I'm not afraid (I'm not afraid) to take a stand (to take a stand)
Everybody (everybody) come take my hand (come take my hand)
We'll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let'n you know that, you're not alone
Holla if you feel that you've been down the same road
Yeah, it's been a ride...
I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one
Now some of you might still be in that place
If you're trying to get out, just follow me
I'll get you there
—Eminem "I'm Not Afraid"
The summer I was seven, we went to Disney World, back in the day of coupon books. I saved two coupons for the most important things I could think of. One was for Space Mountain, the other was for the Hall of Presidents. Yes, I have always been that much of a nerd. I wanted to see the robotic Abraham Lincoln, the man I thought was the coolest president the U.S. had ever seen.
No one else, not Grandma, not Grandpa, not Mom, not baby sister, wanted to waste a ticket on the Hall of Presidents and after much pestering, my extremely overprotective mother told handed me a map of the park, showed me where it was and sent me off alone.
I admit I was somewhat terrified to be going alone through this big park. It was the height of Stranger DANGER! and my mother was always going on about how we had to be careful to not get kidnapped.
But hey. Sometimes you have to take a stand and just decide not to be afraid. After all, Abraham Lincoln did it. He stood up and was not afraid and he freed the slaves. All I had to do was walk across Disney World by myself. Piece of cake.
I found the pavilion with robotic presidents and slid out of the Florida heat into the air conditioning. I was stunned that hardly anyone was there. I took a seat in the back half of the theatre, but close enough that I could get a good look at these robots.
And I waited.
It was kind of scary being there all alone. I had too much time to think. But I was tough. No one would bother me. I sat up a little straighter.
A rustling behind me. I slumped down, scared all over again. Looked behind me. It was a 20-something young couple. Black. I froze.
You see, my father is a horrible bigot, a terrible racist. Big proponent of the Klan.
And my mother was always terrified of anyone who was different. Well-known for locking her car door when a black man stood across the street as she drove.
And both the young man and the young woman smiled at me. That's all. They didn't say a word. They didn't make a motion. They smiled.
And I relaxed completely. I was here to see President Lincoln, after all. The man who freed the slaves. The man who told all of the U.S. that people are people regardless of colour. I was not afraid of a young couple just because their skin was dark and mine so white it practically glows in the dark.
I smiled back at them. We all settled in to watch the show.
They were gone by the time the show was over. I never did have an opportunity to speak to them.
And all this week, I've been thinking about Trayvon Martin. And I desperately want the chance to smile at him. To tell him he has nothing to fear from people whose skin is different than his any more than I did.
Except we all know that's not true.
I want to tell Trayvon Martin that wearing a hoodie shouldn't be a scary thing to anyone. It's a fucking lightweight jacket, for crying out loud. Where's the harm in a piece of clothing?
I am sick that anyone thinks they can kill someone else for wearing the wrong clothes. I don't care if that's a yarmulke, a hijab, a hoodie, a short skirt, or a Notre Dame jacket.
I am sick that any 250lb man in Florida can claim that he was so scared of the threat posed by a 140lb lanky boy just because he wore a hoodie and had darker skin that he thought he was within his rights to pull a gun and kill the boy.
I am sick that he might not be put in jail for this murder.
I am sick that people defend George Zimmerman's actions. There is no defense for that even if the stand your ground law might protect him from jail time.
I am sick when I think if a 17 year old black boy had pulled a gun on a 28 year old possibly Hispanic dude with a rather anglo last name, he'd have been tossed in jail regardless of what reasons he had for pulling the gun, up to and including self-defense. It would have been beat and arrest first, prove your innocence or extenuating circumstances later.
This whole damn mess makes me sick.
And the jackasses who claim there's no racial component to any of this? Pull your head out of the sand and look around.
Really look at what the Tea Party is proclaiming. Really look at what the FOX News drones are doing with their language and have been for years.
Really look at the mess we are in.
Really open yourself to what H. Samy Alim has to say.
It shouldn't be this way. It just shouldn't.
I'm really sorry the comments are still off. Still haven't been able to find a non-captcha way of dealing with the spam. I'll keep looking. (Seriously, over 500 spam comments in less than 8 hours was bad. Was 14 hours before I realized it and could get them turned off and I had to delete well over 1500 comments from the database.)