Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do I Look Suspicious to You?

I'm guessing most everyone has heard the Trayvon Martin story as it has been front and center in the news the last few days.  The basic jist is 17 year old Martin, who is black, was walking home from a convenience store when he was spotted by a man connected to a neighborhood watch group.  The man (who is 1/2 white and 1/2 Hispanic) called 911 because he thought the boy looked suspicious, was told not to follow him but did anyway, and ended up shooting the boy.

As the mom of a little boy who will grow up to be a young black man, I think this situation hits close to home.  Will my kid be assumed to be up to no good because he is a black teen?  I am fully aware that being a male teen also may create that situation but there is always the nagging question of race when it comes to things like this.  And unfortunately, I have heard several people share stories of times when their black child was viewed in this way.  It also saddens me that I will probably have to have conversations with my son like the ones featured in a recent Time post, ones that encourage him to be aware of his surroundings, to consider what to do if he is feeling threatened simply because he is black.

A viral campaign of sorts is being launched that encourages people to think beyond someone's appearance and I'm stepping up to the plate.  Here's my post:

I'm 5.  Actually 5 1/2.
Right now, I like football and soccer and dinosaurs.
When I grow up, I'm going to be a football player, soccer player, teacher or a person who helps kids without families find families.
But not a firefighter because that's too scary.
Right now, I'm little.
But someday I will be big.  (Probably really big because I'm very tall.)
And someday someone may see me as suspicious.
Do I look suspicious to you?

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