On vacation with my family, I decided to also take a vacation from news for a few days. When I stumbled back into the cycle, the Trayvon Martin story was everywhere. The more I read, the more baffled I became. No one knows, of course, exactly what happened in the moments before the gun went off, but we do know a kid with Skittles and Ice Tea in his hands is dead and the shooter has not been arrested.
Had it been a white boy killed in a similar fashion would the shooter – black, brown, white – still be on the street?
Shifting gears, I caught up on my entertainment. The Hunger Games was released last weekend and I’m among the many excited to see the film. I’m a fan. I loved the books. Read all three of them within 5 days. I was having fun, re-familiarizing myself with all the tributes…
…but wait. WHAT? I find myself reading that fans are DISAPPOINTED by the race of Rue? People are upset because the tiny girl with “dark brown skin and eyes,” we fell in love with is *gasp* black. I couldn’t even begin to understand this. The author very clearly describes the two tributes from Sector 11 as having dark skin and eyes — and even if there had not been clear descriptions, can this really be an issue?
And then tonight? Tonight I was on Facebook — scanning, creeping, commenting here and there. Today was my birthday — the best day to be on Facebook…you feel so loved — and on my news feed was a link a friend “liked”. Then another friend shared it. And another. And another. I pulled it up- believe me, I knew better- these friends doing the liking rarely like anything I like, but I pulled it up anyway. It was a picture of young, white couple and mug shots of 5 African-Americans. The caption read “Where’s the Media Outrage?”
I looked up the story. This case is horrific. Terrible. Violent. Unimaginable. A young, white couple was carjacked, BRUTALLY abused, raped, and murdered by this gang of 5. The attackers were arrested, tried, and convicted. Terrible. Yes. And agreed, most of the media related to the story was local. It was a violent crime in the details, but it was not scandalous. It was determined there was no evidence of a hate crime. The criminals were arrested, indicted, brought to trial. A community was altered, but as with most violent crimes in our country, the story did not go national.
So why was this picture and links to various YouTube videos about the case catching fire on Facebook? The murders were in 2007. Why now?
Because we do not live in a post-racial America; we are not even close. This week we have heard that a hoodie is to blame for Trayvon’s death. We are seeing the boy’s character attacked as if pictures or school records have anything to do with the events of February 26, 2012. We are learning that casting African-Americans in beloved roles in Hollywood movies lessens the character’s likeablity and value. We are spending time in social media searching for stories to trump Trayvon’s, in an attempt to prove how biased the media is against the white population.
Electing an African-American President was a profound step. A real historical moment of celebration for our nation. But as this week has demonstrated, over and over and over, it certainly did not “fix” all that ails this divided land. From Florida, to Hollywood, to our conversations on Facebook…we have miles to go before we can claim to have put the racial issues in this country to rest.