Reflecting on this month, the prejudices we hold against others are on display …and right now it’s looking ugly. The most important lessons in etiquette and, even more importantly, in humanity are building positive views of oneself and broadening one’s views of others. They go hand in hand. In order to respect another human being for who they are, you must first work on how you view your own character and self worth. If one feels less than worthy, it’s easy to feed off negative stereotypes of others hoping that will make one feel better about oneself.
Whether you’re looking down your nose at Lindsay Lohan for her public conduct and run-ins with the law,
or scoffing at Tiger Wood’s last win because you disapprove of his infidelity,
or judging the teenager walking down the street wearing a hoodie, we must realize that it is our own insecurities at the root of our narrow points of view.
Once we can admit the role we play in perpetuating stereotypes and reinforcing prejudiced acts, then we can decide to heal, grow and empower ourselves and our world. Then we can learn to value others’ lives and stop the proverbial and literal death of our children, our hope, our future. So let us move forward with positive, loving thoughts of ourselves and one another, and build from here.
At this intensely charged moment, the hooded sweatshirt is so much more than a fashion statement. It is a rise in awareness, a symbol of solidarity, and a call for action in seeking justice for Trayvon Martin. If you notice groups of people sporting hoodies and carrying signs or voicing their views on injustice and race relations, it’s alright to ask them about it. Go ahead and Google it. Search Twitter for #MillionHoodies. Read The Senseless Killing of a 17-Year Old College Student . Be informed and get active. Maybe the next time you throw on a hoodie it will carry more meaning for you too.
Click here to sign the petition to prosecute the man who wrongfully killed Trayvon Martin and end the injustice.
In the wake of the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin on February 26th, I am moved to begin discussing intercultural and interracial protocol. Many people believe we already have a handle on how to interact with others of different races and ethnicities. I beg to differ. When we learn to look at a young Black college student and have our brains register possible College Student instead of Threat; when we learn not to shoot first and then make irrational excuses later, then we may begin to claim that we no longer need guidance in this area.
The back story:
On the evening of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, a young Black man in a hooded sweatshirt named Trayvon Martin was walking back from the store with ice tea and a pack of Skittles. Upon seeing this young man, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman identified him as a threat, called 9-1-1, and pursued Mr. Martin. Mr. Zimmerman was directed by the 9-1-1 operator to not follow Mr. Martin. Mr. Zimmerman ignored the directive and ended up shooting and killing Mr. Martin. Mr. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense and his family claims that he is not racist because he is of Hispanic background. Mr. Martin was a teenaged college student who had no weapon in his possession. Mr. Zimmerman still has not been arrested and the police investigation of this matter was questionable. These facts have lead to protests, the Million Hoodie March, letter-writing, emails, phone calls and the mass signing of a criminal justice petition to garner media attention and force the local police department, local courts, as well as local and federal governments to investigate and prosecute Trayvon Martin’s murderer.
I am asking all of my readers, social media friends and family to take this first simple, but powerful step: Look closely at your own thoughts regarding people of other races and ethnicities. Have you equated a Black man in a hooded sweatshirt to the thug or criminal images you frequently see on your television? Do you assume the Latino woman in front of you on line is an illegal alien, manual laborer who is stealing your jobs and getting away with paying no taxes? Are you fearing that your White male coworker has no conscience and treats multicultural people poorly when he thinks no one is looking? What stereotypes are you subconsciously harboring each day that you and only you have the power to change right now? Now that you are recognizing what those thoughts are, I challenge you to begin changing them.
No one deserves to be removed from this earth solely because of another person’s racial prejudice. No one deserves to lose a job, be degraded in public, get rejected by a school, get turned down for funding, and so forth due to another person’s cultural prejudice. And when this does happen, we must bring the perpetrator to justice. They must answer for what they have done.
Currently, people – young and old, across communities, of different races – are taking a stance and voicing their outrage against this latest instance of hatred. I encourage you to see where and how you can make a change. Today, you can start by signing the criminal justice petition to prosecute the killer of Trayvon Martin at change.org.