We’ve all been moved (to tears–and more) by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. (A recap of the timeline can be found here.) What’s followed has been a firestorm, calls for investigations and the mobilization of marches–and a very serious, emotional response from the President–who said “my son would look like Trayvon.” Others have gone off on inane tangents, like this one by Fox’s Geraldo Rivera, who blames Martin’s hoodie for everything (really). A couple of days ago, blogger Zach Stafford weighed in on how and why queer folks should be affected by these goings-on.
Waxing personal, he says: “I think it is a harder story for me to digest because the past few years have been hard on the youth of America in general, youth who’ve been attacked, ridiculed, or bullied by the public for being black or gay or homeless or suspicious, which we all know means ‘not normal’.”
He goes on: “Trayvon was a boy who was only 17 and black, and due to his blackness and a suspicious bag of Skittles and tea, he was killed for being in a place to which folks in that place believed he should be denied access. If you were to talk to the thousands of homeless gay youth in America on any day, you would hear innumerable stories of being in situations like this and having to negotiate their own ways to safety for looking ‘suspicious’ because of their homelessness.”
You can read his entire blog post here.
Stafford wraps up by reminding us of that which must take to heart and live as our truth. Although there is little in the way of comparison when it comes to dissecting race relations (<–check out that link), Stafford hints at a kernel of truth. No matter race, gender, sexuality–the list goes on and on–we’re all in this together, we’re all striving for equality. Transgender, queer, white male suburban gay–it doesn’t matter the classification. Many “others” have lived and felt the “suspicion”–the not fitting in, the not conforming–we know some version of how it feels. Yes, justice is a must–especially for Martin and his family–and equality demands justice most of all. And we can’t allow people like Geraldo Rivera (perhaps earnest–but definitely misguided) to wish away some facet of culture as a means for explaining away the unacceptable. We’re better and stronger for our differences, not for concessions and assimilation.
And the fact that society tolerates loud-mouths blaming hoodies for overt racism and unchecked violence? Time for some serious soul-searching.
But we want to hear from you, dear readers. What are your thoughts on this and Stafford’s blog? Be sure to leave your comments below.