Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, President Obama and Me
I am traveling for mostly pleasure this week so I will keep this short.
Before I get to the point of this post, I would like to review some basic items for our new friends and followers. I am a middle aged, short, fat white guy with gray hair. I graduated from college, I own guns, and I live in a rural part of West Virginia. I go to church regularly, I am friendly to people of every persuasion, ethnicity, creed, and sexual orientation. I am an anti-war, pro-peace veteran. I believe that our nation would have been better off had we fire bombed Kandahar, Kabul and Tora Bora in 2001. If we had to invade someone in 2003, it should have been Iran. I am conservative with my life, and liberal with my music. I am more comfortable at a Metallica concert than a Promise Keepers rally. I am a registered Democrat, I did not vote for President Obama and I will not support Lindsey Graham in anything. I believe in civil unions and I stand firmly against abortion, domestic spying, and drone strikes.
I could potentially qualify for every special interest group that exists in the US today. The only organization I am a part of is the American Legion, and that membership has lapsed. I do not label myself by anything other than husband, father, son, brother because no label can adequately describe who I am or what I believe. I try to not take sides in any political debate, preferring to support what is right, not politically expedient. I am who I am. I am not what anyone, other than my wife, expects me to be.
In 2006, Chris Rock did a skit for his show. I am censoring the title because of its offensive nature “How not to get your butt kicked by the police.” During the next year, that four minute video was a staple during my time as a pilot in the West Virginia Air Guard. If there was ever a five minute pause or break, that video clip was playing on a computer or overhead projector. Everyone in attendance would laugh at the video. One of the tips from Mr. Rock is to not let a mad woman ride with you in a car. He then shows a guy being pulled over by the police and the woman yelling at the officer “He got weed, He got weed!” The next scene is the man being pummeled by the police.
That single line was the source of more fun than any other. It was spoke at a drive-thru, on the intercom system on the base, yelled into the phone of a friend, spoken over radio calls between airplanes, and even spoken when communicating with Air Traffic Control. It was simply the gift that kept giving. I didn’t watch Chris Rock’s show, and only knew he had a show because of this video clip. But to me it is genus in its simplicity and truth. If you want to watch it, click here but be warned it is full of potentially offensive language and even more offensive racial subject matter.
So here is my point, I am a white guy who lives in a predominately white state. I live a quiet life and other than driving my four door sedan or my wife’s mini-van too fast from time to time, I obey the law, pay my taxes and take care of my family. I have very little to fear when I am subjected to a police inspection. I do not have to deal with negative stereotypes, negative image nor is anyone intimated of me because of my appearance or size.
My son will be six next month. In ten years, he may not fit into society the way I do. It is quite possible that he may be larger than most people, he will certainty have a different skin color from most West Virginians, and so far in his development he has my temperament. That means he doesn’t like to be told what to do. A few months ago President Obama spoke of Trayvon Martin and he famously said that “Trayvon could have been his son.” I think the President said that to placate his political base. I would say that because it is the truth and my son could very well be in the same situation that Trayvon found himself.
I have thought about this since we adopted our son. I wondered what I was going to tell him to do if he found himself in a potentially dangerous situation. What if he found himself walking down the street and was attacked. What if he was pulled over by the police? Or what if he was in the same situation that Trayvon was in. Would I tell him to stand his ground or should he surrender? Trayvon had as much right to stand his ground as George Zimmerman did. In Trayvon’s mind, he was being attacked and he did not have to take it.
Twenty-two years ago, I got my private pilot’s license. The examiner had one piece of advice for me that has stuck with me, ever since. “You can be legal and legally dead at the same time.”
Trayvon Martin is a reminder to me that these words are very true. Trayvon did not deserve to die that night, but unfortunately it doesn’t matter because when faced with that situation the end result is that Trayvon was legal and legally dead at the same time. I am going to do my best to teach my son that it is not a disgrace to surrender to the law. I am going to do my best to teach him that if you have time, don’t call your girlfriend, call 9-11. I am going to do my best to teach him to make himself as non-threatening as possible. Keep a distance between him and the other guy. Remove the hood, keep your hands in plain sight and stay calm, level headed and focused. It is much better to diffuse the situation before it escalates, than to prove your manhood and end up on the wrong side of the bullet.
I know this is a serious topic. In some ways, I am scared for my son and I pray that he never find himself in the same position as Trayvon. But if he does, I hope that he can find an alternative ending.
Please allow me to say this and to remind us of what the truth is. I have taken my son with me everywhere. We have been in the checkout line with the reddest of rednecks, at Wal-Mart with “those” people, walking thru the mall or at a restaurant where he doesn’t look like anyone else in the room and in backwoods Kentucky getting gas at 1 AM.
Every person we encountered, has always been nice and respectful of my son. No one has ever made an offensive remark towards him, my family, or me. I think in many ways, as a nation we are becoming more accepting of our differences. I hope that our nation can learn from this event and that it serves a greater good than as media talking points and filler.
Until next time, keep on rockin’!