His walking free said to me that Emmitt Till, a 14 year old black boy who suffered a cruel death when I was 17 – for basically saying “Hello” to a white woman – had died in vain. This tragedy, for a while, practically crippled me with intense emotional pain as a result of my thinking that what had happened to him could happen to me – as my mother and I travelled down south rather frequently. Mississippi, specifically.
I carry within me images of both Emmitt’s battered body looking out at me from a page in Jet Magazine and a sickening scene featuring the men who killed him. A jury of their “peers” found them not guilty in a horribly absurd trial and they mugged in front of a camera smoking cigars and kissing their wives, looking as though they were ready to go out on the town and do-si-do. I imagine it was one big party behind bars also but they did spend time in jail. They sat in the hoosegow. They had some slammer time.
So the reason I was so relieved when Zimmerman was put away was because now things seem to be falling in line. I mean isn’t it routine that when an alleged perpetrator commits an alleged crime he is handcuffed and patted down? Isn’t he plopped down in the backseat of a cop car with a little downward shove on his head? Aren’t his rights read, his prints taken and his body adorned with orange clothes and orange shoes? Or blues? Isn’t a jury gathered for a trial wherein a story is told from a variety of angles with one considered innocent until proven otherwise all the while? Isn’t this justice, American style?
We should all be sleeping a little better with this man in jail and hopefully the rules of “fairness” will prevail and Emmitt will not have died in vain. But in the meantime, based on all the conversations that took place around this Trayvon/Zimmerman case we, as a society, have some serious work to do if we’re to ever find ways to understand each other; if we’re to ever treat each other with compassion.
We, each of us, whether we’re regular Janes and Joes or the powers-that-be, need to take responsibility for creating a social and political environment wherein we can learn to become more accepting of the range of ethnicities that enrich our lives as Americans. Along these lines some of us are blessed with an opportunity to promote togetherness and goodwill in ways most of us could only dream. Like, for instance, San Diego’s Mr. Radio, Roger Hedgecock, a man with multitudes of followers.
But for goodness sake, what will it take? This man took my breath away with his claim in the U-T that Obama was playing the “race card” when he declared that if he “had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Say what? A man speaks from the pain he’s feeling, an immense pain that was felt deeply by millions of African Americans, based on the horrors committed against us in our collective history, and that is summarized as playing the race card? How trivializing and mocking is that? Come on, who’s really playing the race card here? Not to mention that Trayvon does resemble our president.
How do we become more sympathetic towards one another with attitudes like his at play? But this isn’t new for ex-mayor, Hedgecock.
We should never forget how, a number of years ago, with people crossing our border out of Mexico after having trekked miles upon miles upon miles, looking for jobs, struggling to survive, to stay alive, to house and feed their families – he along with hundreds of others turned their car headlights on these hurting human beings’ hopes and dreams. “Light Up the Border” was the name of their shameful scheme. Who did that help on either side of the demarcation line that separates us?
And we should never forget a time when young gay students and their allies observed a day of silence in protest of the discrimination and harassment they faced in the Grossmont School District. They were struggling to survive emotionally in their schools day to day. Instead of using the power of his radio show to make these young people feel wanted and loved, Hedgecock denounced them as “Storm trooping fascists” and “Gay Nazis” and bad mouthed their schools for “advocating the homosexual lifestyle.” My great-aunt, Lillie, would say: “Sumpin wrong with that man, honey child!”
Now, as though he’s not doing enough harm in our city ala Rush Limbaugh via Talk Radio he’s been given a voice on the Union-Tribune’s op-ed pages.
I don’t expect the paper, with its conservative bent, to cease sharing it’s right wing thoughts about politics and life, in general, but there must be somebody who can express such views without dealing racial, xeno and homophobic “cards.”
With Roger Hedgecock contributing regularly to our daily paper with his wealth of hatefull card tricks I don’t see how we can build a better community, a better world or, since this discourse began with words about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman – a more just world.