Wading in, in a small way…

I very rarely wade into politcal talk online. Let's be real – our country is pretty evenly divided on every important issue. That means that half of those of you who read my blog are more conservative than I am and half of you are more liberal. I myself am very much a moderate on almost every issue that seems to divide our nation.

What moves me to write now is the shooting of Treyvon Martin, and more specifically, my recent stay in LA. If you read my blog, you know that Steve and I and Elanor and Lola spent 24 hours in LA between flights. We stayed at a hotel near LAX which was in walking distance to a Ralph's grocery store.

On Sunday morning I needed fresh air and wanted to walk to the store to get food for lunch. I was assured that it was safe so I walked the two blocks to Ralph's. Let me tell you that it was cold and windy! Not LA-like at all.

It was early-ish on Sunday but there were still some folks on foot. The neighborhood seemed to have a mix of races and everyone was pretty focused on getting where they were going. Ralph's was nice and I enjoyed hearing the snippets of conversation as I was hunting gluten-free food for me and Elanor.

On the way back to the hotel, I was on the sidewalk walking well behind a black man. I'm 56 — he looked younger than me, but not by a lot. He was bigger than me and dressed informally, as was I. My hands were full. At this point I must add that I walk fast. I knew that I would overtake him before I got to the hotel.

I had time to think about what his reaction might be as he realized that I was coming up on him. I had time to realize that many white women in my position might have thought twice and slowed down. But I was not afraid because I honestly do not view males in general and black males in particular as a threat to me. We are all just people and most of us are nice and normal. 

I did notice that he became more vigilant as I got closer. When we were even I said "hi", he said "how ya doing?" and I said I was cold! We lauged and both moved on. And ever since I've thought how sad it is that black men in particular have to be ever vigilant in ways that I as a white woman don't have to be. 

If I was the parent of a black teenaged son I don't know how I would be, but I think I'd be more nervous than I was when my boys were younger. Our country should not be this way.

 


 


23 thoughts on “Wading in, in a small way…

  1. I am originally from Oklahoma, am a black woman with 3 adult sons and 3 grandson’s (2 biracial) and I couldn’t agree more. I was always careful, but I am even more so now. Unfortunately, I have to teach them to be overly careful as well. No room for being a child and making a childish mistake. It could result in your life.

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  2. To Patricia: Becky and I are both originally from Oklahoma, and it is disturbing to me that so little has changed in that state in the time since we were young. I am not sure how it can be done, but I hope your grandchildren can grow up in neighborhoods where they do not have to be careful about their fellow humans when they leave their homes.

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  3. Thank you for speaking up on this issue Becky. I my heart goes out to all the parents of young minorities who have to teach them more painful lessons than I had to teach my son to help them be safe.

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  4. I live in Illinois, which is the only state that does not have a concealed carry law. I only hope the state legislature does the right thing and NOT enact legislation to allow this! The police have constant training on use of deadly force, and are scrutinized to the nth degree when they use it. Why should we let hot head Joe Blow carry deadly force?

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  5. First off-guns do not kill people-people do! I view a car in the hands of a drunk driver to be just as dangerous as a gun. In New Mexico, we are literally the “Drunk Driver” capital of the world. Highway 550 now has extra police on it due to the number of deaths. As to guns, violent criminals will get guns even if they are banned-a whole new industry of illegal guns will development. And, the Obama administration flooded Mexico with weapons-weapons that killed our own people.
    We also have terrible gang violence here. I don’t care what race people are, everyone faces danger. We just had 2 teenagers killed a couple of days ago walking home from school by another teenager on a bicycle wearing a hoodie.
    There is discrimination and violence against every ethnic group and religious group in this country-no one is immune. My grandchildren’s best friends are hispanic. My grandchildren have also been harassed and threatened by other ethnic groups. So everyone in this country needs to make sure change starts with them.
    I do feel that there needs to be a thorough investigation on what happened in Florida and if further action needs to be taken, then file charges and bring Mr. Zimmerman to trial. All facts should come out then.

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  6. Good for you for your post. We should speak up. It is just common sense to treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. Wouldn’t it be great if things actually changed! Keep marching.

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  7. I couldn’t agree more Becky… we have so far to go but have come so far too. I really think my young grandchildren are coming from a better place than my grandparents… …

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  8. I have to agree with what you and others said. How sad it is that in this day and age we still can not all get along and celebrate our differences instead of view them as a threat.
    As for the man who killed the boy – seems to me that the laws of this country say that you can not use DEADLY force unless you are afraid for your life. And unarmed teenager is not a threat. If he felt he needed to protect himself, a bullet in an arm or a leg would have stopped anything that would have happened.
    Personally, if it were my choice, I would charge the man with a criminal offense. No, he didn’t go out with the intent to kill that particular boy — but he was negligent in his use of deadly force. And I think it’s awful that charges have NOT been brought against this man. We are not living in 1800 and it’s time to realize that.

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  9. “We are all just people and most of us are nice and normal.”
    Becky, too bad that not everyone will be taught this.
    Also, too many people have jumped to a conclusion about this case, that may be wrong.
    Also I find it deplorable that the Black Panthers are calling for the hunting down of this man, and they are getting press for that. If this was a group of white people calling for a black man to be hunted down, they would all be arrested for a hate crime, perp walked on TV, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    We are all just people and most of us are nice and normal.
    Your statement ideally is true, but actually, is far from it.

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  10. Thank you for the fine post.
    As a non-black person, I think it is important for us to understand that we will never know what it is like to be black. To simply say that all races experience prejudice diminishes THIS particular incident. Don’t downplay any of the stories of our black brothers and sisters unless you have walked in their shoes…yes, that means wearing their skin color as well.

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  11. I agree that heightened awareness is really required for all people.
    This “stand your ground” law in Florida is BS and although I am so sad for Treyvon Martin’s family, I hope that this tragedy finally brings the law to being overturned. My cousin’s husband was shot and killed while standing in his long underwear, unarmed, at the end of his driveway by a couple in a truck who were claiming self-defense. They stayed around long enough to scream at and threaten his wife and minor children as they futilely raced to save his life. There was no prosecution and very little investigation. The Stand Your Ground law made it all go away very quickly. After all, it does not even obligate the person “feeling threatened” to retreat … in my cousin’s case, all they had to do was drive away from a barefoot man in his underwear. A 2010 study – even before my cousin’s husband was killed – cites that “reports of justifiable homicide tripled after the law went into effect. It has been invoked in at least 93 cases with 65 deaths.”
    I do not like the movement towards making someone else accountable for the way we feel. My husband’s ex-wife may feel threatened by me and my relationship with her kids but that is her problem to deal with, not mine. Florida state representative Dennis Baxley has been quoted about this law, “What we’ve learned is if we empower people to stop bad things from happening, they will.” I don’t think we’ve learned that at all. It may stop unfortunate things from happening to THEM but it often results in worse things happening to others. The breach in justice is the worst thing of all – the fact that law enforcement will walk away and stop investigating once the law is even cited.

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