A Call to Action

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

Last weekend there was a “Hoodies in the Hood” march in the neighboring city. It was organized as a way to bring awareness of the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford FL and create dialogue about racial discrimination. I have been following this case closely, feeling both horrified and outraged at the racial profiling and acceptance of vigilantism in that town. As new twists in the case keep coming out, the fact that an unarmed boy was killed remains.

I recently reviewed “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. If anyone has read that book you would easily connect the dots and see that all the discrimination which we think we have overcome has merely been shifted under the table. Protected by the Second Amendment and the right to “Stand Your Ground”, a neighborhood watchdog was able to pursue a 17 year-old boy, confront him and kill him because he “looked suspicious”.

I have a 13 year old son. Could this happen to him someday? Will he be wearing his black team hoodie pulled up over his head and walking through a neighborhood where he is not wanted?  Why is it acceptable to shoot an innocent child, just because the attacker claims self-defense? Trayvon Martin was not armed. The 911 dispatcher warned Zimmerman to stop following him. Why did he decide to take the law into his own hands?

We have a system of justice in this country and, for all its imperfections, citizens should let the corrections officers do their jobs and not be allowed to interfere. I would rather have a suspect get away than an innocent person killed.

I am happy to see that there has been a massive public outcry over this case. If Trayvon Martin had to die, at least he has left an imprint on history. His untimely death is an indication that we need to reexamine the ways in which society continues to discriminate against ethnic groups. Whether they are black, hispanic, Muslim or Jewish we should not prejudge people based on their skin color or religious beliefs.

If a Christian organization had wanted to build a church near Ground Zero, would they have met the resistance that the Muslim temple received? If Zimmerman had seen a white boy of  similar build and attire, would he have been alarmed? How do these prolific generalizations become so widely accepted? Why are people so easily classified as criminals or terrorists based on a small minority of the population? Our constitution mandates tolerance and equality for all, so why do age-old prejudices get handed down from generation to generation?

If America wants to carry any credibility of our principles into the 21st century, we need to practice what we preach. We can not condemn a dictator for ethnic cleansing if we are still racially profiling individuals at home. Similarly, we put pur foot in our mouth when we criticize countries for oppressing or abusing women, while at the same time attacking American women’s reproductive rights. Denying women control of their own bodies is only slightly more humane.

I am proud to be an American citizen, but I a very disturbed by the path we seem to be on. I believe there is a silent majority like myself who complacently stand by and let the more vocal extremists (from both sides) call the shots. Now is the time to act. In this election year it will be critical for the grass-roots population to come out of their shells and make their voices heard.

I only learned about the local rally after the fact. In the future I plan to search the web for more timely information. The last time I participated in a protest was before the Iraq War. My children were too young then to remember holding up our sign, which they had created themselves in pre-school fashion, announcing “Use words, not fists!” Since then I have always had a reason to not participate. Either the cause wasn’t deemed worthy of my effort or I didn’t have the time.

American flag

American flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year I plan to take action. My outrage over the Martin case and the ongoing attacks on women’s health care has finally hit a nerve. I intend to find a cause worth supporting and participate in a rally before the November elections. Maybe I can even get my kids interested in a cause. This time around they should have a better understanding of the significance of making our voices heard. After all, the right to protest is patriotic and about as American as you can get.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 10:43:39

    You go girl! I wish I could come up with an effective way to protest actions such as these – I’ve blogged about both topics, I’ve blogged about the ineffectiveness of our congress, I’ve written our congressmen, I’ve tried voting by party because i’ve been so outraged at the other party’s actions, but nothing seems to change. I’m now fighting the urge to simply not vote at all, because at least that way I won’t feel like my vote meant nothing.But in the end, I will vote because I cannot simply drop out, I will continue to protest what I view as unfair or wrong, I will continue to hope things will get better, but I will also continue to worry about the world that is being passed on to our children’s children.

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  2. themiddlegeneration
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 14:38:16

    Just getting your ideas into words and putting them out there for people to read is doing something. I have read those posts of yours and they definitely inspire me. Thanks.

    Like

    Reply

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