that’s just the way it is.

March 27th, 2012 by | Tags:

This Trayvon Martin thing has crawled all the way under my skin. In part because it’s an absolute travesty, which I feel like is obvious to anyone with two eyes and half a brain. But really, it’s because I’ve heard this song over and over again, ever since I was a kid. “Say sir when speaking to authority figures, keep your hands out of your pockets, look directly into their eyes, be respectful, do everything you can to make sure that my firstborn son doesn’t come home in a pine box because people can and will hurt you for no reason past your skin color.”

One of the biggest tragedies in the Trayvon Martin case isn’t that he was hunted and murdered and his killer will probably get away scot-free. It’s that a mother and father lost their son for a senseless reason, and now their son is an idea. He’s a cautionary tale. He’s a prop for someone else’s argument, and will be until the end of time. He’s not even a statistic. At least with a statistic, it’s anonymous and eventually fades into nothing. An idea is inescapable. People are already taking that boy’s name in vain, using his photo and name however they wish and to prop up whatever point they have to make. I’m probably guilty of it myself, just by writing this paragraph.

There’s a lot of Brothers boys. My little brother is 22. My littlest brother turns four this year. I’ve got close boy cousins that range from 10 to 18 or so. I’m slimmer than most of ’em, but we’re all pretty tall. Tall enough and black enough to be threatening by default, to know not to mouth off to the police, to know how many black people are in a room within seconds of walking in, to knowing exactly how angry we can get in public before we become a Problem. It is what it is.

None of us are innocent, despite what we might tell our parents. Stories like Trayvon Martin’s, or Sean Bell’s, or Kathryn Johnston’s, or Oscar Grant’s prove that the first thing people are going to do when I get shot is look at what I did to deserve it. Not even in a funny Richard Pryor, “It oughtta be against the law to make a motherfucker want to kill you,” sort of way, either. I mean people are going to go out and look for the things that I was involved in that make me less of an innocent, and therefore more worthy of being killed. He smokes weed? Probably a drug dealing thug. Oh dang, he has a tattoo in Swahili on his arm? Is that gang-related? Did he hate white people? Is he a radical black nationalist? Came from a single parent household, huh? Got up to hoodlum stuff while he was overseas? Let’s find some old girlfriends, what do they got to say? What’s with those scars up and down his arms? Have you seen his iTunes? Did he buy all this murder music? I made a joke the other day that my library is 1/4 drug dealing music, 1/4 drug using music, 1/4 murda muzik, and 1/4 love songs. Pick your proof. Build your picture of me.

Right now, Reuters (and the New York Times, and other outlets) is reporting that Martin was suspended from school for ten days because they found a baggie that might have at one point contained marijuana in his backpack. It didn’t have weed in it, mind. It might have. It’s irrelevant to the case, but there’s an intimation there, a hint that Martin wasn’t just black, he was black. Aggressive. Angry. Whatever stereotype you choose to fill-in to his blank so that you can make an informed decision on how to feel about him getting shot after buying candy and tea during the All-Star game. Since he had maybe smoked weed at seventeen years old, several weeks before he was tracked and murdered by a guy with a gun and an inflated sense of his own authority, he had maybe had it coming. After all, drugs, right? Something something gang banger something. Rap music.

This happens every time. It happened to Oscar Grant, it happened to Sean Bell, it happened to Kathryn Johnston (who was 92 years old when she was shot and killed and had officers plant drugs in her home), and it happened to Shem Walker. Remember that guy? He came home to his family’s house to find a suspicious stranger sitting on his stoop. Knowing good and well that nothing good will ever come of that, he told the stranger to move on. The stranger had earphones on and didn’t hear him somehow. Walker went to remove the man physically, for obvious reasons, they got into a fight, and then the stranger pulled a gun and shot him in the chest. The stranger, of course, was an undercover cop, waiting out a drug bust down the road. In the days and weeks after the shooting, we found out that Walker used to be a convict. Why? Because… because, man, just because. Because that somehow has something to do with him not wanting some suspicious dude on his mother’s porch. Son was 49 years old, I don’t know how old his mother was, and he was killed for doing exactly what he should have done in that situation. He was killed for being a good son. But he went to jail once you know? Never mind whether or not he was reformed. He was a convict.

Martin’s story — all of these stories — is a reminder. It’s a reminder that you have so little control over your life that who you are doesn’t actually matter. All that matters is what other people can make you into. You’re not a person, not in the end. You’re just a thing to be used and discarded, no matter how good of a guy you were, no matter how cute your daughter is, they’re going to find something on you and that’s going to be that. Sorry, but Mister Charlie needs grist for the mill.

It’s depressing. I’m depressed. I’ve had a hard March. I’ve been pretty much checked out, if we’re being totally honest with each other. It took me several days to realize that I almost actually died when I had my bicycle accident on 02/29. If the lady behind me hadn’t hit her brakes coming down that hill after I wiped out and savaged my knee, I’d be done. Zipped up in plastic, when it happens, that’s it. The month that followed has been positively absurd with the number of things going wrong, breaking, and whatever else. (The month isn’t over yet and there’s good odds I’m due one more poor turn, ha ha!) I’ve been bummed for weeks, running as fast as I can to stay ahead of the devil, and this Martin thing is like… it’s cold water to the face. It’s a “Welcome back!” from reality, where America chews up and spits out the ones who need it most, where life isn’t fair and you were stupid for thinking it was fair in the first place, where being black makes you a target to the people sworn to swerve and protect and a threat to everyone else. Reminds me of something Sarah Jones once said. “It is the thickest blood on this planet/ The blood that, sprays and spills in buckets/ soaks and stains the nightly news, but fuck it/ A colored life still ain’t worth but a few ducats.”

And it’s racism. All of it. It is unquestionably, objectively racism. It’s not some guy going out to lynch nigras for looking at white women, but that’s not the entirety of what racism is. Racism is a system. Racism is a way of thinking. Racism is subconscious. Racism is an entire country being trained to suspect an entire race of being shifty, lazy, or suspicious by default. I have to prove that I’m not a threat? How about I make America prove it doesn’t want to murder me, since there’s way more precedent for that than some skinny kid being a savage. If I have my hood up and I’m not smiling because I’m having a bad day, I’m a threat, someone to make you clutch your purse or hug your girl closer. I’m a thug? C’mon son. I’m just having a bad day in the big city. Get real. You’ve been trained to see brown skin and go to “Threat!” first instead of “Person!” You’ve been brainwashed.

The craziest part of this brainwashing is how a very basic situation has been twisted into something incredibly ugly. An unarmed child is shot and killed for doing nothing but walking home by a man with no authority who had been told to stand down by the police. This is cut and dry. You can look at this and go, “Oh, that’s a tragedy.” But because the kid was black, because everything is ultra-politicized, because racism is so ingrained in the DNA of the United States of America, this is somehow a controversy. I repeat: an unarmed child was shot dead by a grown man. This is one situation that everyone should be able to understand. It’s a nightmare scenario for every family ever. And yet… the news is telling us that the child may have possibly been a thug, a drug dealer, a hoodlum, a monster, as if any of that has anything to do with why he got shot. There are people out there actively digging up (incorrect) dirt on Trayvon Martin as if that matters at all. He’s a… I don’t even know, a point in a long-running argument, an abstraction about the evils of black youth.

The flip side of that coin is that “Black people are cool now.” Saving them, at least.

The past few weeks have been pretty bad for trend hopping. There was the Kony 2012 crew getting up on their white horse and riding into Uganda by way of Youtube so they could… make Joseph Kony famous? That guy is personally responsible for the dislocation of millions, the murder and rape of thousands of children, and worse. Guess what: he’s plenty famous already, and your idiotic, soundbite-ready youtubes aren’t a help except to people whose idea of activism is turning their location on Twitter to “Iran.” Trayvon Martin has given plenty of people a chance to beat their chest, including a bunch of Occupy Wall Streets advocating violence at a peaceful march. Geraldo is off somewhere telling black people how to live their lives. Everyone is all choked up at black men and women sharing their stories of racism and appalled at the world we live in. Everybody’s got a cause, everybody feels bad… I’m not without sin myself, this essay is proof positive, but I can’t tell you how depressing it is to see my white friends suddenly discover police brutality (hey there, occupy wall street), or racism, or realize that every single one of their black friends has a bunch of stories about times that their race negatively affected their lives. It’s so obvious to me, and it sucks and is unfair that even support sometimes feels like an attack. Where have you been that you didn’t notice this until now?

The experience of being black in America is one of being constantly reminded that you are black in America, with all the drama that comes from it. The preferred term online amongst… whoever for black people is People of Color, or POC. I hate it, because yo, first, everyone has color, and second, how about you don’t define me in opposition to somebody else? I feel like that should be a basic human right. The right to not be not-White. It’s basic things like that that are what I mean. I can’t escape the fact that I’m black and have built-in baggage, even if I wanted to.

A post-racial society is a myth, and everyone who claims to be color-blind is an idiot. Race is inextricable from our daily life, for better or for worse. That’s part of why so much of my comics-related writing has revolved around the intersection between black people and comics. It matters to me, on a deeply personal level, and I’m trying to figure out how to make that come across, from my first stumbling and clumsy steps to the targeted icepicks to the neck in blog form that I wish I was better at using today. I can’t not think about it, because almost every time I read a comic, I’m reminded of it.

I’m constantly being reminded of the fact that I’m black and how terrible being black can be almost every time I take in something. Music, movies, real life, love, friendship, whatever. It affects everything. You can’t be race-blind. Not when every movie with a black star is the tipping point for black cinema, or when the cool new way to say a woman has a nice butt online (“DAT ASS!”) is explicitly satirizing somebody’s fake idea of a black rapper (specifically Rich Boy), or when a discussion on white British soul singers somehow turns into a referendum on who “owns” a certain type of music. Not when, in America, white is always going to be treated as the default. There’s gonna be that twinge, that feeling of “Oh, this is talking about me or people like me,” and it’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid.

And black is beautiful, man. I wouldn’t trade being black, being who I am, for the world. But, boy would I love to jettison some of the baggage associated with it. I don’t like looking at Trayvon Martin and seeing me and my brothers and my cousins. I don’t like talking to the homey Cheryl Lynn and having her point out that at a certain point, the light goes out in the eyes of little black boys, and then realizing that there’s a reason I stopped smiling in every picture I have of myself past a certain age. I don’t like realizing that every connection I made to a popular character comes via metaphor or inference, rather than actual fact. Real life is hard enough without that baggage.

With it… well, life goes on regardless. Trayvon Martin has graduated to being a symbol, rather than a person. He’s a chess piece to be used to show that black people are horrible, that police brutality exists, that kids these days are a problem, that the news media is broken and corrupt, that America eats its young. In death, as in life, he’s treated as something less than human. It’s incredibly unfair, and there’s no solution on the horizon.

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55 comments to “that’s just the way it is.”

  1. I’ve been reading your blog for years now. I don’t have the words to describe how wonderfully honest and powerful this piece is. Thank you.

  2. Aye, a great bit of writing. Cheers for this, David.

  3. All of this is so horrifying and terrible. I grew up in Florida too, but South Florida, which is relevant because the state gets less typically “Southern” the further south you go. I’m also a Latino man who dresses and acts in a specific way because I don’t want to be perceived as a Latino man first.

    It’s not the same as being black in America, but there are similarities that scare me and worry me about, I dunno, being in Arizona or Alabama or just America.

    What scares me more is my little brother. He’s an adopted half-black, half-white kid and he’s only seven, but I can see America’s effect on him. He asks my parents to keep his hair short/shaved because he doesn’t like that it’s not straight like theirs and he says that he looks more like my mother (fair-skinned) than my father (darker-skinned). That’s beyond the awful, bullshit, racist things my uncle says (sometimes within earshot) because of his race.

    When I read about you no longer smiling in pictures past a certain age and the struggles of being a black man and I look at pictures of my little brother smiling and so full of joie de vivre it just breaks my heart.

    I live in Baltimore now so I have no doubt that we do not live in a post-racial America, but goddamn do I hope things get better because I know what kind of world I grew up in and we’re a long way from good or right or just.

  4. […] that’s just the way it is. The White Man’s Burden, Not The Black Man’s Dream March 27th, 2012 by david brothers […]

  5. Amazing piece. Wish it weren’t so spot on.

  6. Fuck George Zimmerman, and fuck everyone who’s trying to defend him or say that people pointing out that HE SHOT A KID and should rot in prison for the next century is “media bias”.

  7. This is a very powerful piece. Thank you also for nailing why I’ve never been comfortable with “person of color”. I don’t like being referred to that way even though I’ve been guilty of using it on-line as a quick short cut “TLA” (three letter acronym).

  8. People of Color is supposed to be a term for all non-white people, and supposed to be an improvement over “minority” (“because our numbers are not the issue”) but yeah, it is also all those other things you said.

  9. The vilification of a teenager for being a teenager as an excuse for his death disgusts me to no end. Teenagers do dumb shit. I did dumb shit as a teenager. My friends and I used to draw on street signs. We’d play a game called toughguy where we’d leave cinderblocks inside of paper bag on the road so that when someone would move to drive over the seemingly empty bag, they’d get a nice thunking surprise against their wheels. We’d rearrange people’s holiday decorations in less-than-flattering ways. We’d wreck bushes by diving into them from cars. Some dumb, dumb teenager shit. Way worse than anything Martin is being accused of.

    But I still did quite well in school, much like Trayvon did. I went to college. I graduated. I work a full time salaried job. I pay taxes, I vote, I volunteer. I grew up, as most people do. Hormones and growing pains and teenage posturing are behind me. Treyvon Martin won’t get that chance because a paranoid control freak thought he looked like trouble and stalked him on his way home.

  10. Probably some small comfort in the cold light of day, but this is some powerful, pained and true talk.

  11. I can’t say that I’ve been thinking the same things, or at least not all of them and certainly not to the same extent that you have, and I won’t pretend to understand where you’re coming from, but this is the best writing on this whole travesty that I have seen. Should be required reading for anyone feeling the need to weigh in with their two cents.

  12. Why do you say “authority figures” instead of “cops”? Though certainly you’re supposed to show respect to your high school principal, you generally don’t worry “coming home in pinewood box” if you don’t.
    That seems to indicate that Zimmerman was an “authority figure”…which he wasn’t. Zimmerman was a fucking civilian. A “chaotic-lawful”, self-righteous, cop-wannabe upstart shit-head. Black, White, Mexican, Asian, whatever, Zimmerman was itching to confront someone, and carried a gun because he knew he the odds were in favor of him getting a chance to blast a “bad guy”.

    Did Zimmerman skip logic and jump to unfounded, racially-prejudiced conclusions about Martin. According to you, everyone in the country is brainwashed into skipping logic in favor of racial-profiling due to a false fear evoking self-preservation mechanisms.

    As far as the media trying to uncover every bit of information about Martin (and Zimmerman, for that matter). Well, it’s a very high-profile case; as if it’s a question as to why this “high-profile” case is being fine-tooth-combed, while equally as tragic, but less news-marketable crimes are overlooked. Sorry, but every scrap of information is open-game in all high-profile court cases, regardless of color. Dirt on Zimmerman sells for as much as dirt on Martin. Mass-media only sees green and creating a “Team Zimmerman” vs “Team Martin” atmosphere just chums the waters for pop-news consumption.

    Well, over-and-over, your blog-post is just saying “It’s like that! And that’s the way it is! (and it sucks)”. OK, it’s like that, and that’s the way it is, and it sucks. What is your point? You start off by saying that the modus operandi and motivation are less tragic than that the motivation was “senseless” and that it has reduced Trayvon Martin to “an idea”. Then you spend the next 2,000 words in a diatribe about the idea that Trayvon and several other victims of similar crimes have become….entrenching these individuals and their stories as ideas, rather than attempting to rescue them as individuals. Granted, you sort of apologize for it before doing so, but hey…give the readers what they want.
    Maybe you feel guilty about contributing to the dematerialization of Trayvon Martin, hence the apology. But, none of us knew Trayvon Martin. Try as you may, since the moment you’ve heard his story, Trayvon has been nothing but an abstract idea to you, to me, and to everyone who doesn’t know him as an individual, with a story behind his life. His becoming an idea is not a tragedy. Dred Scott and Emmitt Till (who you allude to) may have been reduced to “ideas”, but powerful ideas. Ideas of “martyrs” whose blood will not have been spilled in vain.

  13. “I hate it when people assume I’m gonna act a certain way because of my skin color! All you white people always do that!”

  14. Man, America is a strange place.

  15. @DensityDuck: White Privilege 101 should be a required college course. Hell, high school course.

  16. Mr. Brothers, thank you. for many things, but most of all for not prescribing a solution. This was a dispiriting read and everytime I felt like an objective judge( for ex.,”this is my issue with ’causes’. they think it’s fine to treat another being as a means to an end.”),my imperious self-righteousness ran into a concrete roadblock of inarguable logic and I felt implicated in the whole thing myself. I want to cry for you, Trayvon, myself, and all the creatures walking this planet who would love to proceed in their day-to-day with certainty but are denied that possibility.

    Don’t get it twisted. I am white and acknowledge both it and the other handful of priveleges I was born into. but I can relate to being one’s own devil’s advocate. I don’t think we’d be altogether worse off if we placed less of a priority on conviction and more on doubt and second-guessing in this culture, but I might as well face it that it’s not a vision we’re going to see realized anytime soon. and it would come with its own problems, of course. I’m just tired of fighting the same old battles and warring with the same dragons. There comes a time when one just wants to lay aside his/her sword.

    I’ve never met you, sir, so I can’t claim any special insight into you, even after you’ve seemingly divulged such a signficant chunk of your worldview. but you have been an inspiration to me for a good long while and perhaps never more than upon my having read this. In addition to being reviled by the ongoing character assassination of a dead kid, what feels most rotten in my gut about the whole shameful spectacle is the simple fact that after a grown man already took it upon himself to steal the young Mr. Martin’s future from him, the entire culture has compounded the mistake by taking away his actual sentience in favor of the robes of “inspiration”.

    You did well, though, sir. never doubt it.(obligatory end of comment refusal to acknowledge the vainglorious barely-disguised anti-human venom from the posters near the bottom)

  17. Just so we’re all clear, my last comment was against Density Duck, who seems to be a bit of an idiot who is suffering from “Racism is extinguished because the Klan isn’t riding anymore, so shut up” syndrome.

  18. Have never come across your blog before, but this is such a great piece. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. Powerful article. Thank you for writing it and putting this tragedy in perspective.

    I shared it on my Facebook feed. I hope that you don’t mind.

  20. @Lugh: Amen to what you said about Zimmerman, and amen to everything David wrote in this post.

  21. @DensityDuck: I love the irony.

  22. Well said, sir.

  23. this is a fantastic essay

  24. Yeah… I get it. Insanity is doing, thinking, the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The people who would show some kind of empathy or sympathy will do so, but the dead black men and women aren’t going to make those who don’t give a goddamn suddenly amend their ways. The path to change isn’t a fad, it’s a life of difficulties for those threatened by this shit and its their burden alone to bear. People trying to turn this horrible gesture that racists commit into something it can never be will not lighten that load or create that change. It feels hopeless, but all the same, THAT is the lesson to be had from these killings. No one wants to be a martyr for this cause, these victims never asked to be. The lesson is to stop feeling like you have to turn this murder into something it isn’t. Sometimes a killing is a killing, don’t turn this into some awareness, morality episode.

  25. “And black is beautiful, man. I wouldn’t trade being black, being who I am, for the world. But, boy would I love to jettison some of the baggage associated with it.”

    Its from my mind to your blog.

  26. This is just excellent writing.

  27. Strong, honest, personal piece man. Some of the best, most grounded stuff I’ve seen since this whole thing started. Thank you.

  28. Wow. This was great.

    I am white. I grew up in an affluent white suburb that, while not gated, might as well have been. I think maybe one or two black families lived there, but, you know, the neighbors were okay with them because they were “not like the stereotype.” My parents, too — very liberal, mind you — but still the creeping terror of the blacks was there.

    I watched Gerlado’s hoody rant and laughed at it, but something you said reminded me of something I did when I was a teenager. I loved walking at night in the rain. I was a depressed and melancholy youth and I’d put on my black hoody, load up my music player with death metal, black metal, and other “murder music” and walk around my development with my hands in my pockets, mostly looking at the ground. Some neighbors looked at me funny, and they terrified me, because I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want them to think I was going to TP their house or steal their lawn gnomes. Never once did I fear for my safety. I didn’t worry I might be shot, and I didn’t worry about frightening people. I worried they might think I would let my dog shit on their lawn.

    And, you know, if you were white, I’d never bother to read this, let alone respond to it. It wouldn’t assuage my guilt enough. Even with the best intentions, I’m still a racist.

  29. Thanks for reading & commenting, everybody.

  30. Stunning piece. It’s always amazing when you write about race. Eye-opening and deeply moving.

    I confess I am guilty of being white and using the expression “people of color.” It makes me uncomfortable and I don’t like it, but I haven’t been able to find another expression that comes any closer to a consensus among… well, people of color. The reason I use it is never to avoid saying “black,” though. It’s because “POC” includes not just black people, but also Asian, Native American, etc. I guess it just seems like a less offensive way of saying “non-white,” but you’re right, in the end it amounts to the same thing: defining people as not-something. White is default is not something I want to reinforce.

    I don’t know. I’m going to try to minimize the use of “people of color” in my writing from now on. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a lazy solution.

  31. Typo in above post: “white is default” should be “white as default”

  32. Thank you for this.

  33. […] who&#8217d try and spin brute facts into a greasy internet of victim-blaming. David Brothers did an an exceptional (and intensely individual) job at covering some the most salient points, so I&#8217m going to focus on one particular aspect of the tragedy which cuts across one thing […]

  34. David,
    My friend Pete put me on this blog because he and I grew up in this and we struggle sometimes relating to the other “proper” white people who have retained the ignorance of their parents when it comes to race. I want to say thank you for writing this piece. The soundtrack was perfect. I clicked each video and read the sections until the song was over and then went on the next one. It reminded me so much of the first time I listened to the entire Ready to Die album from Biggie. The emotions swelled, the tears formed, I feel like shit after reading it and I also feel hope after reading it. Strange, I know.
    If I could magically turn the world in to the set of Star Trek-the Next Generation or some other show where everyone is equal and their worth is determined by their merit, believe me I would.
    I can’t, you can’t, and it isn’t going to change much in our lifetimes. The real housewives/instant hollywood fame culture is determining the path of our children and we are almost powerless to stop it.
    I feel so much more inside but I just can’t put it into words properly. Thank you again.

    Stephen Ramsden
    Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project

  35. […] Skittles sound good. […]

  36. You are a wiser man than I, so keep hanging on.
    We need our heroes.

  37. Thank you so much for writing this. The part about how you stopped smiling in pictures at a certain age made me want to cry, though. My son has such a beautiful smile… I wish I could make every person I pass on the streets read this post of yours. It is brave and wise and honest and true. Thanks. –(White girl with a black son.)

  38. I am a white woman, and I have to say this gave me chills. It’s so powerful and awful and true. This article spells out the atrocities in our society so fully, a society where black people are seen in this way, while I can get away with so much more. I hate having been born with white privilege. I want to share it with everybody…and I wish I could. Thank you so much for writing this. I plan on sending it to all the people who don’t understand my outrage about the Trayvon Martin case.

  39. We can argue race. We can argue reasoning. But the simple fact remains is a young man is dead and he will never just be a young man again and there is a cruelty in just saying that…

    I’m not perfect and like everyone else I am prone to insidious dark feelings and actions. This T.M. situation just got me thinking as to what the media would rake up on me if I got killed senselessly?

    Embarassed that I actually had such thoughts but all too human for me. Thanks for yet another article David that challenges our perceptions about why everything is the way it is. Hopefully your recovery is going well and condolences to the Martin family…:frown:

  40. I read this and didn’t figure out that you were in any way different from me until the third paragraph. I’m white, but I grew up relatively poor: a standout from middle class white America. Add to that the fact that I am also of Jewish lineage, I really understand what discrimination and racism mean. This Trayvon Martin situation is something Americans of every stripe should feel pissed about. At some point in history, everyone who lives in America, or their ancestors, has been the underdog, the oppressed. I agree with you, that black people don’t get a fair shake in this country, but any minority, by any definition, has their own trials. Some people are poor, some are uneducated, some minorities are more visibly obvious. We all understand, or maybe I should say, we all have the correct mental environment to find understanding. The country is better, in a lot of ways, than it ever was in its history. The fact that this case of stalking and murder happened is an indication that things are changing. In by-gone eras, we never would have even heard about it. It wouldn’t have made the national stage. The acceptance of racism is less present than it once was in the broader swaths of our culture. This was and still is a white culture, but I think it’s safe to say it’s becoming less so. Racism is a wounded tiger and it’s fighting it hardest as it takes its last gasps. In a hundred years, I doubt this kind of conversation will have much meaning. I know it doesn’t do a lot to ease the hearts and minds of people who are living through these times, but if you look to the past, you’ll see that the Crusades eventually ended; the Dark Ages ended; the witch burnings ended; the Holocaust ended. They didn’t go away, but they stopped happening. This too shall pass. It has to, because otherwise, we will wipe ourselves out and even a racist can see that extinction is not a good way to go. Sometimes things don’t end well. They just end.

  41. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I am a white woman who grew up in relative privilege, never worrying about the safety of my home, always knowing the police were the good guys, always knowing that all I had to do was say “help”, and every hand around me would reach out without judgment. I knew it was different for others. It wasn’t until I was nearly thirty that I understood just how different it was, and every year, every death, every wrenching tragedy only drives home that for some of my beloved brothers and sisters, it is always different.

    And then I read or hear the hatred spewing from people I know, the condemnations of an innocent young man just so they don’t have to reconsider how their lives and worlds compare to others. I feel overwhelmed. I speak out when I can, but I just have not found a way past that contempt to the heart of fear and anger that fuels this need to dehumanize the other.

    I don’t have an answer. I doubt I ever will. But I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that you matter, that I want things to be better for you. I want you to smile again.

  42. good read, man. good read.

  43. […] Feministing) _____ Update: A heartbreaking take from David Brothers: Martin’s story — all of these stories — is a reminder. It’s a […]

  44. Thanks David; that was deep.

  45. Nicely written.

  46. The cyclical nature of this sort of thing is perhaps the most heartbreaking thing of all. Before Martin is was Grant, before Grant it was Bell, before Bell it was Diallo, and it’s hard to believe it won’t happen again in a few years. How many times does this have to happen before a real shift in the way we all think occurs?

  47. David — this applies to everything on 4thletter, but you’re a really good writer. Seriously, man — get some newspaper gigs.

  48. “he was hunted and murdered” How do you know this? Were you there did you see him get hunted by George Zimmerman? And if Zimmerman did keep following him why did he lose track of him?
    “they found a baggie that might have at one point contained marijuana in his backpack. It didn’t have weed in it, mind. It might have. It’s irrelevant to the case” It is relevant because the whole reason Zimmerman called the cops was because he saw someone acting like they were on drugs, and people on drugs are more likely to act violent. “An unarmed child is shot and killed for doing nothing but walking home” Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him, broke his nose and slammed his head on the sidewalk. His injury’s and eye witness accounts support this.
    “the news is telling us that the child may have possibly been a thug, a drug dealer, a hoodlum, a monster, as if any of that has anything to do with why he got shot.” It does matter if Martian was the one who started the fight. You know maybe you shouldn’t rush to judgement and think “black teen got shot must have been because of his race.”

  49. @Dan: Sorry that you’re so stupid :frown:

  50. i wish i could give you a hug.

  51. great deeply moving article, Thanks!

  52. I’ve been bothered by the spectacle surrounding the Martin case for awhile now – but for different reasons than most. Some friends didn’t understand why I had hesitations on jumping on the bloodthirsty media bandwagon. Your essay helped me understand my own feeling on the subject – it’s not because I don’t have sympathy for Trayvon, because I do. The behavior of many people surrounding this matter are anti-thesis to society getting past the ingrained issues of racism. Thank you for writing this, as it is one of the most thought-provoking treatises that I’ve read on the subject.

  53. :effort: I as a mom, I don’t have any idea how mothers of young African American men live through watching their son’s walk out the door in this country. …. :effort:

  54. […] black men because, well, I’m not black. Plus, there are others who have done so already, in a poignant, meaningful and impactful manner. Maybe it has to do with the 2012 Presidential election, and immersing myself, mostly by some sick, […]

  55. It took a while before I got around to reading this post, but this is one of the best written pieces I’ve read on race and explaining how it feel to be Black in America that I’ve ever written. I couldn’t agree more with each word you wrote. Thank you!