Stereotyping in 2012: Necessary Lessons to Teach My Son?
Photo courtesy of bing images
For the past month, I’ve listened to and read news articles about the killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager who was gunned down because he looked ‘suspicious’ while walking through his neighborhood wearing a hoodie. The absurdity of how and why Trayvon was killed is still under investigation, but it has shocked and outraged people all over the country, and now people from state to state are wearing hoodies, in protest, to publicly display how ridiculous Trayvon’s killing was.
Having been an African-American teen and now parent, I can recall having to ‘know’ what to wear and how to behave based on where I was and/or who was around. Add to that my southern roots and I can recall many visits to my place of birth and being slowed down or quieted by family members who still live there (based on where we were and/or who was around), and I think the situation is far worse for males than it is for females.
One month ago, Trayvon Martin was gunned down because he looked ‘suspicious’ and just so happened to be wearing a hoodie (I question the real reason behind this tragedy and if the hoodie made a difference). The news shocked communities all over, but there are a lot of people who are dismayed but not surprised by what took place because many people grow up anticipating and preparing to be stereotyped. Whereas some mothers of teenage boys can kiss, hug, and wish their sons safety when they leave the house, it is common knowledge in and around my household and those of my friends to kiss, hug, check wardrobe (no baseball caps, hoodies, shirts with certain logos, etc. EVEN ON A RAINY DAY), and we ‘pray’ that they return home safely. As my godson grew from a teenager to a young man, his mother and I constantly preached the “everyone is not always treated equally” sermon. Do teenagers take heed to our anguished pleas? Not always, but it’s a necessary lesson that has become one of many rules for survival.
For me, the news about Trayvon is my worst fear and nightmare, and my thoughts, heart, and prayers go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for their loss. A recent post on Blogher.com sheds light on how many people fear the same tragedy that Trayvon’s parents will have to live with forever.
Regardless of how this incident came about, it is my sincere prayer that my son is never inflicted by the stereotyping that still goes on, even though we are now in 2012. From the time my son started middle school, I have whispered the do’s and don’ts that he will need to follow, and each time I hear/read a reality (not a story) like Trayvon’s, and his is not the only one, I am reminded to whisper in my son’s ear one more time because there has been another necessary lesson that I need to teach him.