Martin killing highlights worldwide issue
I would be remiss if I didn't take a week to address the injustice that is the Trayvon Martin story. I know that it didn't happen in Bermuda, but we all know we haven't quite cracked the race relations nut in Bermuda either. The intent of this submission is not to divide Bermuda but to confront an issue that is still unresolved.
Like President Obama, when I look at Trayvon Martin, I see my own son. He could be my son. He could be me. My son will be his age one day and although a little lighter in complexion, is still a young black male, judged by the world just as the world has just judged Trayvon Martin.
Having also lost a child, not in the gruesome manner as Trayvon's parents lost him but still having lost a child; my heart bleeds and cries for his parents. I know the pain of losing a child. Nobody should have to bury their own child, I've done it and it is simply unfair.
Sadly, the American justice system is not doing right by Trayvon, and the reason I raise the subject is because it shows that worldwide we still have so much more work to do in the area of race relations. This is a fatal example of what happens with racial profiling.
The fact of this matter is that there are still too many people in the world who look at all young black males and black people in general with a negative view.
I was talking with three young black males in Bermuda last weekend, all around 19-20 years of age, about racial profiling and they all feel that they are victims of racial profiling.
They feel that they are not given opportunities and are viewed in a negative light because they are black, because of the way they dress. They may be wrong, they could be right, but their perception is their reality and if they feel that they are being racially profiled then we need to create an environment where they do not feel this way.
I will admit that in some instances black people have used the racecard as a defence mechanism. In some cases it is valid, in others not, but the problem is that until the whole world gets to a space where a person is judged ONLY by the content of their character and not the colour of their skin, we will always have racial problems.
It goes back to the speech given by Haile Selassie, to the United Nations, back in 1963. I've quoted it previously but share it again for our edification, and reminding that we have not advanced much at all, if these kinds of injustices can still happen.
Selassie said: “On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and goodwill; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”
And this is the reason I have raised the issue, because 49 years after this speech the problem still exists. Because we have to keep fighting against this injustice and sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword.
I must give credit to Mark and Tina Nash in Bermuda who are both white and are willing to speak out about white privilege. If I, as a black man, complain about the injustices some people will not listen. However, when a white person speaks out against it, white people and others who would dismiss the issue are forced to listen, accept and admit that the world has been built on injustices against people of colour and a system that gives privileges to white people that are not afforded to blacks.
In this regard, I attach a couple of passages from a blog entitled
I will never look suspicious to you posted by Michael Skolnik at GlobalGrind.com:
“I will never look suspicious to you. Even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers on ... in fact, that is what I wore yesterday ... I still will never look suspicious. No matter how much the hoodie covers my face or how baggie my jeans are, I will never look out of place to you. I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up. I will never witness someone clutch their purse tightly against their body as they walk by me. I won't have to worry about a police car following me for two miles, so they can “run my plates.” I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never get “stopped and frisked.” I will never look suspicious to you, because of one thing and one thing only. The colour of my skin. I am white.
“I was born white. It was the card I was dealt. No choice in the matter. Just the card handed out by the dealer. I have lived my whole life privileged. Privileged to be born without a glass ceiling. Privileged to grow up in the richest country in the world. Privileged to never look suspicious. I have no guilt for the colour of my skin or the privilege that I have. Remember, it was just the next card that came out of the deck. But, I have choices. I got choices on how I play the hand I was dealt. I got a lot of options. The ball is in my court.”
This is what we all need to read as a community no matter our colour or origin. We must look at ourselves and search our hearts to see what lies there. Do we carry those perceptions? Were we indoctrinated about those stereotypes? Do we carry them still?
All is not lost, we can fix this and we must, because I don't want another 49 years to pass and still be in the same situation that we have been in since forever! Peace ...….DJLT.
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