No doubt many have you noticed most of your Facebook friends posting pictures of themselves wearing hoodies. This is to show solidarity with the friends and family of Trayvon Martin, a seventeen-year-old black teen who was shot by a neighborhood watchman. Although Martin was unarmed, several people--most famously Geraldo Rivera--commented that if Trayvon wasn't wearing a hoodie, he wouldn't have looked so "suspicious." Which is basically like telling a rape victim that her dress caused her to be raped. So this weekend I, along with many others, changed my profile picture as a way to mourn with those who mourn.
However, I wouldn't go so far as to say, "I am Trayvon Martin." I feel like that's borderline Privilege Denying Dude. As a white man, it's pretty safe to say I will never "look suspicious" enough for someone to call the cops on me. I will never know what it's like to have someone look me up and down to see if I'm carrying a gun. I wish I could say that in 2012 we live in a post-racial society, but it's not true. And I think Trayvon Martin's death proves this.
I also can't deny the fact that, in some way, I'm almost like George Zimmerman, the guy who shot Trayvon. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT making a direct comparison. But how many times have I unfairly judged someone because of the way he or she looked? How many times have I automatically assumed that someone's going to be trouble? I'm not saying Zimmerman shouldn't be brought to justice. Far from it! But how can I pretend to be high and mighty when I've unfairly judged people, too?
If any good comes out of Trayvon Martin's death, I hope that it starts a conversation about privilege and justice. And I hope you all will pray with me that justice will flow on like a river.