Sunday, April 8, 2012

Special Guest Blogger: Amy Weisman

A few weeks ago, I read about the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin.  As a mother, I cried for Trayvon’s mother.  I cried for the state of prejudice that still exists in this country.  I cried for the fact that we live in a country where people can shoot someone & claim “self defense” without consequence.  

I felt a sense of shame, to be honest. 

I felt shame that I’ve never truly called anyone out when they make prejudiced remarks.  All I ever did was to ask people not to speak that way in front of me.  I’m ashamed to say that since I wasn’t part of the solution, I was part of the problem.

It’s time to open a meaningful dialogue about racial profiling and prejudice.  We all have preconceived notions about one another based on race, gender, religion and even the clothes that we wear.   

As parents, as mothers, we need to set a standard that not only expects, but demands, that we treat others with the same amount of dignity and respect with which we would want our own children to be treated.

Maybe if we adopt this attitude, our children's generation won't be dealing with racism to the extent that we do. Maybe they will look back on this time in history the way we look back at slavery... wondering how in the world it was allowed to go on or justified in any way.

Maybe they can evolve beyond our shortcomings. 

I notice a lot of people in this country avoiding this issue or becoming defensive about it.  No one wants to be accountable.  I hear a lot of excuses about what’s happened; people are trying to find Trayvon somehow at fault.  Perhaps some are legitimately trying to make sense of something senseless.  But I believe most people simply don’t want to admit that Zimmerman acted not out of self-defense, but as a racist.

People who aren't racist don't target black men, follow them and then shoot them dead.  Simple as that.

People don’t want to take a hard line about this because it rocks the boat.  If you’re white in this country, you know someone, probably pretty well, who is blatantly racist.  I know that especially here in the South, if you speak out, or speak up about it, you subject yourself to an argument you cannot win.

But this isn't a problem that exists solely down here.

People don’t want to truly acknowledge what goes on because that would require them to do something about it, and it doesn’t affect them directly, so it’s easier to look the other way.  Though most racism is subtle -- not meriting a national headline-- it is nonetheless there.

What does it say about us as human beings that some of us turn our heads to injustice and social problems?  I am guilty of it.  I’ve found that because I’m white, people assume they can talk to me about their racist views without it becoming an argument. 

And sadly, for a long time, they were right. 

I wouldn’t call anyone out on it.  I would change the subject or fidget uncomfortably.  I’m not going to be someone’s racist sounding board anymore.

As a mother, a white woman, and a human being, I am challenging you to take a stand about this. 

Don’t turn your head.  Think of how devastated you would feel if Trayvon had been your son.  Think about the injustice.  Think about the prejudice you hold.  Think about ways in which you can make a conscious effort to change it.  Set an example and an expectation with your own children on how to treat people.  I challenge you to be heard.  At the bare minimum, the racist people we know will realize that more and more people are intolerant of their views. 

Maybe it will make them question their line of thinking. 

I challenge you to stand with me, and pledge to no longer be silent.

Amy lives in the Houston area and is a stay-at-home mother of two boys.  

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