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Today I’m 32, Here Are 32 Things I’ve Learned

July 18th, 2013 10 comments

In honor of turning 32, I’ve decided to share 32 things I’ve learned. If you want to do something for my birthday, read it, please. Thank you!

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On Trayvon Martin and Our Fear of Smiling Black Men

July 15th, 2013 7 comments

After I finished cutting my hair yesterday, I spent a longer time than usual staring at myself in my bathroom mirror.

This wasn’t vanity at work here. I still had specks of my old hair splattered against my forehead, which was shiny because I just finished running warm clippers over my head on a day where the temperature was around 200 degrees fahrenheit.

I was focused on trying to detach myself from the person I saw in the mirror because I wanted to see what other people may see when they see me walking down a street or on a platform waiting on the subway. I wanted to see the face my mom said others would see if I wore my hat cocked a certain way or played a certain type of music at a certain volume.

I wanted to see the face of fear.

And I couldn’t.

A straight face isn’t my default face. I like to smile and I do it more than I don’t. When I look at pictures of Trayvon Martin, I see a boy who smiled when the camera was on him. If I had to write a story about Trayvon using those pictures alone, I would describe him as a happy child who didn’t need to be feared by anyone.

Then I would hand that story to people like George Zimmerman.

A lot of what I have read about George Zimmerman and the tragic not guilty verdict those six jurors came to on Saturday has been about hate. Zimmerman was driven by hate, those six women must hate black people, and certainly the criminal justice system hates black people too. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hate…

I’m not writing this to disagree with any of it. Our interpretations about this American tragedy are ours to have, but mine is slightly different.

George Zimmerman was afraid of Trayvon Martin because Trayvon Martin was black. George Zimmerman feared Trayvon Martin because black people adorned in something as simple as a hoodie and khakis and sneakers with a bag of candy in their hand look dangerous to people who are either not black themselves or isolate themselves from black people to the point where the only exposure they have to them is via the media and entertainment.

George Zimmerman feared Trayvon Martin because he never saw one of the numerous pictures of the young black boy smiling.

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