“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
America is in the midst of another crisis involving racial lines. Spurred on by the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial, Americans across the country have dug their heels into the sand on the subject of racism.
The “not guilty” verdict pinned on Zimmerman started a fireball of controversy across the nation. Then, came the subject of race.
Cries of another black teenager wrongfully killed by a man fueled by hate littered message boards and social media posts.
My thoughts are a little different than the cry of America because my life in Breckenridge provided a stark contrast to that of Martin, when it came to people having stereotypes of African-American males.
After the case, images of Martin portraying a “stereotypical African-American thug” peppered TVs across the country.
Martin was suspended from school for being caught with marijuana and had a mild history of being a troubled young man. It was like a sort of “justification” of the Zimmerman verdict.
And the flood storm of hate began.
I'm here to say there are forms of racism every day in America. There are forms of racism every day in Sanford, Fla. where Martin was killed. And, unfortunately, there are forms of racism every day in Breckenridge, Texas.
Growing up as a teenager in Breckenridge was admittedly different than what was brought out about Martin in the trial.
When I was a kid, we had no use for a neighborhood watch or a citizen police officer. We had parents that communicated and raised a neighborhood of children, along with their own.
I would be able to go to a friend's house, regardless of color and spend the night, go to family gatherings and social events and not be looked at differently because of my skin color.
And, my friends were allowed to have the same permission when it came to staying at my house.
There were times where I was criticized within my own race for having White, Hispanic or Asian friends. And, there were times where I was the odd man out when it came to a group.
My parents taught me to never use my race as a crutch or an excuse. And, they taught me to go for every opportunity I had, regardless of the my race.
However, they did tell me that there were some people in the world who were set in their ways and would never change when it came to stereotypes on race. “Just don't let anyone run over you,” my mother would tell me.
I've done my best to pass that on to my children. I teach them to live in a colorless world and friends are based on the size of their heart, not the color of their skin.
My son, who will be an eighth-grader at Breckenridge Junior High School had a bout with being called a racial slur when he was 11. He was crushed.
We had that father/son talk that let him know that the young man is only taught what his parents condone in the four walls of their home. It's not his fault. And, I let my son know that every battle isn't worth fighting.
As I saw the light bulb go off in his head, I will say the today's children are different than the generation in which I was raised.
My son was a lot more forgiving in his situation than I would have been.
Time will only tell how forgiving some people will be in the Martin/Zimmerman situation.
As far as Zimmerman's life is concerned — he will be in his own personal “prison.” He will never be able to be a part of mainstream society because of the hate that was stirred following the case.
He will never be able to be a part of life as we know it because he was branded as a racist person from the start. That's unfortunate, but also, that's the world we live in. People are waiting to jump on someone's misfortune at the drop of a hat in today's society. And, that is sad.
People blame the media. People blame Democrats or Republicans. And, people blame the President of the United States.
Through all of this nonsense, the one person people fail to blame is themselves.
We all bleed the same color of blood. Our forefathers spilled it fighting for our country and it's only right that we fight to maintain that right, hand in hand — skin against skin.