These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Take race out of the equation. Would he have pursued him? Called the police? Tailed him even after a 911 operator told him to stop following the boy? Gotten out of the car to confront him, knowing that police were on their way?

Now flip the script. If Martin had been white and Zimmern black, would that verdict have been different?

Sad thing is, racism was, and still is, an issue in our country. The thing is, until I was almost in middle school, I didn’t know racism existed.

I live in a city that’s a nice mixture of many races. I grew up having block parties with people of many different backgrounds. I was exposed to other cultures at a young age. I remember having cow tongue tacos (tacos lenguas) with our next door neighbors. Skipping double dutch or doing drills with the girls down the street. Watching tv with my friend while her mother put cornrows in her hair. Learning to speak Spanish from the kids in the neighborhood. Playing marbles for “keepsies” with every kid on the block gathered around to watch like it was the World Cup. This was my childhood and it was great.

Fast forward to Fourth Grade. I was a smart kid who was pretty socially awkward. I got bullied a lot. One of my bullies was a girl who I had been friends with at one point. While we were on our way to the library, she balled up her fist and made a motion like she was going to hit me. When I flinched, she asked me if I was prejudiced. I had no idea what that meant. As I stared blankly at her, my friend Travis spoke up for me. “If she was prejudiced, she wouldn’t be friends with me.” As we continued to the library, Travis explained to me what prejudiced meant. By the time he was done, I wanted to cry. How could someone think that my opinion of them could be based on their skin color?

I guess that’s part of the reason I don’t understand the hate and anger that people are throwing around about this case. As a parent, I feel anger over the not guilty verdict. As a human, I feel sadness over this senseless loss. I don’t understand the anger and hate though.

Over the past couple days, the comments I have read on social media have been outright horrible. Some have even made me cry. My news feed is blowing up with views from both sides of the fence. Many people are posting other crimes that may have been racially motivated, saying why didn’t this have national coverage? Why didn’t Obama make a statement about this? Plain and simple, it’s the media. The media chose to take this case and blow it up. That had nothing to do with the government, the president, anyone else other than the media.

On the flip side, I have heard people call for the death of Zimmerman. Some have even commented that they would like to find him and do it themselves. What is that going to solve? Nothing.

I’m happy to say that these extreme comments are only from a few on my contacts list. It still saddens me to see people I care for so full of anger and hate.

A gentleman on Facebook named Alex Fraser penned this response. I found it to be both insightful and true.

Hopefully, one day race will be a non-issue in America. I often think back to my childhood neighborhood and wish that the whole country could come together as we did. I know one thing for sure. So long as people allow hatred and anger to well up in them at moments like this instead of concern and compassion, things like this will continue to divide us instead of unite us.

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