What do I tell my son?
I heard the verdict.
First I was shocked. Then I cried. I thought of my spirited little guy, resting peacefully in his Batman-sheeted bed. I resisted the urge to run into his room and hug him as tightly as I could. My thoughts raced to all the parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, wives and husbands out there who love a sweet brown boy. Or man.
Now I am enraged.
I listened to George Zimmerman's fuckwad of a brother say "The world saw what Trayvon Martin did to my brother." (He actually dared to utter those very words!!!) That his brother was sorrowful. That Trayvon Martin's death was unfortunate. That Trayvon Martin was, in fact, armed with the sidewalk. That we must honor what the jury decided, because they did so based on the facts. That his brother was legally armed, and entitled to protect himself when he thought his life was in danger.
First George Zimmerman's life was endangered because he brought to fruition exactly what he feared, what he wanted to believe. That a black teenager walking through that gated community wearing a hoodie, looked suspicious -- out of place -- and was up to no good. By continuing to follow him, ol' Georgie confirmed his own conjecture.
Second, we still don't know the facts, what happened that night. Will we ever? What we know is what George Zimmerman told the jury and the piecing together a story based on recordings and recollection. The jury was not armed with facts, but a reconstruction thereof. They were armed with the case presented, not absolute fact.
And let's remember that the legality of "stand your ground" is like something out of a medieval farming village, and makes our country look positively barbaric among the leading nations of the world. But that is another matter altogether.
Brother of George, I heard your snippy retorts to Piers Morgan. Your denial to the point of mocking of the race card in all this. As much as I'd perversely love to see someone else take the law into their own hands against you and your bro, I get it - your allegiance is to your loathscum of a brother. You are relieved for him and sick of the media circus that has been your family's life for over a year.
I will give you that.
But please, tell me as the mother of an almost five year old brown boy, what I am to think? What am I to tell my son? Don't give me the bullshit that all parents of all colors have to advise their children how to stay safe.
It is different for black and brown men, and if you don't acknowledge that you are either stupid, crazy or in complete denial of the unfathomable depths of American racism.
So someone please tell me, what should I tell my baby when he's old enough to navigate the world alone?
Do I tell him that black life doesn't matter? Do I drill the stories of the Scottsboro boys, Emmett Till and the Central Park Five into his head so that he'll know that black and brown men are guilty until proven innocent? Do I tell him daily that in many states his life matters less? That he must lead the most exemplary of lives, and still "they" -- the people who look like his father's side of the family -- that many of them might be out to get him?
I do know to tell him not to loiter or hang around on street corners. To comply with instructions and not to talk back to the police if he is ever stopped. To only have the most positive associations because if there is one bad apple in the bunch and something goes down, he will likely be implicated. And still, after all that, to know how to hang with the "homeboys" just enough not to be labeled as "stuck up," "oreo" or "fuzzy" (or whatever the colloquialism is for standard-English-speaking, mixed-race kids).
My grandfather talked about doing the right thing in the 1940s. Supposedly, doing the right thing would keep a brown or black person safe, if not show the world his/her worth. "Do not congregate on street corners!" my grandfather would proclaim, fuming about those who'd idle away the day in front of some storefront.
As middle and upper class African Americans, we know the rules. We've played the game. I mean, hey, we have a black president!
Unfortunately (your word Brother of George), no matter how well you play the game, you can still lose.
So tell me, what do I tell my son?
What the hell do I tell him?