New York City 043 300x225 POSITIVE PARENTING   I COULD HAVE BEEN TRAYVONIt was the evening of July 13, 2013. There was an announcement on CNN that the jury in the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Florida was expected to reach a verdict. I like everyone, who was tuned into this channel sat on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what the verdict would be. I didn’t think that Mr. Zimmerman would be convicted of 2nd degree murder. I did think that he would be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. After all Trayvon had the right to be where he was. He was just a few feet away from where his dad lived. Mr. Zimmerman had a gun and he was an adult. When he caught up with Trayvon he should have become aware immediately that the person he was following was just a kid. Instead he claimed he was attacked and therefore he felt he had the right to shoot and kill this 17 year old kid.

After about an hour, CNN announced that the jury had reached its verdict. I watched on television as all those who needed to be in the courtroom were present. The judge looked at the verdict and then passed it on the clerk to read the result the jury had come to.

I was greatly disappointed when I heard the words “not guilty”. I could not understand how the jury could have come to that conclusion. I watched most of the trial and I felt that the state had proven that Mr. Zimmerman was responsible for the death of this young man.

A few days later CNN aired interviews they had with some of the jurors. After I listened to what these people had said, it became clear of what was going on.

Although these jurors were mothers they did not see this kid for who he was. He was a kid. They felt Trayvon was responsible for his own death because he was protecting himself from an adult who was told not to follow him.

It saddens my heart that another Black youth has lost his life. In this case I feel that he died directly because he was profiled by Mr. Zimmerman. I also feel that when the jury acquitted him they basically were stating that profiling was OK.

Profiling did not begin on February 26, 2012. That was the day Mr. Zimmerman shot and killed this 17 year old kid.

I can remember when I was old enough to understand my dad telling me stories about his youth. There was story after story of his experiences of being profiled and how he watched his friends being profiled. Some of those friends lost their lives as a result of profiling. Some of those stories, even to this day, scare me. It’s hard to imagine why one group of people would want to treat another group of people with such malice.

Recently President Obama spoke to the nation telling of his experiences of profiling. He shared how painful it is for every Black male in America when we hear and have these experiences.

I have my own stories of being followed in grocery and department stores. I was even an employee in one of those stores.

We as a country have come a long way regarding race relations but when these situations happen, it seems we have gone backwards.

As a positive parent who also happens to be Black, I have had and will continue to have conversations with my sons about race relations in this country. I and/or my sons could have been Trayvon.

In those conversations with my sons, I explain that we live in a society that sometimes treats its minority population not fairly. For that reason I have made sure that Wendell and Deshawn have proper identification on them at all times. It is important that they be able to establish who they are and where they live in case they are stopped by the police or some community activist. Jonathan is too young to have to worry about that but he will soon be at an age when he will experience being profiled.

Despite the killing of this young man, I do feel that we live in an age where the technology of this time is being used to expose this type of injustice. It is also being used to help organize all of us so that we can begin to make changes in the political and moral systems so that no parent will have to go through what the Martin family has gone through.

I am a person who has adopted the saying that “My glass is always ½ full” but even with positive thinking, I still worry about my kids. We live in the greatest country in the world and I hope and pray that we can get to a point in time when profiling will be a thing of the past.

I am the guy whose glass is always ½ full.

I LOVE BEING A DAD!!

5 comments on “POSITIVE PARENTING – I COULD HAVE BEEN TRAYVON

  • Good morning. Just wanted to let you know that I follow your tweets and enjoy them. There are always at least two sides to every story, especially regarding profiling. I think everyone does it based on their experiences, even if they’re not consciously aware of doing so. I lived in Philly for 10 years and then another few years in neighboring Drexel Hill. In that time I was robbed 3 times – 2 I fought off and 1 was successful. Two were done by young black males and 1 by young black females. In that same time, my co-worker was robbed twice – both times by black males. As a result, did I become wary of young black males – yes. I would have been foolish not to given my experiences. This didn’t stop me from becoming a Big Sister to a young black girl and gong into the Section 8 housing where she lived. But I’d like these conversations to be honest. Profiling occurs because of patterns of behavior by groups. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the group behaves this way. And, it often means that all in that group suffer because of the behavior of some in the group.

  • Wendell – First off, thanks for all you do. I primarily follow money/finance-related blogs, but I really enjoy reading your articles. You just strike me as a great guy and a great dad – the world needs more guys like you!

    While I’ve always viewed the George Zimmerman trial more as an outside observer (ie: I see both sides of the issue, and don’t really have a firm opinion on whether or not I think Zimmerman should have been found guilty), I do believe the dialogue that this case has started is important.

    I’ve mentored a young black boy for the past four years, starting when he was 10 years old. Shortly after the verdict, I had a great dialogue with him about profiling. I asked him if he has ever experienced it before, and he listed off a few times in his life where he felt like he was being unfairly profiled due to the color of his skin.

    The advice I gave him was simple and concise: I told him that he’s a good kid – a good person, and the best thing he can do in this world to combat profiling is to continue being good. Stay away from drugs and stay away from crime. Treat people with respect, and if someone is profiling him, be double-good and double-respectful to those people. I promised him that if he does that, he’s going to open some eyes. He’s not going to change the world all by himself, but he will make a difference.

  • Wendell,
    I enjoy reading your pieces and think that what you are doing is great. I don’t have an opinion on the Zimmerman verdict. He, unfortunately is the only living witness. But the FBI statistics on interracial crime show that 90% is black on white. Maybe that needs to be talked about.

  • Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know about that FBI stat and I agree that needs to be talked about.

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