his parents. A quick study across the web indicates that he’s had several cases of assault in his past – although in every single one, he’s always claimed to have been attacked first – and he’s tried to become a police officer. His father is a former judge in their hometown. He had the assault charges “pleaded” down specifically so they wouldn’t pop up when he tried (and succeeded) to acquire a concealed weapons permit.
Clearly, Zimmerman locked on to Trayvon Martin because of his race. But after the initial lock, it was all Zimmerman’s mentality from there. (Much like it’s Geraldo’s mentality. And the Sanford, Florida PD’s mentality.)
Trayvon Martin did everything Stranger Danger taught us to do. He was on his cellphone with his girlfriend the entire time, and by her account, Trayvon’s hood was not even up when he noticed he was being followed. He put his hood on to avoid eye-contact with Zimmerman, she said. To avoid a confrontation. She urged him to run, but Martin worried that would make him look guilty.
He was followed by a stranger. He walked faster to get away.
Zimmerman then assaulted Trayvon, who was a 17 year old of 6 feet tall and barely 160 lbs. To put that into perspective, while he was taller than me, I outweighed him. He was a child. Zimmerman tackled Martin, and Martin did what Stranger Danger teaches us to do.
He was attacked by a stranger. He fought back like hell.
I had the misfortune of hearing the 911 call the other day. The screams in the background were haunting. They were not a man’s screams. They were that of a child.
I have to say that this case has brought out the ugly around us. The people who are defending Zimmerman’s actions (“He was being punched in the face,” they cry, “.. it was self defense!”) are people who I know. I know them and in many many cases, I love them. But. I cannot be okay with the actions being taken by that side right now – trolling his Facebook friends, calling him a gangsta because he had a school suspension due to tardiness. Do you not remember your gradeschool rehearsals? Do you not remember Stranger Danger?
I don’t know how you can be a parent – of a CHILD – and be okay with what went down there. Color aside, because maybe it’s sometimes hard to see past what and who we are, what happened that night is the stuff of nightmares. It’s the stuff that we teach our children and hope they never have to use it. It’s the stuff that sinks our hearts as we explain that some people will want to hurt you, not because of anything you did, but you don’t let them, you hear me? You fight back and you scream and you kick and you punch and you fight.
I am the mother of a white child, so I cannot pretend to even know half of the complications and implications of race. But I am the mother of a bullied child. I have had that discussion in italics there before. I have had to teach my child that sometimes, people will want to hurt you, for no reason that you can control. But you fight back, goddamnit. YOU FIGHT BACK.
And we have these talks, about how grown-ups and policemen and courts are there to save us from the bad guys. We have these talks and then a 17 year old boy is gunned down because he wanted some candy after dark and then I wonder if we’re wasting our breath at all.
I’m hesitantly leaving comments open. I am always one for open discussion as long as it’s respectful. Anything less than respectful and kind will be deleted.