The Cover of the Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone cover: Dzhokhar TsarnaevSo many people have their undies in a knot over this week’s cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The Boston Bomber, the young kid from Uzbekistan who bombed the Boston Marathon is on the cover. People are screaming far and wide about it. Walgreen’s won’t sell it. There’s a big hoopla over it.

I don’t understand it. Or maybe I do. But I don’t see why his picture shouldn’t be there. Is there something going on I don’t know about? I doubt it. He’s newsworthy of course. But I will tell you how I see it.

It’s all part of that double standard. Let’s say for instance, that he and Trayvon Martin were both walking down a street together. And let’s imagine that George Zimmerman and his handy gun was there watching them. I don’t think I need to tell you which one of them George would be watching. Which one he’d be angry about and which one he’d suspect of being up to something. Which one would he accost?

So while he’s making poor Trayvon’s life miserable, our cute little Bomber Boy goes on home unmolested. He can go meet his brother and the two of them can discuss their plans and keep working on their homemade bombs. Nobody suspects them of anything. They look just like everyone else around, for Christ’s sake. What could they possibly be up to? And if they got in trouble, golly gee, give them a break! They have their whole lives ahead of them! No reason to ruin their lives for a silly adolescent mistake. Boys will be boys right?

Unless they’re black.

So Trayvon fights back. The unknown, unidentified white man attacked him and Trayvon fought back, and our neighborhood watchdog killed him. The cops thought it was ok. I mean, he didn’t belong in that neighborhood, did he? What was he up to?

Meanwhile, Bomber Boy and his Bomber Brother refine their plans and get what they need and nobody suspects a thing. Everybody thinks they are great kids and nobody has any idea that they are the ones who were up to something. They are the ones who should have been followed. Did anybody talk to them? Ask questions? Think their behavior looked suspicious? Of course not!

They’re just like us!!!

So while George Zimmerman goes to court, it is really Trayvon who is put on trial. He shouldn’t have been on that street. He should have gone along with a strange man following and accosting him. He shouldn’t have fought back. He should have allowed the profiling to go on. He shouldn’t have wondered why a man would stop him. All he was doing was walking down the street, talking to a friend on the phone bringing home his iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Eight robberies had taken place there in that area. Of course he was up to something.

Robberies. Not bombings. Nobody was killed. Nobody was maimed. It didn’t even get national attention. But folks were scared and so he had to be stopped.

He’s NOT one of us!!

And now Zimmerman goes free. Trayvon’s parents grieve his death. Sentient people the world over wonder why it happened that way. Racists smugly clutch their guns and try to convince everyone they were right after all. That kid was a thug. He asked for what he got.

But now they can’t stand to look at Bomber Boy on the cover of the Rolling Stone. He looks good. He looks like a boy they’d let their daughter go out with except for the fact he did toss a bomb that killed and injured some people. They had no idea that boy wanted to kill as many of them as he could.

Seeing his picture reminds them of their mistake. They would have defended that boy to the end of the earth. They don’t want to have to look at every young boy like him and wonder if he’s all right.

After all, he isn’t the one you have to watch. He isn’t the one you follow, you harass and arrest.

The black kid with the hoodie, the Skittles and the iced tea.

HE’S the one who was ‘up to something,’ right?

And that’s why you killed him.



Brenda Joyce Thompson is a Chicago-based writer and educator who lives a full life penning fiction and promoting the written and musical work of various artists. A walking library of rock music, Brenda is a peace-loving not-so-reformed hippie who misbehaves every chance she gets.





  1. EXCELLENT perspective Brenda!